Hi there–hope your week is off to a great start! 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.
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