Ironstone is another one of those kind of trendy collectibles.
The really nice thing about ironstone is that it looks great when your collection is mismatched, so you don’t have to worry about getting all one pattern.
Pieces of ironstone can be found for a quarter, a few dollars, and all the way up to hundreds. Of course, I usually go for the cheap ironstone. I think the crazing, stains, chips and cracks make it more interesting, anyway! Here is some of my collection…
What is ironstone?
Ironstone is a type of stoneware that was first produced in Staffordshire, England by 19th century potters looking for a cheap alternative to porcelain that could be easily mass-produced in English factories.
The name ‘ironstone’ was patented by Charles Mason of Staffordshire in 1813. Mason’s patent ran out quickly and other Staffordshire factories adopted the name ‘ironstone.’
At one point, there were almost 200 makers of ironstone china and they made everything from plates and bowls to tureens, covered casseroles, and gravy boats.
How can you tell if it is ironstone?
Look at the bottom for a mark. Sometimes it will actually say ironstone on the bottom. Sometimes it will have a manufacturer’s name. The best way to tell is by look and feel. It will feel heavier than you think it should. If you flick it with your finger, it should make a ringing sound. The color will range from bright white to cream to beige. Ironstone may have crazing. This is crackling in the glaze of old pieces. You shouldn’t be able to feel it with your finger, just see it. Here is crazing…
Here are some marks…
One of the safest ways to remove brown stains underneath the crazing is by soaking the ironstone in 3% hydrogen peroxide. Put the piece in a plastic container, cover and soak for a couple of days. Then sit it out in the sun to dry.