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    

Antique Enamelware Wall Fountain / Sink ~ Vintage Primitive Garden Decor 2102Vintage Kaj Franck Arabia Finel Mcm Enamel 5 1/2' Mushroom Bowl FinlandAntique Hanging Enamelware Water Pitcher / Bucket ~ Vintage Primitive Decor 2049Cathrineholm Norway Mid Century Blue On Blue Lotus Enamel 11" BowlRare 18thc Qianlong Peking Enamel Wash Bowl Wonderful PaintingCathrineholm 8" Lotus Bowl Black & White Enamel Danish Modern NorwayCathrineholm 9 1/2" Lotus Bowl Black & White Enamel Danish Modern NorwayCathrineholm Spice RackTwo Cathrineholm Norway Yellow White Lotus Enamelware Metal Bowls 5 1/2" & 4"Rare Catherineholm Square Black & White Flag Large Enameled Bowl Mid Century ModVintage Mid Century Cathrineholm Norway Orange On White 7 1/4" Lotus Enamel BowlCatherineholm Rare Black & White Square Flag Large Enameled Bowl Danish ModernSet Of X 3 Vintage Cathrineholm 14 Cms Lotus Pattern BowlCathrineholm 5 1/2" Lotus Bowl Black & White Enamel Danish Modern NorwayCathrineholm Large 11" Blue Lotus Enamel BowlAntique Enamelware Milk Can W/ Lid ~ Primitive Vintage Farm Rustic Decor 2077Cathrineholm Norway Vintage Enamel Yellow & White Lotus 8" Mixing BowlArabia Finland Kaj Franck Enamel Bowl Blue Tulips Bluebells Mid Century ModernCathrineholm - Vintage Blue & White Mid-century Modern Enamel Mixing BowlsBrown Granite Ware Enamel Coffee Pot W/ Metal Lid Le Creuset White Enamelware Cast Iron 10" Round Skillet Frying Pan Used OnceLe Creuset Enameled Cast-iron Oval Dutch Oven 5 Quarts In FlameVintage Cathrineholm 20 Cms Lotus Pattern BowlVintage Enamelware Soap Dish Crisolite , Blue- Green And White Swirl AshtrayAntique Enamelware Water / Milk Pitcher ~ Vintage Primitive Farm Decor 2121Vintage Mcm Cathrineholm Catherine Holm Orange Lasagna Casserole Enamel Pan Antique Enamelware Berry Bucket ~ Vintage Primitive Rustic Farm Decor Tool 2085Antique Hanging Enamelware Flour Canister ~ Vintage Primitive Rustic Decor 2078Vintage Htf Mid Century Cathrineholm Norway Blue On Blue 4" Lotus Enamel BowlAntique Red Enamelware Milk Bucket / Pail ~ Vintage Primitive Farm Decor 2129Figgjo Daisy Enamel Fondue Pan Norway Turi Design Vintage Scandinavian Kaj Franck Finel Arabia Blue Clover Enamel Bowl Mid Century Scandinavian ModernAntique Enamelware Milk Bucket W/ Lid ~ Vintage Primitive Farm Cow Decor 2120Descoware Belgium Flame Orange Enamel Cast Iron Bean Pot Fe 3 3 QtVintage Cathrineholm Green W/ White Lotus Casserole Baking Pan EnamelwareCooks Blue Enameled Cast Iron 8" Pot Dutch Oven W/ LidVintage Mid Century Catherineholm Norway Yellow Enamel BowlAntique Enamelware Milk Pitcher ~ Vintage Primitive Milk Cow Farm Decor 20753 Vintage Western Ware Cowboy Bucking Horse Brands Chuckwagon Mug Cup EnamelwareVtg Cathrineholm Mid Century Modern Turquoise Blue Enamel Lotus Teapot Kettle5 Vintage Cowboy Western Bucking Horse Brands Enamelware Cereal Soup Salad BowlsVintage Le Creuset Enamel Cast Iron Baking Roasting Casserole Pan Swing HandlesCatherine Holm Norway From Maine Estate Decorated Plate Mid Century Modern BluesCatherineholm Blue White Lotus Leaf Norway Lidded Casserole Pan Eames EraLe Creuset 36 Orange Flame Enamel Cast Iron Oval Au Gratin Baking Pan Dish 16x10Vintage Cathrineholm 28 Cms Lotus Pattern BowlVintage Blue & White Swirl / Marbled Graniteware / Enamel Coffee Pot Hinged LidCatherine Holm Norway From Maine Estate Decorated Big Bowl Mid Century BluesCatherine Holm Norway From Maine Estate Decorated Big Bowl White With StripesRare Vtg Chrysolite Enamelware Coffee Pot With Green SwirlsLarge Antique Vtg Graniteware Enamel Baby Bath Tub Wash Basin PorcelainGraniteware - Enamelware 3 Tier Spoon Holder , Egg Holder Light BlueAntique Blue Enamelware Strainer ~ Vintage Primitive Farm Kitchen Decor 2048Blue / White Willow Enamel Water PotLe Creuset Blue Enamel No. 26 10.5" Skillet Take A Look ,Vintage White Enamelware Bowl And PitcherVintage Krenit Enamel Steel Black & Mint Bowl 50s 60s Retro DanishAntique Red Enamelware Milk / Water Pitcher ~ Vintage Primitive Farm Decor 2124Le Creuset #22 Saucepan Flame No Lid Excellent Condition!Catherineholm Vintage Plater