Vintage enamelware, also called enameled ware, became popular in the 19th century, when manufacturers of kitchen staples such as pots and pans coated everything from heavy cast iron to lighter steel with enamel. When fired, the enamel glazed, creating a non-porous surface that was easier to clean than exposed metal. White was a standard color on enamelware since that gave plates, mugs, ladles, and coffee pots a bright, sanitary appearance. The rims of lightweight steel enamelware were often trimmed in a solid band of red or blue, while enameled cast iron, designed for the stovetop and oven, was usually white on the inside but colored on the exterior, most classically in orange.

An important variation of lightweight enamelware was graniteware, which had a speckled surface (the effect is sometimes described as mottled, but mottled pieces are not considered true graniteware). Patented in 1848 by New York inventor Charles Stumer, graniteware—also known as agateware and speckleware—enjoyed a long run in the United States, filling kitchen shelves and cabinets from the 1870s until the end of World War II.

Among the many U.S. manufacturers of graniteware were the St. Louis Stamping Company, which marketed its products under the Granite Iron Ware brand, Lalance and Grosjean, whose Peerless Gray Ware was sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company, the Bellaire Stamping Company, and Vollrath. A parallel enamelware industry developed in Europe, particularly in Czechoslovakia, whose manufacturers tended to use bold colors like blue and white and simple patterns such as plaids and polka dots.

The advantages of enamelware were its low cost, light weight, smooth surface, and glossy finish. Unfortunately, enamel surfaces were also prone to cracking, which would expose the metal beneath, causing it to rust. This tendency was so widespread, a company called Mendets did a brisk business in the 1930s selling patch kits.

In general, enamelware can be dated by the heft of the piece. For example, an enamelware coffee pot from the beginning of the 20th century is noticeably heavier than one made after World War II. Sound can also be a clue. If you tap the bottom of a brightly colored enamelware mug with your fingernail and it sounds tinny, it was probably made in the 1970s.

The enameling of cast iron goes back as far as the enameling of steel, but the popularity of enameled cast iron did not take off until the early 1950s, when a French company from the 1920s, Le Creuset, began exporting its pots, pans, and casseroles to the United States. An orange color called Flame was Le Creuset’s first hue; yellow followed in 1956.

In the 1960s, a Belgium line called Descoware (called Bruxelles Ware when the company was founded in the 1940s) gained acclaim when Julia Child used the cookware on her TV show. In addition to orange and yellow, Descoware made pieces in Descorama patterns based on maple leaves, tulips, and ivy, while the Markley series had a classic ’60s-graphics look.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Set 5 Midcentury Modern Arabia Finel Finland Enamel Bowl Franck Pop Art FlowersLe Creuset 14317 6 Gallon Enameled Cast Iron Pot, NavyExc Cathrineholm Norway Vintage Mid Century Modern 4" Yellow Lotus Enamel BowlsLarge 9 1/2" Catherineholm White With Orange Lotus Design BowlLe Creuset Enameled Cast-iron 7-1/4- Quart Casserole Pot Red France Catherine Holm Mid-century White On Green Lotus Bowl 8"Vintage Arabia Finland Enamel Hearts Bowl, 6 1/4"Catherineholm Enamel Ware Lotus Bowl Blue On Blue 8", Vintage MidcenturyVintage Cathrineholm Norway 4qt Orange Red Lotus Enamelware Casserole Dutch OvenLe Creuset White Enamel Cast Iron Skillet Fry Pan 10.5" France # 26 Gently UsedLe Creuset White Enamel Cast Iron Skillet Fry Pan 8" Gently UsedVintage Finel - Arabia Finland Enamel Designer BowlVintage Cathrineholm Yellow Lotus Enamelware 4” Bowl (b)Cathrineholm Norway Lotus White & Orange 9" Saute Pan W Wood HandleVtg Mid Century Enamelware Bowl - Maroon Gold Horse Flags Asian - Finel? Siltal?Le Creuset White Enamel Cast Iron Skillet Fry Pan 6.5 " Gently UsedCathrineholm Horizontal Stripe/band Enamel Bowl 8 3/4"-mcm/danish Modern EraFinel Arabia Enamel Bowl Mid Century Modern Finland Retro ModVintage Le Creuset France Blue Cast Iron Enamel Pot, Pan & Skillet SetLe Creuset 10" Cast Iron Enamel Square Grill Pan WhiteVintage French Le Creuset 7 1/4 Qt Yellow Enamel Dutch Oven Stock Pot #28Mid Century Modern Cathrineholm Enamelware Orange 9.5" Lotus Bowl VintageVintage Mid Century Catherineholm Blue White Stripe Enamel Enamelware 6" Bowl NrVintage Le Creuset France #23 Blue Skillet Pan Double Spout Enamel Cast IronMid Century Large Descoware Enamel Cast Iron Saucepan Casserole Spout MarkleyVintage Cathrineholm Yellow Lotus Enamelware 4” Bowl (a)Midcentury Modern Dansk Kobenstyle Enamel Metal Blue Pitcher FranceArt Nouveau Loetz Aventurine Documented Decor Art Glass Bowl Gold EnamelDansk Kobenstyle Blue Enamel Loaf Bread Pan Jens Quistgaard Danish Modern FranceBlue Le Creuset 26 France 5-1/2qt Dutch Oven Cast Iron Enamel No Lid Baking PotCathrineholm Enamel Lotus Bowl Orange White Pattern 8" Vtg Le Creuset 26 Blue Enameled Cast Iron 10 1/4" Round Skillet/fry Pan FranceVintage Catherineholm Yellow Saturn Fondue Pot Under Tray & Burner PotAntique Blue & White Swirl Splash Spattered Graniteware Dipper Ladle Enamelware Vintage Enamelware Green Coffee Pot Tea Kettle 2 Small Catherine Holm Black & White Stripe Red & White Bowl Enamelware2 Small Catherineholm Norway Enamel Lotus Bowls Avocado Green WhiteAntique Vintage French Enamelware Enamel Biggin Coffee Pot White & BlackMid Century Dansk Red Enamel Fondue Pot W Cast Iron Warmer Stand France Has ChipVintage Catherineholm 9.5 Inch Sea Foam Green Enamelware Mixing Bowl Mid Century(2) Monterrey Western Ware Chuckwagon Enamel Oval 15" Serving Plates EnamelwareEuc Le Creuset Sauce Pot W Lid #20 Enamel Cast IronLe Creuset 10 Qt. Enamel On Steel Stock Pot Cousances Le Creuset 22 Brown 9" Dia. Dutch Oven Enamelware Cast Iron FranceRetro Krenit Denmark Orange Red Black Enamel Bowl Eames EraRare Vintage Large Tea Kettle Enamelware Cream With Green Trim Blue Enamelware~~dansk Kobenstyle Stock Pot With Lid- Nice!Vintage Catherineholm Norway Avocado Green 9" Enamelware PlateVintage Red And White Enamelware Tea Coffee Pot Great Shelf PieceVintage Enamel Pitcher 7 " Tall Black Handle And TrimCathrineholm Vintage Enamel Pan Pot 10pc Lot W/ Lids, Handles Blue / White LotusVintage Dansk Denmark Ihq Kobenstyle Red 2 Quart Enamel Pot Dutch Oven Statham 8" Dish Shallow Bowl Blue Enamel-on-copper, Handcrafted Ephraim , WiEmalia Olkusz Large Red Polka Dot Enamel Pitcher Mini Mouse Look Enamelware 10"Vintage Mid Century Dansk Yellow Enamel Bowl Koben Style Made France 7"x 6" TallSigned Villeroy & Boch Germany Basket W Fruit Enamel Metal Round Buffet ServerVintage French Enamelware/graniteware Coffee Biggin Pot Blue/floral Chantal Classic Green Enamel Over Steel With Polished S/s Tea Kettle Pot EcMartha Stewart Collector's Enamel Cast Iron 12" Frying Pan Cranberry Red 8251042Le Creuset Cast Iron Enamel Saucepan #14 Red Wood Handle Pour Spout Vtg Pot