I love white dishes. I love the simplicity, the cleanliness, and the versatility. When I first got married, I had a floral, patterned set of dishes but when I started getting really into cooking and went to culinary school, I found out that food looks much better on white plates (this is why almost all restaurants serve their food on white dishes). Soon after that is when I started collecting white ironstone, so it just made sense to have everyday dishes that were white as well. I coordinate the vintage collectibles with the new purchases all the time, and what’s great is, everything works together! I even love the different whites. The vintage ironstone is everything from white all the way to antique cream but the different shades add texture and interest, I think. And I’m particularly fond of white dishes and ironstone in a white kitchen.
I first discovered antique cheese slabs when I saw them in a shelter magazine many years ago. For some time afterwards, I kept looking and looking in antique stores and at flea markets, but to no avail. I didn’t even know what they were called at the time. How naive I was! These antique dairy slabs are incredibly rare, and unbelievably expensive, with originals selling for literally thousands of dollars. Once I found out how rare they were, it all made sense. No wonder I never came across any! And if I had, I certainly would have been shocked to learn how valuable they were. Originally, they were used to display dairy products, “cheese” or “butter”, etc, in English groceries over a century ago. They have since grown in popularity, and of course, this has driven up the prices.
I’m not sure when my love affair with white ironstone started, but I do know that when I remodeled my kitchen four years ago, I had already started collecting and putting it aside for the new room. For those of you not familiar with ironstone, it is antique pottery originally made in the United Kingdom. It was developed in the 19th century by potters in Staffordshire, England as a cheaper, mass-produced alternative to porcelain. Originally made in transferware patterns, beginning in the 1840s, British potteries created white ironstone for the American market where undecorated tableware was popular.