The simplicity, durability, and variety of styles makes antique ironstone one of the most sought after collectibles. Who can resist it's creamy goodness.
Old ironstone with it's beautiful crazing and stains was England's cheap, but durable alternative to porcelain, and was mass produced for the colonies. Josiah Spode was producing ironstone by 1805 and exporting it in mass quantities to France where it's popularity surpassed the traditional faience pottery. It was, however, actually patented by the British potter Charles James Mason in 1813 . Many other European countries including Sweden produced white ironstone during the 19th century.
If you are a collector, the question is how do you display your beautiful winter white treasures. I like authenticity and believe ironstone collections should be displayed in cupboards close to the kitchen where they were meant to be. These dishes were used regularly, not seen as part of tabletop vignettes throughout the house. I also prefer a casual stacking of dishes, bowls tureens etc. as opposed to single pieces lined up for show. Also don't think your collection need be made up entirely of Ironstone. There are lovely English and French white porcelain dishes that are perfect compliments to the display. It just looks more in keeping with what a French or English kitchen would actually look like.
If you are interested in collecting Ironstone I would highly recommend that you begin by purchasing a lovely old cupboard to display them in and then let your collecting take off. Scour vintage stores, flea markets, and even yard sales for pieces at great prices. Of course at antique stores you will pay more unless you luck up like I did a few weeks back when I found a great tureen at 40% off.
Collectors have created a demand for Ironstone and the price has risen accordingly, but you can still have fun searching for that perfect piece.
With the popularity of the French style home, collections of these white dishes against a white or light background has become a favorite look. By the way, there is no iron in Ironstone. It is named for it's strength and durability.
My personal preference is to see these Ironstone collections displayed "en masse" for impact.
Although the price for Ironstone has risen significantly, you can still find a good piece at an affordable price if you are willing to treasure hunt a bit.
Ironstone prices vary greatly.The cost of a piece for your collection will depend on several things such as pattern, condition, and rarity. Also whether you buy from an antique store or scour flea markets will make a difference in price.
A few years back ironstone was fairly easy to find because of lack of interest. Now so many wonderful tureens and covered dishes are being collected by people wanting to bring a French farmhouse look to their homes.
I especially like ironstone collections with the stacked look.
My own white collection displayed at Christmas in an old built-in cabinet located down the hall leading to my kitchen. I have some really good pieces of English Ironstone and then I also have some random white English pieces (Johnson Brothers Old English Staffordshire "White Granite" ware, and John Maddock & Sons Royal white porcelain) that are thrown in simply because I like them and couldn't resist adding them to the collection. I love it all, tureens, casseroles, compotes, plates and platters. I am also not opposed to a chip or stain.......makes it look authentic because when being used these things happen.
I enjoyed using my tureens twice during Christmas entertaining. Covered serving pieces made my mashed potatoes and other vegetables look so elegant while desserts presented on my cakeplates (decorated with a bit of holly and covered with cloches) were a hit with visitors.
Sometimes a piece will tell you that it is ironstone, but not always so you need to get educated on the look and feel. There are marks, however, it is not uncommon to find pieces that aren’t marked at all. Be aware that just because it isn’t marked doesn’t mean it’s not ironstone.
The best way to tell is by look and feel. Pieces may range in color from white to cream and even a darker tan color. Ironstone will feel heavier than you think it should and you will notice that pieces may have crazing, (cracks in the glaze). If you are considering a collection of Ironstone, learn to appreciate the imperfections that come along with such vintage pieces.
To make your display of Ironstone more interesting add a little variety to the collection. There are so many wonderful and unique pieces out there just waiting to become part of a fabulous collection.
People have their favorite pieces of Ironstone to collect. Some love pitchers, some platters. Like this collector I love tureens and covered dishes They seem to beckon me!
I think an Ironstone display looks best when your collection is mis-matched. Don't worry about getting all the same pattern, or for that matter a collection made up entirely of Ironstone. A mix looks much better anyway!
Whether dressed up or countrified, Ironstone complements every style.
Ironstone platters displayed in a plate rack.
Some pieces have cracks and chips, and all have the marks of being used. Ironstone was made to be used so a good collection should include some of these pieces if you want your display to look authentic.
You don't always have to use a cupboard for display.This is an interesting way to show off a collection of Ironstone in a way that makes it look like it is still being used.
source unknown....please let me know who to credit
Another example of a collection of Ironstone tureens.
Pretty French style dining room with crystal chandeliers, distressed furniture and a collection of creamy white ironstone.
White Ironstone collections are a great idea for adding a French flair to your kitchen.
Let me encourage you to use and enjoy the pieces of Ironstone in your collection. These wonderful white dishes are not meant to be kept strictly behind cupboard doors.
Collections of Ironstone have a special magic around Christmas when greenery is added into the mix. I think they're perfect for serving on holiday tables. The white simplicity of these dishes will never go out of style.
Don't you just love the creaminess and patina of old Ironstone? And if a French farmhouse style kitchen is your heart's desire, then you must create a cupboard overflowing with white!
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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer