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    

Lauffer Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven Roasting PanMartha Stewart Collection Enameled Cast Iron 8 Quart Blue Round Casserole 66Rare Antique Graniteware Enamelware Flask Canteen With Original LidLe Creuset #30 Blue Enamel Cast Iron 12" Skillet Frying PanVintage Le Creuset Cousances Enamel Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan 24 Long HandleLe Creuset Cast Iron. Red Enamel Griddle Grill Pan 8.5" X 12.5" Vintage Childs Enamel Graniteware Cookware & Advertising Enamel PanLg. Vintage Enamelware Western Cowboy Platter With Bronco, Wagon, Brand. IronNwob Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron #30 Dutch Oven Avocado / GreenVintage Cousances Le Creuset Cast Iron Enameled Orange Flame Sauce Pan Ac 22Bhg Porcelain Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven 6 Qt Pot + Lid. No ReserveVintage Antique Enamelware Coffee Pot 6 Cup Red White Stovetop All Parts In TactJapanese Dragon & Rose Motif Tea Kettle Pot Pewter W/enamel InsideLe Creuset France Casserole Baker W/ Lid Enamel Cast Iron Oval Blue & White 3cupCathrine Holm Norway Blue/white Enamel Small 5 ½" Bowl 'lotus' Pattern McmLot Vtg. Mid Century Stainless Teak Serving Trays - Gense Cathrineholm Kalmar &Descoware, 2 Vintage Sauce Pans And A Lid, Flaming Orange 3" X 5 "Dansk Designs Kobenstyle Lasagna Pan Red/white 10"x13" Ihq Quistgaard Mcm FranceMartha Stewart Collection 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Round Red Casserole 673 Vintage Mid-century Enamel Paella Pans - Yugoslavia - Red, Yellow & BlueMid Century 50's/ 60's Le Creuset "flame" Orange # 24 Oval Cocotte Beauty!Le Creuset Enameled Cast-iron 1-3/4-quart Traditional Fondue Pot, Flame(dl91820)Monterrey Western Ware 4 Plates Enamel Ware 1950s Vintage Cowboy DinnerwareLe Creuset #30 Large Enameled 2 Pourer Pan OrangeKaj Franck Vintage Mushroom Enamelware Bowl ,fairie,troll Lower PriceMartha Stewart Collection Enameled Cast Iron 3 Quart Round Red Casserole 69Vtg Dru Holland Blue Enamel Cast Iron Frying Pan #17Vintage Elite Czechoslovakia Enamelware Tea Pot Beautiful Good Vintage Condition Painted Floral Flowers Chic Enamel Tray CottageLe Creuset #24 Blue Enamel Cast Iron Long Wood Handled 9.5" Skillet Frying PanLa Creuset Round Pot 2 Quart Blue #18. Perfect No ReserveSigned Leon Statham Enamel On Copper Bowl Yellow Vintage Mid Century 6"Vintage Le Creuset 9 1/2" Cherry Red Enameled Fry PanLe Creuset Au Gratin Pans Enamel Cast Iron Oblong #28 Blue Casserole BowlLarge Vintage Antique White Enamel Coffee Pot Black Trim Percolator W BasketVintage San Ignacio Red Enamel Sauce Pan/saucepan With Lid~spainArtist Kelvin Chen Handmade Copper & Enamel Miniature Tea Pot~ MintVintage White/black Trim Graniteware Enamelware Coffee Pot Large 11" TallSet Of 7 Vintage Enamelware Pots Lids Bowl Green And CreamSet Of 4 Vintage Enamelware Pots Lid White And BlackBella Red Enamel Cast Iron Cookware Casserole Pan 2.75 Qt BhfoVintage Green Swirl Enamel Cooking PotLe Creuset Metal Enamel Casserole Dish W/ Handles Orange France Pan BakingVintage Prizer Ware Cast Iron Enamel 9 " Skillet Fry Pan Marble Canyon Enamelware Plates Bowl Rodeo Rider Cowboy Bucking HorseEnamelware Dish Set White 12 Piece Camping Tailgating Picnic Or Everyday UseCoushatta Casino Resort Blue Cast Iron Enamel Casserole Dish With LidVintage Enamelware Granite Blue Swirl Cake Pan CasserolePre-owned - Le Creuset #22 Flame Orange Cast Iron Enamel Sauce Pan - MsVintage Metal Popcorn Bowl Porcelain EnamelCopco D2 Enameled Cast-iron Dutch Oven Yellow DenmarkArtist Kelvin Chen Handmade Copper & Enamel Miniature Tea Pot~coa~ MintArtist Kelvin Chen Handmade Copper & Enamel Miniature Tea Pot~ MintVintage White With Red Trim Porcelain Enamel Ware 12" Wash BowlVintage French Enamelware Pan 4-pc Set Retro Green And Orange10" Square Cast Iron Enamelware Grill Pan - Staub - 26 - Made In FranceCopco Cast Iron Brown Enamel Skillet Saute Fry Pan With Lid Michael Lax NiceVintage Enamelware Nesting Bowls ~ Green With Cream ~ Two Bowls Ex Cond Rare Catherineholm Enamel Striped Seafoam Bowl Mid Century 9 1/2"Dansk Kobenstyle Paella Pan 10" Quistgaard Red Enamel Pot France