Tuesday, April 29, 2014

WHAT IS...............Ironstone?

First off, I want to say thank you to all the people who sent out comments, emails and insta-love about our dining room and my off hand comments about knowing your own style yesterday. I felt the love for my somewhat strange title of vintage eclectic global farmhouse style. I think in our world of blogging it is easy to find yourself getting lost or not feeling as "up with it" because the white style bloggers seem to have all the followers or are asked to participate in all the tours. We must remember that while those things are nice, we have to love where we live and it is where our families are created. No one wants to spend a fortune creating a space that isn't even one they want to live in just to impress others.

Now,I know that title to many of us blogger seems silly as most bloggers know exactly what ironstone is and how sought after each piece is.

As I am gearing up for my next show on May 31, I thought I would do a little series named 

What Is.......

on some of the items that local non-blogging people may not know about and share here and on facebook with the new followers I have gained since the last show in October.

 There were a definite few items I noticed people giving confused glances about during the show that seem like such treasures here in blogland so it is time to do a little eduma-cation Oliver and Rust style.

First up is


Ironstone china is defined on Meriam-Webster as:

a hard heavy durable white pottery developed in England early in the 19th century with first known use in 1825

Ironstone is made in everything from plates, cups, pitchers, tureens, pedestals, and chamber pots.

Ironstone is seen in transferware patterns (decorative printing transfered onto ironstone usually in scenic patterns of blue, green, brown or red) and the most sought after whites in blog land adding instant farmhouse chic to your place settings and decor

Most ironstone is made in England with some pieces being made in China/Japan.
Ironstone is usually marked on the bottom by a maker. This piece above is an ironstone toothbrush holder. Amazing display piece.

Vintage white ironstone cream and sugar set 

I bought my first piece of ironstone right after starting my blog and immediately a new collection was born. I found a chamber pot and plopped in an orchid and have had plants in my chamber pots ever since. I love the hunt to find new pieces especially as we do not live in an ironstone rich area like some people, ahem.... Miss Mustard Seed.  i swear i see green when she shows the table loads she comes home with in 1 day. it takes me a year to collect that amount to sell.
I myself am not fussy when it comes to chips and cracks as I am not seeking perfection with my ironstone just the look and love of the different whites.

Faded charm.........TIMEWASHED, ceramic display, open shelving, 

Most pieces are pure white ranging to a cream-brown tone. The deeper the tone usually reflects some sort of micro- large fracture in the glaze of the ironstone and after years of washing/handling the white stone turns colour. The piece may also develop little lines in the glaze called crazing. Most collectors find these deficiencies just as beautiful as a perfect white piece as they are using them for display or adding to some serious collections as seen in the above and below photographs.

Hvítur LAKKRÍS How does she find all these beautiful things??? 


Great places to start looking for pieces of ironstone are garage sales with the warm weather coming. Ebay, and Etsy especially yield some fantastic finds in a range of prices. Certain styles and pieces (ie. sugar bowls and tureens) command higher prices because of their rarity  but a little hunting around and patience will help you get a good start.

If all else fails and you are heading out to our show, there will be a ton of great pieces from perfect condition to display at Oliver and Rust show on May 31

Hope you enjoyed the first in What is....?

Have a great day,


  1. Great piece and info! I have the same pot as you with hydrangeas in it on my kitchen table. Have a good week!

  2. I had never heard of ironstone til I started blogging!!! I have to say THANK YOU. I SO agree that we have to make our homes what WE love and want. Many years ago I admired what a friend did in her home and tried to copy alot of it. I finally realized that it was NOT me. I then started decorating with things I loved and wanted and then I felt CALM, and restful. I LOVE warm colors and she had a blues and whites. So, I painted all my wals in golds and rusts and greens and was so HAPPY and content. I could sit in my rust colored living room and just stare at the walls. Your post is so informative, thanks!!!

  3. I love ironstone, but I do have a few questions..hopefully you have time to answer with your busy schedule..

    okay I have found a few pieces with no markings on the bottom but they do have that ironstone feel and look to them, if they don't have markings does that mean it's not ironston?

    My other question is how can you tell the difference between ironstone and ceramics? I mean some ceramic that's real old does look like ironstone? It's a little confusing sometimes.

  4. Another quick question..I promise; will you be selling french bread boards at your show..oh and yes I'll be back!..I love them and looking for a few more to add to my little collections!! :)

    1. hey ginette.
      i have just started doing show inventory and think i have 1 french bread board that will be for sale. there a few other types of bread boards as well but only the 1 large round one.
      with regards to the ironstone there are a lot of pieces that aren't marked and it takes practice to start telling the difference. the biggest difference between the 2 is the weight (ironstone is heavier) and the colour tone of the ironstone will be less pure in colour than the ceramic. usually looking like it has depth or light variation. ceramic is quite a bit smoother and lighter. i hope this helps.
      have a good one

    2. Yes it helped, I've seen so many pieces that was tagged ironstone and I was I don't think so, good to know that they are heavier, anyway of getting a price on the bread board..pretty please..lol

    3. hi ginette
      the bread boards are priced at 120.00. i get them from the states and this is the last one like i said for right now until i get a chance to get down there again.

  5. I enjoyed your little write-up Meg but would like to add that an excellent source for ironstone sometimes can be auctions too, which I am very much a part of.
    Good luck with your show this month...

  6. Where is shop/show? I'd love to visit. I like your pragmatic approach to things, along with your decorating style.
    I'm not a white-room person, either, although they are lovely. There are so many gorgeous colors out there, it's hard to decide in which direction to go! :)

    I kinda knew what ironstone was, but now I actually know. There are a lot of lovely, antique white dishes out there, but none have the heft of ironstone. Something about its feel in your hands, I guess.

    I appreciate your What is and will be reading! :)

    1. hi christine.
      i am in welland, ontario and all the information for the show on May 31 comes up on the blog and can be found on my facebook event page at www.facebook.com/oliverandrust. thanks for visiting and enjoying

  7. Hi Meg -
    just want you readers to know that there are were also American producers of white Ironstone. Starting in the 1850's and onward, with initial production in the Trenton, NJ area, major manufacturers included Homer Laughlin, Empire Pottery, Syracuse, Onandaga and Walter Scott Lenox. (to name a few). Ironstone lovers can also find pieces with these names on them. However, like their British counterparts, not all American manufacturers marked their pieces. In response to a craze for collecting white ironstone in the 1950's, Red Cliff (potteries in NJ and other cities) began to produce white ironstone. Same characteristics as their English and American ancestors but can often be found with little to no crazing since it is not as old. Red Cliff is usually marked. THE best source for ironstone information are books by Jean Weatherbee, an excellent source for names of patterns as well as the identification marks impressed in to (rather than printed on) many pieces. WICA (White Ironstone China Association) also provides a wealth of info on their website and has both local, state and national groups of collectors and experts.


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