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Antiques Considered - December 18, 2013

A family in Lancaster County has asked about their ironstone tureen. It has its original plateau and ladle, and is in excellent condition except for a small chip on the lid and some discoloration on the base. They are interested in selling it, and would like to know how to price it, given the slight chip. The piece is unmarked as to the factory that made it.


Ironstone, or in this case what sometimes is called ‘’White Ironstone”, is not as popular as it was a generation ago. The name refers to a type of china first developed in England by the Mason’s Company, which patented it in 1813. Other companies followed their example, and by the 1840s English ironstone was in great demand in France and in America. For the American market the English manufacturers started introducing agrarian motifs in their designs, thus giving rise the term “farmer’s china.”

This set is of good quality, but the plain white design lessens its marketability. The slight chip definitely affects its value, but probably is not worth having restored. As to the plateau’s discoloration, submersing it in industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide should bring it back to pure white. Having the original ladle is a significant addition to the overall value.

With the small chip, the tureen is worth $50, assuming the discoloration can be corrected. If a prospective buyer shows interest, and is concerned about the chip, he or she can take the lid to McHugh’s Restorations on West Patterson Avenue in Richmond where it can be repaired.

At one point Colonial Beach was the “white ironstone capital of the world” given the large number of Victorian hotels that were stocked with tureens such as this one, platters, and table services, along with bowl-and-pitcher sets in the rooms. I can recall auctions at some of the hotels prior to their demolition, where the supply was so extensive that the prices reached were quite low.

 

Happy Antiquing!           

Henry Lane Hull
Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, VA 22579
Cell:  804.580.0514
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www.commonwealthantiques.com

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