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    

Vintage Ellamarie & Jackson Woolley Enamel Copper Bowl Drerup Eames Era ModernCathrineholm Mid Century Modern Black Enamel Lotus 1 Large Bowl W 10 Salad BowlsVintage Cathrineholm Of Norway Small Pink On White Lotus Enamel Bowl 5.5" Rare Htf Arabia Finland Finel Enamel Bowl Kaj Franck Meat Cheese Must See!Vintage Mcm Norway Catherineholm 5 Piece Yellow Lotus Flower Enamel Salad SetRob Pruitt's Flea Market: Vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Enamel 9.75 Pitcher TurquoiseRob Pruitt's Flea Market: Vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Enamel Sauce Pan Wrap HandlePair 18th C. Bilston Battersea Enamel On Copper Figural Landscape Salts / BowlsVintage Cathrineholm Blue On Blue Enamel Lotus Bowl Norway 8.0" EnamelwareVintage Le Creuset Made In France White Enamel Cast Iron Skillet #16 Frying PanVintage Mid Century Cathrineholm Lotus Lasagna Pan Enamel OrangeSet Of Six Vintage Herbert Krenchel Krenit Denmark Small Enamel Condiment BowlsRob Pruitt's Flea Market: Vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Enamel Saute Pan Wrap HandleArabia Finel Colorful Vegetables Watermelon Enamel Bowl Kaj FranckLe Creuset 2 In 1 Pot & Pan Skillet Combo 3.75 Quart Red Enamel Multifunction Vintage Arabia Finland 5.5" In Height 8" Diameter Hearts Bowl~enamel~kaj Franck12" Blue Catherineholm Dinner PlateCathrineholm Norway Enamelware Large Bowl Green White Stripes 9 1/2" MidcenturyVintage Enamelware Bread Box WhiteMartha Stewart Collection 11" Enameled Cast Iron Grill PanScare "nesco Royal Granite Enameled Ware Pot+ Pan Scraper" Metal Litho Antique Enamelware Milk Can ~ Rustic Vintage Primitive Farmhouse Décor 5309Cathrineholm Lotus Enamelware Tea Pot Kettle Mid Century Modern 1960s Vintage White Enamelware Pitcher 2 QuartAntique Enamelware Milk Can ~ Vintage Primitive Tuscan Farmhouse Decor 5340Vintage Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Saute Pan #23 Size Cobalt Blue Vgc BeautyLarge Enamel White 24 Cup PitcherVintage Cathrinholm Enamelware Bowl 8" Golden Yellow With White Lotus LeavesOld Vintage White Enamelware Milk Bucket ~ Primitive Antique Farm Decor 5280Rare Mid Century Modern Tony Paul Woodlin-hall Ny Iron Floor Servers Enamelware Arabia~finel~kaj Franck Enamel Bowl "anthriscus Cerefolium"~finland3 Mid Century Finel Arabia Mushroom Enamel Bowls 1 Large 2 Small Made In FinlandVintage Enamelware Tea Kettle Pot Psychedelic Mid-century Modern Coffee EnamelMid Century Modern Cathrineholm Norway 8" Cobalt Blue & White Striped BowlVintage Le Creuset France 30 12" Yellow Enameled Pan Cast Iron SkilletAntique Enamelware Milk Can Pitcher ~ Vtg Primitive Tuscan Farmhouse Decor 5298Vintage Enamelware Kitchen Canister ~ Primitive Tuscan Farmhouse Decor 5290Vintage French Enamelware Utensil Rack White Enamel With Blue Trim Rose MotifVintage Cathrinholm Enamelware Bowl 5 1/2" White W/avocado Green Lotus LeavesVintage White Enamel Porcelain French Drip Coffee Pot Complete, Used Well Loved Vtg Dansk Designs Ihq Enamel Sauce Pan Pot BlueLe Creuset Small Frying Pan #20 With 2 Spouts Cast Iron Enamel BlueAntique Graniteware Enamelware Large Blue Swirl 13 3/4" Bowl With Black Trim NrAntique Graniteware Coffee Pot Tea Pot Enamelware Blue Rare!Vintage Blue And White Granite Ware Or Enamel Ware Belgique Utensil Rack & LadleRare Cathrineholm Enamelware Saturn Bowl White And BlackAntique Enamelware Milk Can Pitcher ~ Vtg Primitive Tuscan Farmhouse Decor 5283Emalia Olkusz 1907 Enamel Enamelware Coffee Pot Polka DotVintage White Enamel Pitcher With Black Lip & Handle Trim/ Original Paper Label1930s Swedish Ker White W/blue Rim & Black Handle Enamelware Pitcher 17cm4 Vintage Amber Murano Glass W/heavy Gilt & Enamel Flowers BowlsAntique Vintage Enamelware Graniteware Coffee Pot White Red Trim Lid 6 CupVintage Descoware Belgium "maple Leaves" Covered Dutch Oven Pot 3 QuartsKaj Franck Finel Arabia Blue Clover Enamel Bowl Mid Century Modern ScandanavianVintage Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Baking Casserole Dish Red Orange OmbréVintage 7" Asian Jade, Paperwhite Narcissus Flowers In Cloisonné Enamel Vase PotAntique Enamelware Double Handle Wash Basin ~ Primitive Tuscan Farmhouse 5282White Farmhouse Enamelware Water Pitcher Black Enamel Handle & RimCopco Denmark Michael Lax Design 9 3/4" SautÉ Skillet Yellow Enamel Cast Iron Antique Red Enamelware Milk Can - Vintage Primitive Farmhouse Décor 5314