Diane Kalas, Inspirational Historical Romance Author

“But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works." Psalm 73:28 (KJV)






Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From Diane's Antique Book Collection

A visit to the etiquette instructor . . . The Lady Abroad – Raising the dress. “When tripping over the pavement, a lady should gracefully raise her dress a little above her ankle. With the right hand, she should hold together the folds of her gown, and draw them towards the right side. To raise the dress on both sides, and with both hands, is vulgar. This ungraceful practice can only be tolerated for a moment, when the mud is very deep.”

Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884

A visit to a 19th century physician . . . Freckles. “Freckles are most apt to trouble persons of light complexion, with light or red hair. They appear to arise from exposure to strong light, and are aggravated by derangement of the stomach, liver, and menstruation. Treatment. – Care as to exposure to strong and direct light; solution of citric acid in rose water, or lotion of bitter almonds with five grains of corrosive sublimate to the half pint may be tried. I have also used successfully a weak solution of oxalic acid. But the most important matter is to attend to the menstrual irregularity, and put the liver, stomach, and spleen in the best possible trim by proper diet and mild purgation.”

Entrikin, M.D., F. W., WOMAN’S MONITOR, Ohio, F. W. Entrikin & Company, 1881

Sunday, January 22, 2012

American White Ironstone

American White Ironstone - Utilitarian, myriad country motifs, purity of the white, smoothness of the glazes all describe a dinnerware known by collectors as white ironstone. Did I mention the weight? Sturdy, durable, or heavy are words used in identifying ironstone pieces. The weight of ironstone sets it apart from other tableware. For instances, I have a large pitcher, green bans around the top, that weighs six pounds! Lighter weight pieces were made for restaurants, hotels, railroads, and ocean liners. Those had company logos, designs of flowers, or specific images pertaining to the customer’s business.

           


In the 1600s until the mid-1800s, American potters supplied simple wares for everyday life. Inexpensive and fragile redware came first for jugs and crocks. By 1800, potters produced Rockingham and yellow ware to add color to homes, and sponged ware are collected today by many.
            English manufacturers produced numerous patterns from 1840 to 1870. The United States imported thousands of pieces; in particular, the all-white designs featuring hexagonal and octagonal panels grew popular with American customers in agricultural areas. This pottery was known as “farmer’s china.” As the American middle-class grew, and could afford finer table settings for their homes, the decline in sales to America caused English manufacturer’s to cut back on white ironstone.
            American potteries that had small-scale production companies, stepped into the void and produced white graniteware from the mid-1800s through the turn-of-the-century. In the beginning, potters used simple patterns and methods copied from English potters in Staffordshire who guarded their secrets closely, handing them down through the generations.  
            The industrial age changed pottery making in America as elsewhere in the world. The gas-fired potteries were in use for the first time in the 1860s, displacing the charcoal and coal-fired kilns. The smoke and ash of the old method caused discoloration of the china. The potter’s wheel disappeared and in its place, machinery would grind the clay to a finer powder. The search for the best clay, required for white ironstone, took artisans ever farther from home when larger quantities were needed.
            As our country’s first centennial approached, the government needed to instill pride in all things American made. To protect manufactured products, the United States government inaugurated a decade of high tariffs – up to 50 percent on imported ceramic wares.





By 1879, eight East Liverpool, Ohio, potteries were making stone china. Wm Brunt Jr. & Co., claim the first to manufacturer white ware near the East Liverpool pottery area. The main chinaware manufacturers in America worked in the potting area of Trenton, New Jersey, and East Liverpool, Ohio. Due to a lack of confidence in American made goods, potteries either unmarked or marked items to make the purchaser think he was buying English imported goods.
            The American potteries mastered the good ceramics engineering required to produce acceptable white ware. As time went by, the heavy white ironstone even became financially profitable to produce. However, potters longed to create beautiful porcelain and bone china that European countries boasted.
            Rural areas continued to use ironstone into the 20th century, but eventually removed remaining pieces to attics or barns. White ironstone disappeared from serving American’s in their homes. For several decades, homemakers turned to lightweight and inexpensive china, even plastics to fill their cupboards.
            Antique collecting never really left a segment of American society that could afford valuable furniture or accessories. The desirability for everything “country,” however, became the craze in the 1960s and 1970s, and “early American” filled even high-end furniture stores.
            The simple, white ironstone pitcher became a symbol of those bygone years when American settlers crossed the Mississippi River for a new beginning out West. As demand for white ironstone increased, the dealers at flea markets, antique shows and malls raised their prices. The last time I checked e-bay, there were 276,000 pieces of white ironstone available. If you want to have a collection that includes pitchers (all sizes and designs), platters, soup tureens (including the bowl, a lid, an under plate, and a ladle), pedestal bowl, coffeepot or teapot, cream and sugar bowl, for example, you will have no problem locating what you want. Prices vary depending upon availability, condition, and rarity. Once you’re hooked on collecting white ironstone, the hunt is on! Enjoy and appreciate a piece of affordable history. 

Note: The white ironstone in the corner cabinet and oak bookcase, featured in this article, is part of my collection.
Sources:
1) Wetherbee, Jean A SECOND LOOK AT WHITE IRONSTONE. Des Moines: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., July 1985
2) Hueston, Marie Proeller WHITE IRONSTONE. Country Living Magazine, November 2003
3)Miller, Judith THE ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES. New York, The Bulfinch Press Book, 2001