What’s Hot?!! Vintage & Antique Ironstone
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What’s selling?” or “What’s hot right now?” So today I want to share an experiment I recently ran.
Ten weeks ago I began listing a large amount of vintage and antique ironstone, along with vintage restaurant ware, on Etsy to see how well it would sell.
Because I’m currently developing a course about ironstone, I wanted to learn where it sells for the highest prices. So far I’ve tried selling it from my antique booth and on Etsy.
For a long time I wasn’t really selling ironstone because I collect it myself, so I used to keep almost every piece I bought(!). You can see many pieces from my collection in this article about collecting vintage and antique ironstone.
Now that my cupboard is FULL, it’s time to start selling some of the pieces I’ve acquired that don’t quite fit, LOL. Some of the pieces needed a little TLC, so I’ve also been putting the cleaning and whitening recommendations from this article into practice.
I’m not too picky about the condition of what I collect personally, but if I decide to sell something that has some browning or gray marks, then I want to try to clean it up. Exceptions would be for pieces that are evenly (and attractively) browned throughout. (You’ll see an example below.)
Selling Ironstone in an Antique Booth
Over the years I have had good success selling large, high quality English and American serving pieces in excellent condition from my antique booth. Think pitchers, platters with molded decoration, soup tureens, mixing bowls, and vegetable dishes. Conversely, I have had little success selling dinner plates, plain oval platters, and small canisters.
This is good news because I would much rather sell large, valuable ironstone from my booth than on Etsy or eBay, which would require extreme care when shipping it, and run the risk of breakage.
This antique pitcher by the Thomas Hughes pottery, an English company, serves as a good example of the type of ironstone that sells well from my booth. It fetched $70 a couple of years ago, not surprising given its simple beauty and perfect condition.
What Ironstone Pieces Should You Sell on Etsy
Based on my several week experiment, here are the sorts of ironstone pieces that are selling well right now on Etsy:
- Smaller pieces (to avoid high shipping costs & the risk of breakage)
- Vintage and antique English ironstone (usually marked)
- Vintage and antique American ironstone (often unmarked)
- Vintage and newer restaurant ware (often marked)
- Highly crazed and browned pieces
Let’s take a look at the specific pieces that have sold over the past ten weeks.
Marked Antique English Ironstone
An antique [shaving] mug signed “Burgess Co. Royal China” in blue sold for $21.99. It dates to about 1900 and stands 3 3/8″ high.
Unmarked Antique American Ironstone
An unmarked, fan-shaped ironstone vase (6.5″ high), likely American, sold for $24.99.
This 5″ piece is atypical of most ironstone in that it has an applied handle, as a piece of stoneware would. And in fact the piece may have been thrown on a wheel rather than molded. It sold for $31.99.
Here’s the evenly browned relish dish (8″ long) that I mentioned earlier. It didn’t last long in my shop, selling quickly for $27.99.
Unmarked Vintage American Ironstone
A set of four 3″ diameter butter pats (unmarked) sold for $31.99.
Is Restaurant Ware “Ironstone”?
Why do I include restaurant ware in an article about ironstone? I have a few reasons.
- It fits in nicely with ironstone collections. Though it’s less blue than older ironstone, it’s whiter than newer ironstone, which tends to appear cream-colored.
- Many ironstone manufacturers, like Homer Laughlin, transitioned into restaurant ware from producing ironstone, using some of the same techniques.
- Both are forms of vitreous china, i.e., coated with enamel glaze that becomes almost like glass after it’s fired in a kiln.
- I LOVE it! It’s slightly glossier than some ironstone, tends to be a bit heavier, and is sturdier, and therefore less likely to chip.
In my Etsy listings I make sure to refer to these pieces as “ironstone style” or “ironstone compatible” since they are not technically “ironstone.” I think of restaurant ware as the younger sibling of ironstone, born in the middle of the 20th century.
Marked & Unmarked Restaurant Ware
A pair of vintage French porcelain candlesticks (6 1/2″ high), marked “APILCO Porcelain, France” sold for $32.99. APILCO is a high end French brand that has been in business since 1939, producing quality dinnerware for both the home and restaurants.
This pair of 3 1/4″ “APILCO” coeur a la creme (a French dessert made with cheese that needs to drain) sold for $19.19 (20% off).
An 6 3/4″ high, vintage restaurant ware pitcher (unmarked) sold for $24.99
A set of six 3 3/4″ diameter creme brule ramekins sold for $15.99 (reflects 20% off). Marked “HIC, Oven to Table Porcelain.” HIC refers to “Harold Import Co.” which has been in business in the U.S. since 1957.
Ironstone & Ironstone Style Ceramics Available in My Etsy Shop
A white porcelain trinket dish in the shape of a heart is for sale here. [I include it under “ironstone-style” because its glossy white surface fits in nicely with ironstone collections. Many collectors buy the look rather than the name.]
This majolica set of salt and pepper shakers made in England is available here. [I include it under ironstone style for the same reasons stated above.]
An antique [shaving] mug signed “HALL,” an American pottery is available here. UPDATE: Sold on Etsy for $21.99 on June 15, 2021.
An unsigned (likely American) relish dish is also available here.
And finally–one of my absolute favorite recent finds: an antique relish dish (likely American) decorated with the name of a Connecticut establishment, Phelps Tavern, 1782 & 1911. You’ll find it for sale here. UPDATE: Sold on Etsy for $31.99 on June 15, 2021.
If you’re an antique seller like me, I hope this article has given you some useful insights into what’s “hot” right now in the antiques market. I’d be thrilled to hear in the comments if you’ve had a similar experience, with ironstone or any other category of collectible.
Other articles you might be interested in:
Thanks for stopping by!
If you enjoyed this post, subscribe today
and get a FREE copy of my eBook:
Bye for now,
Pin for later!
Recently did well on an ironstone s&p set, and have a creamer thats in 4 carts! Lol I’m listing more, but lets hope we dont flood the market right?
Congrats on your sale Brittany! With millions of buyers out there, I hope we don’t have to worry about flooding the market just yet 🙂
What a wonderful lot of information on this topic you have included Diana. Thanks again for your generous sharing of the things you have learned. What fun you have had over the years; what friends you have met along the way!
That’s the way I feel about the Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists I have met and worked with for over 20 years now. It is a great feeling to associate with these great humans!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this information about this subject today. Now I am going to go find more price guides in the member library…
I’m so glad you enjoyed the article Linda–writing about vintage and antiques is one of my favorite things to do! I’m glad, too, that you’re getting some benefit out of my Member Library 🙂 🙂
Wow! What great selling prices! Nothing like that in Maine! You have taught me to keep me eyes open when yard saling or thrifting! I’m glad you collect Ironstone; leaves the milk glass for me! Wouldn’t it be a dull world (and wouldn’t prices be skyhigh!) if we all collected the same things!
Those high selling prices on Etsy were why I wanted to share the info with everyone. Like you, I would never get anywhere near those prices from my antique booth!
Yes, it would be a very dull world if we all collected the same antiques, LOL. I promise to stick with my ironstone!
Fascinating, especially because I have a booth in an antique mall on the Oregon coast, and don’t see a lot of ironstone. When I do, it goes for dirt cheap in the mall. Maybe it’s a regional preference. Thinking I might want to look for some pieces and try it on Etsy.
I would absolutely give it a try Stacy! I think you’ll be surprised at the results 🙂
Oh, your article is like a balm on my soul because vintage products are my passion. I have an opinion that they have a unique wonderful atmosphere that fills people with special feelings. Vintage and antique are of a special value to our world, and I really like the goods mentioned in your article because this dishware looks not only aesthetic, but looks absolutely unusual and arouses the desire to purchase it.
I really like the color scheme because it’s so tender. I can say that the white ceramic trinket in the shape of a heart conquered my soul and it is not surprising that people buy this good mostly due to its appearance because it looks so gorgeous and original.
I think that you can find different uses for it. I can say that your article is so helpful for any person who is engaged in the antique business because they can not only learn a huge amount of valuable information, but be inspired by all the goods shown there, like I was.
There really is something very special about ironstone, isn’t there Marina? I’m so glad you enjoyed the article and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this beautiful collectible!
This is so helpful and interesting! I’ve also found that ironstone sells faster than anything else right now. I’ve lucked out on a few great finds including an ironstone toast holder (absolutely precious) and lots of creamers, plates, and platters. Thanks for sharing this info!
You’re welcome Rachael! I’m so glad you found the article helpful. I’ve never come across an ironstone toast holder–sounds very cool. Thanks for confirming what I’ve been finding about ironstone being hot right now 🙂
Oooo I just discovered you. I so would have bought that ladle!
I was wondering if you have posted on how to identify ironstone? I have been collecting ironstone transferware for ages and have just ventured into white ironstone. But if it is unmarked I am often unable to tell if it is ironstone or some other ceramic piece. I feel so inadequate since my house is full of transferware and I still can’t identify unmarked whites. (I can spot transferware on sight though, but they are always marked.)
I also just found a perfect condition Red Cliff Soup Tureen, no ladle or under plate for $3 at Goodwill!!! Score. And I’ve spent hours on google to find it’s value but cannot find another like it. Some come close but no match to be found. Are there sources that help with this?
I know I am just bugging you for info but I love this site and will definitely be following your sale sites with interest.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site Rebecca! Here’s an article on collecting ironstone that should answer some of your questions: https://adirondackgirlatheart.com/my-vintage-ironstone-collection/ You did great with your Red Cliff purchase! Even though most Red Cliff dates to the 1970’s, it’s so well made that prices are often comparable to older pieces. I’d check ebay and Etsy to get an idea what they’re selling/being offered for.
I am trying to subsribe below – it keeps telling me submission failed. 🤷♀️
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for letting me know. I just checked the link and it seems to be working fine. Sometimes when forms don’t work online, we need to clear our browsing history and then they work for us.