Collecting Antique French Ironstone and Using It

 You’ve seen these plates before in my table settings and they are a special way to weave some French country vibe into my home. Not only that, but I have had a long standing love for BLUE and WHITE, so why not mix some of that into my tablescapes.
 French terre de fer blue and white plates
These plates are collectibles that I’ll likely never part with. BUT…YOU CAN SHOP THE POST at the bottom of this page!
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”.
french ironstone backstamp

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.

tablesetting with french ironstone

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.

french faience blue and white dinner plate

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.

french country cottage tablesetting with flowers
I have another special set of TERRE DE FER (or faïance) in a lavender color that is even more rare than the blue and bring these out to use quite often in the spring. These plates are all circa 1880-1920.
beautiful french limoges tablesetting
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  POTTERY BARN (just $47 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:-)
antique purple dinner plates

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french country dining shabbyfufu

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  1. I didn’t realize that French ironstone is usually patterned. Oh, gosh, this may be another thing I will want to look out for and collect. 🙂

  2. these are so beautiful!! I always get so inspired from your tablescapes too, Janet!!

  3. Living in Western North Carolina, I’m not sure I’ve seen French Ironstone. Do you usually locate it at flea markets, estate sales or where?

    1. I have been to many yard and estate sales, flea markets…etc over the years and have never seen it in the U.S. I got these from France and have linked some sources on the post to shop.

  4. I just recently discovered these old French dishes. As we live in Germany for a few years, I started going to France to look for them and I’m in love! We are actually about 35 miles from Sarreguemine and I have been able to find quite a few of those dishes at flea markets and estate sales.

  5. Janet, I didn’t see the link you mentioned to find the French Ironstone, could you send it to me? Thanks

    1. Teresa Snipes says:

      I didn’t see any links either. Janet said they would be at the bottom.

      1. Teresa, I took the link out because everything was sold out. I guess check on ebay or Etsy

    2. Whoops…I took the link out Sandi because all of the French ironstone was sold out! Look on Etsy!

  6. I love ironstone but I have never seen the colors, which are beautiful and now I need to find some. Can you send the link, I didn’t see it in the post. Thank you.

    1. A bit hard to find Mary! I deleted the link because everything was sold out, but check on eBay or Esty.

  7. Thanks for educating us on French Ironstone, beautiful patters. I reconize the Haviland plate you show okay, have quite a lot of Haviland in different pattes. I need to use it more!

    1. Hello from California:)
      Janet I simply love your posts and look so forward to them! Over the years I’ve subscribed to various sites and am down to only yours and one other. Every single time you have given me so much information and ideas ~ just lovely! So thank you and God’s blessings to you!

      1. Carolyn…I’m blushing over here, you made my day! xoxo, Janet

    2. I enjoy using these plates…glad that you have some too!

  8. Thank You for the information good to know