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    

Rare Red Rosenlew Timo Sarpaneva 2 Qt Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pot Mcm VtgChic French Enamel Coffee Pot Shabby Antique Green Roses BigginFour Bowls Enamel & Steel Krenit Herbert Krenchel Design Red Orange Black.....Le Creuset #30 Cast Iron Enamelware Braising Dutch Oven With Lid Red Orange NrChic French Enamel Coffee Pot Shabby Antique Blue Daisies BigginVintage Enzo Mari Le Creuset #25 Cast Iron Enamel Pan Italian Design-french MadeChic French Enamel Coffee Pot Shabby Antique Green Bird FloralMonterrey Western Ware Large Water/milk Pitcher Rare,enamel Cowboy ChuckwagonVintage 1960s Kockum Sweden Orange Enamel Coffee Pot + Lion Tea Cover CosyGorgeous Round #24 Turquoise Blue Vintage Le Creuset Doufeu Dutch Oven Near FineCathrineholm Orange Lotus Enamel Skillet Pan Norway 9" Vintage Mid CenturyLe Creuset Whistling Tea Kettle Pot Carribean Blue Teapot Enameled Steel 1.8 QtVtg Antique Enamelware Graniteware 2 Pc Soap Dish Blue White Speckled Mottled Dansk Kobenstyle Huge Dutch Oven Pot Lid 9 Qt 11 3/4" X 5" Brown Enamel FranceCatherineholm White On Blue 9 1/2" X 4" Enamelware BowlLe Creuset 15.5" Cast Iron Enamel Oval Skillet Fish Pan - CherryVintage Cathrineholm Norway Enamel Lasagne Pan Blue Lotus 11x9 Mid CenturyLe Creuset Green Enamel & Cast Iron 3.5 Qt Pot W/ Lid # 22 Braising Dutch Oven Vintage Antique Enamelware Miniature Graniteware Pitcher Gray OldVintage Le Creuset Sauce Pan Spout Rare White 18 Cast Iron Enamel 7”x3Graniteware Enamelware Wall Rack W 2 Spoons Utensils Chic Country French ChippyVintage Dansk Ihq Danish Modern France Red Pan Koben Style Enamel Cookware Brides Bowl Basket Enamel Enamelled Pontil Antique Brown & White Swirl Graniteware Enamelware Berry Bucket Pail With LidBrides Bowl Basket Cased Glass Enamel Enamelled Pontil Vintage Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Saute Skillet Pan Turquoise Aqua Blue 6.5"Gray White Splatterware Enamel Coffee Pot Hp Rooster Apple Handpainted T.mcmurryVintage Finel Enamel Sunflower Bowl Arabia Finland Mid Century ModernVtg Enamel Ware Graniteware Blue & White Wash Basin Bowl Pan Chippy Farmhouse Dj-dansk France Blue Enamelware Kobenstyle Jens Quistgaard Casserole+sauce PotRare Htf Mid Century Set Of 3 Cathrineholm Black Lotus Enamel Bowls & Wood Base Vintage Cathrineholm Norway Enamel Blue Lotus Skillet / Saute / Fry Pan Mod Vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Aqua Turquoise Enamel Pitcher, Denmark W/ LogoVintage Enamelware Graniteware Blue Cobalt Soap Dish 2 Pc Wall Mount8.5" Copco Denmark Red Cast Iron Enamel Skillet Loge Frying Pan #200Vintage, Rare Pink Le Creuset Descoware Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, #22 Rare!Le Creuset Pink Enameled Cast Iron Pot / Dutch Oven - Made In FranceAntique Brown & White Swirl Graniteware Enamelware Coffee PotVintage Le Creuset 4 Quart Round French Oven Stock Pot Dutch Oven Orange FlameGranitware,enamelware Berry Pail/bucket;grey Granit Tin Lid Pail Old 5"wx3-1/2"h12 Pc Lot Monterrey Western Ware Dinner Plates & Cups, Enamel Cowboy ChuckwagonVintage Green Kobenstyle Dansk Dutch Oven 2 QuartKaj Franck White Black Mushroom Bowl ~ Metal Enamel ArabiaVintage Enamelware/graniteware Kitchen Strainer/colander - White With Red TrimVintage Turquoise Blue Le Creuset Cast Iron Enamel #36 Oval Au Gratin Pan LargeCatherineholm Norway Blue Enamel Lotus Bowl Danish Modern Bowl Krenit Eames EraSix Different Mid Century West Greman Enamel On Copper Dishes Bowls - MintChic French Enamel Coffee Pot Shabby Antique Blue Roses BigginMid Century Cathrineholm Enamelware Yellow Striped Bowl Exc 9.5"Catherineholm Bowl 8" Greenish Yellow Lotus Japanese Hobnail Cast Iron Tea Pot With Stainless Steel Infuser, Enamel LinedDansk Vintage Jhq Kobenstyle France Enamelware Orange Ihq Mid-century Casserole Vintage Enamelware Granite Comb Toothbrush Holder Container 2 Pc Green Shaded Set Of 3 Vintage Sears Merry Mushroom Enamelware BowlsLe Creuset Vintage Cast Iron Orange # 24 Frying Pan Skillet Wood Handle FranceDk-set Lot 3 Vintage Dansk Enamelware White Casserole Dishes-oven To TableMid-century Descoware Ketttle Markley Pattern Cast Iron Enamel BelgiumCatherineholm Lotus Pot W/ Handles Yellowish Green ExcellentVintage Water Pitcher, Enamel Ware Coated Metal, Greenish & WhiteAntique Granitware Coffee Pot Blue White;enamel Ware Coffee/tea Pot 9-1/4" H Old