These plates are collectibles that I’ll likely never part with. My love goes deep and they are treasured and cherished more than regular old ironstone plates might be. French ironstone such as these plates are from the 19th century, and are known as terre de fer or literally translated “iron earth”.
Even the back stamps are incredible and will tell you where they came from in France and the factory’s name. In this backstamp close-up shot you can see that there is glaze crazing. I have seen it written that you shouldn’t use antique ironstone to eat from in modern times, as they lead in the clay composition that that may have seeped in over time and wear. Probably true…I was a potter in a former life and feel comfortable in believing so.
That being said, I don’t use them to eat from in our daily lives and will remove and use the lead free modern underplate.
Unlike the earlier English ironstone that was developed in the mid 19th century by the Staffordshire potters in England, French ironstone is generally decorated in a pattern…such as flowers or birds. The English ironstone was developed as a less expensive and every day alternative to porcelain and generally left as white.
I would buy these in a heartbeat if I didn’t have my blue and white French dishes. They are reproduction, but I think fabulous!
I am always on the lookout for French terre de fer and it’s not inexpensive…since these pieces are true antiques. I’ve been doing some on-line shopping and have a few affiliate links for your convenience here. They are all sellers in France but they ship worldwide.
I’d much prefer vintage and antique than new, but love the look of mixing old IRONSTONE plates with those that are new. The juxtaposition of fine French Limoges patterns with delicate roses alongside my everyday dishes from (aff link>) POTTERY BARN (just $59 for twelve) and exquisite stemware make me happy. And there always have to be beautiful flowers on my table, even when there’s nothing special planned any time soon:-)
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