Neutral Header

Neutral Header

Monday, March 16, 2015

Irresistible Ironstone

My love affair with English ironstone started with these. This pattern is Johnson Brother's Heritage White and I registered for it when I got married almost 38 years ago.
I think it is as stylish today as it was then. 

In fact, ironstone is more popular than ever and highly sought after by collectors. Last week while antiquing at a new shop I spied a heavy ironstone platter. Unfortunately it was out of my price range.While chatting with the owner we discovered we used to live in neighboring towns in New Jersey. She lamented how pricey ironstone has gotten. She says she used to purchase it by the box full and now feels lucky to find stray pieces.

The term "ironstone" was coined back in the early 1800's by Charles Mason, an English potter. He patented a particular process for making durable, mass produced earthenware dishes.  He dubbed it "ironstone" for it's strength. (It does not contain iron in the clay as some believe.) It is opaque as opposed to translucent like porcelain. The term became popular and was adopted by other pottery manufacturers.

 I felt extremely lucky to find eight of these rimmed soup bowls recently while thrift shopping. I love the way they look mixed and matched together. 

In fact, that is one of the great joys of white ironstone. The body (or clay) used is usually very similar from maker to maker so the pieces harmonize. These three pieces are all Johnson Brothers- Athena, Regency and Heritage.

There are countless serving pieces to fit every taste. 

While ironstone is durable it is not unbreakable. A common problem in old pieces is crazing, or the appearance of tiny cracks in the surface.  
To see if a piece is genuine ironstone look on the underside of the plates for the makers mark.  There are too many manufacturers to mention but I like Meakin, Spode, Adams, Johnson Brother's, Mason's, 
Wedgwood Queen's Ware, and those marked Staffordshire.

You can see how the mark on my plates have changed over three decades. The pieces are now dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe. 
American companies got into the act and there are lovely sets made by Red Cliff, Pfaltzgraff, Buffalo and Homer Laughlin among others. 

I can't resist an ironstone tureen or creamer! 

Of course, not all ironstone is white, but that's another post!

I like to join these parties

                   Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper


  1. What a lovely collection. When I was younger I wanted flowery, but now I am in love with whites. Food just looks better.


  2. I enjoyed reading the great information on ironstone. I collect Buffalo restaurant ware. What I love most is finding an ancient piece crackled and brown with age.

  3. I love your beautiful collection! I can't resist a single piece I am lucky enough to find either. I love your pattern you selected for your registry, I have been fortunate to find several pieces of the same pattern over the years! :)

  4. A most delightful post! You have a lovely collection of white ironstone. Like you, I like how you can mix pieces found here and there. I tend to bring home pitchers and tureens. '-)
    Thanks for sharing the interesting information.

  5. I too love it and you have such beautiful pieces! I recently broke my favorite large pitcher and cried real tears!
    I would love for you to stop by my blog and join our Something to Talk About link party!
    Have a great day!

  6. Thanks for sharing all of that info about ironstone. I prefer the more antique ironstone, but when it comes time for cleaning.... Dishwasher safe sounds quite nice! I think it is popular because it goes with everything!

  7. I have those same dishes that you got when you were married. I have many other styles as well. The thing with ironstone is you mix it altogether and it still looks nice. I enjoyed your post. Visiting from Wow Us Wednesday. Have a blessed week. Diane

  8. You have a wonderful collection of favorite is the Red Cliff tureen.

  9. Hey there - LOVE your fabulous ironstone collection…it is so pretty! I love that you can mix and match patterns and styles - and you make it look effortless! Thanks so much for linking up with Karen for our Something To Talk About Link Party!

  10. These pieces are so awesome! You are speaking my love language. I love all of your pieces. They are so versatile and I know you'll get many years of enjoyment from them. Just popped over to say hi from the Something to Talk About Link Party! CoCo

  11. What a great collection of ironstone. I myself just recently started collecting. I really love your soup tureen. I seem to be drawn to them. Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Lovely collection!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

  13. Oh wow your one soup tureen is gorgeous! Love it! Thanks for joining HSH!

  14. Beautiful pieces!! I have a lot of the same ones....and a bunch of other "stuph".
    Thank you so much for this great post!

  15. Super fabulous! I LOVE ironstone, it's so versatile and beautiful even when it starts crazing,
    (my favorite kind!) Gorgeous collection.