What Is Ironstone?

Written by kim kenney
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Ironstone is a sturdy, durable form of china that is usually undecorated. It was first produced in the 19th century by British potters who exported it to the U.S.

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Definition

Ironstone is mass-produced china that is more durable than porcelain and harder than earthenware. It is heavy, thick, and sturdy.

Origin

Charles James Mason patented the first ironstone pottery in 1813 in Staffordshire, England. His formula included flint, clay, and iron slag, which gave ironstone its name.

Export

In the 1840s British potters began exporting ironstone to the U.S. American consumers preferred undecorated pottery, so most exported ironstone is plain white. Domestic British ironstone patterns usually depicted transferware Asian motifs printed in blue.

Appearance

Although exported ironstone was not typically painted or printed, it usually featured a white-on-white embossed pattern of flowers, leaves or other designs.

Use

Ironstone was made and used for everyday dining. Therefore, most collectible pieces are imperfect, adding character to each piece. According to MyGranny'sAttic.com, ironstone's patina inspires collectors to ask questions about a piece's previous owner.

Other Names

Ironstone has also been known as stone china, new stone, graniteware, white granite, semiporcelain, opaque porcelain, or English porcelain.

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