Department of Anthropology

Ironstone (semi-vitrified or vitrified)

  • Type: Vitrified white earthenware
  • Date range: c.1815-1900+
  • Peak: after 1850 (plain variety)
  • Place of origin: England, North America

In texture, ironstone is intermediate between earthenware and porcelain, although it is technically an earthenware. Decorative methods include moulded relief, transfer print, painted, gilded and slip-banded. The colours vary from flowing colours to bright enamels and gilding added over a printed outline.

Ironstone was generally used for tablewares, kitchenwares and toiletwares.

Ironstone began as an earthenware influenced by the oriental porcelains in the early 19th century. Later ironstone served as an alternative to the cheap china from Europe. It was not produced in quantity until the 2nd half of the 19th century.

Ironstone was also known as "White Granite" and "Stone China."

Also see Wheat Pattern.

See Collard 1967:125, Noel Hume 1976: 130-131, South 1977: 211 (under stoneware)


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Photo: Ironstone bowl with maker's mark