Born in England nearly two centuries ago, this earthenware emigrant continues to delight collectors the world over with its gleaming finish, clean lines, and charming designs.
Embossed patterns featuring grains, flowers, and leaves distinguish pieces made in the 1850s and 1860s.
English white ironstone has been tickling the fancy of Americans with its decidedly unfancy appeal since it was first imported and fervently acquired in the nineteenth century. Now a chic antique, the gleaming all-white earthenware has a goes-with-anything simplicity and a fits-in-anywhere charm that elicit as much pleasure among modern-day collectors as when it graced the tables of colonists, pioneers, and Victorians centuries ago.
Ever since the era in which English white ironstone made its way across the ocean, the sturdy stuff has remained an accessible, sought-after prize. To this day, its many collectors continue to scour antiques markets, tag sales, and online auctions in search of the perfect teapot, gravy boat, or tureen to treasure.
The ability to identify English ironstone comes with experience and knowledge, as well as a practiced eye. Some pieces bear a distinguishing mark, although others do not. Color also provides clues about age and origin: Newer American-made ironstone appears creamy white when compared with earlier, authentic English pieces that possess a snowy white or barely blue gray hue. When American potters took up producing all-white wares in the late nineteenth century, English pottery sold less extensively.
Text Kate Carter Frederick
Photography Kimberly Finkel Davis
Styling Yukie Mclean
To learn more about white English ironstone, read “The Beauty of Ironstone” on page 68 in the January/February 2009 issue of Victoria.