So, What is Ironstone? – Part I


A simple, white, opaque plate, dish or pitcher has never caused such excitement as it does in the antique world.  Ironstone is the little black dress to an antique, or a farmhouse, lover.  It goes with anything and it always looks good.


Ironstone is made from fired clay which contains china stone.  It looks very similar to porcelain and has a similar hardness. Unlike porcelain, however, it is opaque not translucent.  It dates back to the early 1800s; the name and its formula, containing the mineral feldspar, were patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason of Staffordshire, England.  Original ironstone china produced by Mr. Mason bares a mark that reads “Mason’s Patent Ironstone China” above a picture of a crown.  (Ahh, crowns.  I also love crowns!)  Decorations on his dishes ranged from highly colored and gilded all-over patterns to a simple strawberry design in copper lustre.


In the 1840′s, England began exporting the undecorated wares to the American and Canadian markets.  The English potters discovered that the “Colonies” preferred the unfussy plain and durable china.  Specifically, it was 1842 when James Edwards marketed the first white ironstone china in America.  And I thank you, Mr. Edwards, as do many other avid white ironstone collectors.

Martha Stewart is credited with making ironstone popular again back in the 1990s.  You can read a little more about the history of ironstone by visiting her website.

Martha Stewart
I love ironstone for its simplicity and its old-fashioned farmhouse appeal.

Um, how gorgeous is that display?

I’m fond of a piece I find in good condition, but I’m particularly fond of finding a piece now and again that is brown with crazing.  A little age is what gives it character and a sense of history.  It begs the question, where has that piece been?

I’m not kidding when I tell you that I could receive a piece of ironstone china for every holiday or birthday until the day that I pass on and I’d be a very happy girl.

I’m fairly certain I’ll never tire of white ironstone.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Hi Laura – I too love ironstone and have for many years – long before it became the desired collectable that it is today. I used to think that I was just plain weird coveting old dishes! My favorite pattern is Wheat and Daisies and am lucky enough to have a number of pieces in my collection. It’s getting harder to find but the search is the fun part, isn’t it? Love your display and look forward to following your blog!

  2. Hello Laura! I just found your blog from a pin on Pinterest! Love it! I am slowly building up my collection of ironstone. I only have a few pieces but I love the look of it as well!

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