Graniteware describes enameled metal coffee pots, colanders, salt-and-pepper shakers, cake molds, muffin pans, and skillets produced throughout the Midwestern and Eastern United States from the 1870s until the end of World War II. Patented in 1848 by New York inventor Charles Stumer, graniteware was also known as agateware, enameled ware, and speckleware. Among the many manufacturers of graniteware was the St. Louis Stamping Company, which marketed a line of Granite Iron Ware products for the kitchen.

St. Louis Stamping was one of the earliest producers of graniteware, as was Lalance and Grosjean, which won the Grand Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878 for its blue and white pieces. Soon, Lalance and Grosjean was producing graniteware for Sears, Roebuck and Company, which the famous catalog company marketed as Peerless Gray Ware. Other early graniteware producers included Bellaire Stamping Company and Vollrath.

Close cousins of graniteware are those pieces whose grays and other colors were mottled or marbled. Colors appeared to blend into each other, or swirl and curlicue separately to create random, eye-catching patterns and effects. Today, mottled enamelware is a favorite of kitchen collectors, but it is usually treated as a separate category from graniteware.

One of the many benefits of graniteware was its low cost—Sears sold a set of 24 pieces for just $4.37. Because of its light weight, graniteware was much easier to handle than comparable cast-iron pieces, and its smooth surface made it easy to clean (white graniteware was popular in nurseries and doctor’s offices). As for pieces that resembled the outside of a speckled robin’s egg, they were simply cheerful and fun to use.

Unfortunately, graniteware was prone to cracking, which would expose the metal underneath and cause it to rust clear through. This tendency was so widespread that a company called Mendets sold patch kits containing a tool that was sharp on one end to ream out the hole, with a wrench on the other to tighten down the patch.

For a while, consumers were scared away from graniteware due to claims of antimony, lead, and arsenic in the enamel, a claim made most prominently by Lalance and Grosjean against its competitors. But in the 1930s, a new, more pressing threat would prove the end of graniteware’s popularity—aluminum.

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    

Spectacular Rare American Gray Graniteware Double Pocket Match HolderVintage Graniteware Emerald Ware Green And White Swirl Pitcher Enamelware NiceVtg/antq Swedish/scandinavian Graniteware/enamelware Cream/green Salt Box W/lidPrimitive Antique Grey Graniteware Enamelware Colander Straining Bowl DishRare! Small Vintage Gray Graniteware Dish Planter Dish Agate Graniteware-enamelware - Child's Enamel Tea SetAntique Graniteware Coffee Pot Boiler Enamelware Colbalt Blue Swirl Barn Fresh Beautiful Antique Graniteware Pitcher In Beautiful Condition...Vintage Enamel / Granite Ware Oval Basin, White,cream & Green TrinVtg Enamelware Graniteware Brick Red Pitcher Jug Poland Black Trim Granite Ware 9-piece Enamel-on-steel Canning KitAntique Blue Swirl Graniteware Enamelware Gathering Pail W/ Spout & Wood HandleAntique Graniteware Coffee Pot Boiler Enamelware Colbalt Blue Swirl Barn FreshRed White Swirl Enamel Ware Granite Ware Candle Holder W/ Finger LoopVtg Red & White Graniteware/spatterware Strainer Colander - Handles & FootedAntique Child's Pail Berry Bucket Enamelware Bucket & Granite Lid GranitewareAntique Gray Granite Ware Bucket With Handle Patent Dec 3rd 1912Old Blue Granitewear Large 3 Handle Coffee Pot Kettle.3 Gallon Campfire,vase.Antique Blue Enamelware Graniteware PitcherHuge Antique Graniteware Cobalt Blue White Swirl Wash Tub Vintage Enamel WareOne Quart Cream Or Milk Can, Gray Graniteware Porcelain (ps-119) 8 Graniteware Pinch/prep Measuring Dishes Or Dessert Dishes- Navy - 4-1/4"x1"Antique Agate Granite Graniteware Coffee Pot Kettle1 Brown Speckled Enamelware Graniteware 10 ¼” X 7 ¼” Rectangular Baking PanAntique Vintage Gray Enamel Graniteware Tray Porcelain Steampunk Garden ArtLittle Graniteware Milk Creamer Pail Early 1900s Early Dairly AntiqueOld Graniteware Cup-beatty Bros. Paper Label-fergus, Ontario?-tractors, Etc.-nrVintage Porcelain White Enamel Baby Bath Tub Farm Wash Basin 25"Vintage Antique Graniteware Berry Bucket Pail Wood Handle Blue/white2 Vtg Blue Enamelware Graniteware Speckled Camping 10" Plates Dishes SkilletBlue Granite Ware Blue & White Swirled Bowl Very Colorful! Basket Case Small 1 Qt. Squatty Gray Graniteware Pitcher - Many Chips And HolesGraniteware - Identification & Value Guide - 1980 - Collector Book