November 12, 2012

Collecting: Vintage Ironstone China


I was inspired to write this post because of an earthquake. I know it might sound crazy but there was recently an earthquake in Tennessee. Saturday, I was standing in my living room and all of a sudden, my ironstone china started rattling. Assuming it was fireworks from the football game being played at nearby Neyland Stadium, I just went about my business. Later, when I heard it was an earthquake, I was inspecting my ironstone china collection and that's when I wrote this post.  

I can't remember what prompted me to begin collecting English ironstone china. I don't even know which piece started my collection. Most have been picked up pretty cheaply at estate sales or thrift stores. I even brought an entire thrifted tea set back from Florida in my carry-on luggage. For awhile I didn't have enough pieces to display them all together, but now I've got a fairly sizable collection and I like the visual impact of seeing them in a grouping.  

I think it's fun to collect things...as long as it doesn't take over your life. When I first started collecting, I was always on the lookout for pieces of ironstone, ready to snatch them up. Now that my ironstone china collection has grown, I try to pass on pieces unless they are really unique or different from what I already have. I don't want to end up with so much that I can't really enjoy it because my house is overrun with it. 

Most of my ironstone china pieces are Johnson Brothers or Meakin. I prefer the solid white pieces but some of mine are ironstone china transfer ware and I like those too. I think I'm drawn to ironstone because of its history. I love that each piece was created so long ago -- made to withstand years of use.

Some of my pieces are a little cracked, either from the previous owners or from my own klutzy use (and now they've survived an earthquake!). I don't mind this because I think it adds to the unique story these pieces have to tell.

Do you collect something that holds a special place in your heart? Are you a new collector or is your collection fairly developed? I love hearing your stories about this sort of thing!

6 comments:

  1. What a coincidence! Just yesterday my husband purchased for me a set of Johnson Brother's china for Christmas. We've become the families' go-to destination for Thanksgiving, and I wanted something special to use for such a warm and happy holiday. I'm wondering what sort of story (new or old; I don't care) is behind the print, the stone, and the craftsmanship. I'm excited to write our own stories on the dinnerware!

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  2. Another Johnson Brothers fan here - I always pick up pieces of Rose Chintz whenever I see it.

    Kate, I'm glad none of your collection was damaged in the earthquake. As a Southern Californian, I live in fear that one will someday take out my china cabinet. All the more reason to use the "good" china as often as possible!

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  3. Hi! My backyard is in Tennessee :) I love the area around Knoxville.
    I love your dish collection and I have some I should probably send you.
    I've recently inherited tons of the tea leaf pattern of stoneware.

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  4. I LOVE your collection- I'm totally drooling! I collect ironstone too- and pretty much anything else I find that gets my heart racing ;)

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  5. Your ironstone is gorgeous!! I have been collecting for about three years now. :) I live about 25 miles from the epicenter of the Ky. earthquake (I am in Virginia) and didn't feel a thing. =P Funny!!

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  6. I heard about the earthquake. Very odd to have it there. The china is so pretty. I will have to educate myself on ironstone. I collect way too much, in fact I am down-sizing all of my "stuff" and am at a loss as to how to get "rid" of it. I have oil lamps, thimbles, tins and knick knacks galore!

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Lay it on me y'all!