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 Cathrineholm Red Enamel Miniature Lotus Bowl Mid CenturyLovely, Vintage, Catherineholm, Stacking Lotus Bowls!Cambray Ware Pot With Enamel For Liberty & Co, LondonCathrineholm Enamelware Yellow Lotus 11 Inch Bowl W/ Logo Very Good ConditionVtg Cathrineholm Norway Enamel Bowl Lotus Cobalt Blue 11" Salad Fruit MidcenturyVtg Cathrineholm Norway Enamel Bowl Lotus Cobalt Blue 9 1/2" Mixing Serving Vtg Dansk Kobenstyle Turquoise Enamel Jens Quistgaard 7" Pitcher DenmarkKrenit Mid Century 5-piece Enamel Bowl Set Orange & Black 10" & 5" Dia., DenmarkVintage Trio Cathrineholm Yellow And Blue And Green Enamelware Lotus BowlsVtg Mid-century Cathrineholm Norway White On Blue Lotus Enamel Tea KettleVintage Arabia Of Finland Enamel Heart Bowl Large 8 1/4" Mcm Kaj FranckVintage Set Of 3 Rare Catherineholm Orange Enamel Ware Small Kitchen Bowls Rare Two Cathrineholm Mid Century Modern Enameled Norway Bowls Orange StripesMid Century Cathrineholm Brown And Turquoise Lotus Bowls 8"Cathrineholm Norway Lotus Minty Enamel Bowl Rare Blue Variation Color NrVtg Catherine Holm Lotus Butter Pot Pan Kobenstyle Mid CenturyCathrineholm Enamelware Yellow Lotus 5 1/2" Inch Bowl Mid-centuryVtg Mid Century Catherine Holm Lotus 7-9/16" Bowl Flame Orange White Petals Xlt!Vtg Mid Century Catherine Holm Lotus 5-1/2" Bowl Flame Orange White Petals Xlt!Sweet Baby Cathrineholm Enameled Bowl Red & White Stripes, Grete Prytz KittelsenCatherineholm Lotus Enamel Bowl Yellow 5 1/2" Marked Norway NrCathrineholm Enamel Mid Century Modern Danish Blue PlateCatherineholm Vintage Yellow Lotus PanCathrineholm Green Lotus Two Handled Sauce Pan Pot Enamel NorwayVtg Mid Century Catherine Holm Lotus 10-1/2"plate Flame Orange White Petals Xlt!Vintage Black Le Creuset Cast Iron Enamel Pot 30 Baker Dutch Oven Round RoasterEdward Winter Vintage Mid-century Modern Enamel Copper Abstract Art Bowl DishLe Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 2 Quart Pumpkin Casserole, Lifetime Warranty Catherineholm Viking Blue Fondue Pot Set Mid Century Enamelware Made In NorwayVintage Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Oval Covered Casserole Baker Flame Orange Retro French Set 6 Red White Enamel Sauce Pan Set White Diamond Design Antique Child / Doll Enamelware Kitchen Dish Set Of 12 Gold Gilt Trim German YqzCathrineholm Green & White "saturn" Bowl 11" Grete Prytz Kittelsen Mcm NorwayCathrineholm Mid Century Modern Enameled Norway Lotus Bowl And Tray PlateVintage Catherineholm Orange With White Lotus Handled Sauce Pan With SpoutVtg Hallmark Pumpkin Enamelware Candy Pail Bucket Pot Tin Lid Halloween Antique Graniteware~enamelware~ Farm/kitchen Funnel~blue & White Swirl~as IsVintage Miniature Enamelware Toy Bail Handle Pot Antique Kitchen Tool CookwareMid Century Red And White Cathrineholm Lotus Enamelware PotCathrineholm Yellow Lotus Skillet / Pan 9" Mid Century Modern Enamelware NorwayVintage Mid Century Cathrineholm Norway Lotus Ice BucketVintage Japanese CloisonnRare L.l. Bean 6 Qt. Black, Red, White Spatterware Cast Iron Enamel Dutch OvenCathrineholm Bowl Lotus Print Kitchen Tea Towel Mid Century Catherine Holm 1960sAntique Enamel Lg Pitcher White W/ Black Trim Collectors Kitchen EnamelwareVintage Copco Denmark Michael Lax Almond Enamel Cast Iron Sauce Pan Pot 1 QuartVintage Le Creuset Cousances France Cast Iron & Enamel #33 Casserole NiceGreat Cuisinart 3.0 Red Oval Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pot With Lid Antique Child / Doll Enamelware Kitchen Dish Set Of 4 Gold Gilt Trim German Yqz Olive Green Lotus Cathrineholm Sauce Pot W/teak Handle C1960 No ReserveLe Creuset Cast Iron Cherry Red Heart Casserole, France Enamel Excellent 2 QuartVintage Cathrineholm Norway Enamel Lotus White On Green Cov Pot W Hdls ExcellentVintage Kaj Franck Hackman Enamel Cherry Bowl W/ Label - Arabia Finland DanishGorgeous Vintage Bovano Of Cheshire Enameled Copper Pink Iris Plants In BowlVintage Catherineholm Mid Century Norway Enamel Ware Kitchen Blue Lotus CrockRare 1957 Cathrineholm Norway Spoon Gold Medal Xi Triennale Milan Mid-centuryVintage Mid-century Catherine Holm Blue Lotus Ice Bucket Excellent ConditionCatherineholm Double Handled Covered Blue Pot With White LotusPottery Barn Kids Kitchen Enamel Pots Pans Bakeware Utensils Apron SetEnamelware - Vintage Set Of French Canisters