The amazing vibrant colors and spectacular graphic designs give antique French enamelware a signature look prized by collectors and designers alike, and add French country flair to any home.
Originally used in European and American households in the late 1800s and early 1900s, these commonplace, utilitarian pieces are charming reminders of a time when even humble household items were beautifully made.
Most of the enamelware antiques sought after by collectors today were manufactured between the late 1800s and 1940. Roses (especially hand‐painted rose garlands), pansies, gilded accents and soft pastel hues of pink, blue and aqua make the hearts of collectors beat faster. One standalone piece of enamelware holding a bouquet of romantic roses can add great flair to a dining room table, but one just doesn’t seem to be enough, and a collection is born!
WHAT IS ENAMELWARE?
During the 19th century, painted utilitarian steel or tinware became known as French enamelware due to its popularity in France, although it was produced throughout Europe, with large amounts manufactured in Austria, Germany, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. Most collectors prefer French enamelware because of the quality and designs.
Enamelware was made by fusing powdered glass to steel items in a kiln, creating a durable, glass‐like finish that kept the metal from rusting. Several coats of enamel were required to produce a quality piece that could be used in kitchens and bathing areas without rusting. Talented artists created the botanical and graphic designs on many of the French pieces, and each piece was an original work of art.
TYPES OF ENAMELWARE PIECES
Enameled heirlooms from the past include everything used in Victorian and Edwardian kitchens for preparing meals, including pots, canister sets, salt holders, coffee pots, pails, utensil racks with matching utensils and more. Teapots, sugar and creamer sets, soda and sand sets, body pitchers (used to carry enough water for a bath before indoor plumbing existed) and pitcher and bowl sets for each bedroom were all beautifully colored and often decorated with hand‐painted floral designs.