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 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!