I realize this matte-finish antique may not be for everyone, but it’s always at the top of my shopping list. I know not everyone gets as giddy about a plain white piece of dinnerware as I do, so this is my last post in this series. I pinky swear.
The majority of the antique ironstone I collect is of the English variety, preferably made by Alfred Meakin
or Johnson Bros.
Meakin and the Johnson Bros. were related and you can read more about their history here.
There are, however, some very well-known “ironstone” companies right here at home in the United States. These manufacturers are mostly responsible for the chunky, white hotel and restaurant ware you’ll find while shopping, which, for me, can be just as desirable as its English ancestor.
Before the advent of ironstone dinnerware, the United States had a limited pottery industry. Its potteries largely produced bricks, tiles, redware and stoneware. The preference for plain white dinnerware in the mid-1800s enabled a fledgling industry to develop, since American potters did not need to be adept at decoration (particularly transfer-printing). Regions in New Jersey and Ohio (and later New York) that had high quality clay sources and well-developed transportation networks became the centers of American ironstone dinnerware production.
Some of my personal favorite American manufacturers of ironstone are:
Buffalo Pottery – Buffalo produced many different kinds of pottery for commercial use in hotels and railroad dining cars, as well as art pottery that is popular with antique collectors. Almost all of Buffalo Pottery’s work is clearly marked with a variation of the buffalo symbol and usually includes the date of manufacture.
Homer Laughlin China Company – an American pottery company based in Newell, West Virginia, which is best known for producing the colorful, and highly collectible, Fiesta line of dinnerware. A key part of Homer Laughlin’s business yesterday and today is its hotel and restaurant lines. These pieces range from heavy duty industrial china perfect for hard use in all-day diners, to elegant fine china with gold trim. We’re talking chunky, heavy, old school coffee mugs, for example.
Shenango China – From 1909 until 1935, the entire production of Shenango Pottery was devoted to commercial china (hotels, restaurants, and institutions). I currently own 10 Shenango soap dishes and I don’t plan to part with any of them anytime soon. Don’t ask me why I own so many!?!? I was on a soap dish kick for a while because they have so many uses other than holding soap (think: business card holder, jewelry catchall on your nightstand, holding sugar packets, etc.). To read more about the extensive history of Shenango China, you can visit here.
Coors Pottery – collectible pottery made by the Coors Porcelain Company in Golden, Colorado. The company manufactured consumer goods from the 1920s through 1980. The business was renamed CoorsTek in 2000 and is a leading manufacturer of technical ceramics, mostly for laboratories. Coors Pottery also manufactured beer mugs and matte-finish vases, which are often found online and at antique stores. Rarer Coors collectibles include milk canisters and crocks. You can read more about the history of Coors Pottery here.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to properly identify china, visit Kovels to double check on a piece of ironstone you already own or may wish to own. You could even purchase Kovels’ Dictionary of Marks – – Pottery and Porcelain: 1650 to 1850 and look like you’re completely serious about your shopping experience while walking around with it in your hand. Or look like a complete dork, like I do.
Okay. I really hope you enjoyed this series and maybe learned something new about ironstone in the process!? No more history lessons from me for a while, I promise. It’s time I got back to sprucing up our nest, crafting for your pleasure and preparing for the upcoming flea market and garage sale season. Woo hoo!
Thank you for reading!
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