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 am always on the lookout for French terre de fer and it’s not inexpensive…since these pieces are true antiques and getting hard to find! I’ve sourced some at the bottom of this post.
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