History of Enamelware

The enamelware in our shop is only possible because of the thousands of years of techniques and advancements that led it to where it is today.

Circa 1200 BC to the 18th Century

Enameling is steeped in history that begins around 3000 years ago in many parts of the world, including Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China and Ancient Egypt. It's first known uses were to create beautiful patterned jewelry. Enameling a variety of objects became more and more elaborate over time, including techniques that are household names to this day, such as cloisonne and Fabergé eggs.

19th and 20th Centuries

In the early 1800s amid the Industrial Revolution, more practical applications were discovered - namely, enameling pots and pans to create a nonstick surface ideal for baking and cooking. Enamelware first appeared in American stores and mail-order catalogs in the mid-1800s and grew to become a household staple for decades. Basic kitchen items such as biscuit cutters, baking tins, and ladles were stamped from thin sheets of iron, steel, or aluminum, then coated with enamel which was fused to the metal in a very hot oven. World War II created a great demand for scrap metal, so many enamelware pieces were repurposed. In the late 20th century and still today, these unassuming items are considered collectible antiques, and a single genuine piece in good condition can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Enamelware came in blue, red, purple, brown, green, and pink, plus gray and white. Patterns were as varied as the colors. Enamelware is lightweight compared to your average kitchenware, cleans easily and is less fragile than china, all of which added to its popularity.

Made by several manufacturers, enamelware was known by many names. Lalance and Grosjean coined Agate Iron Ware for one of its products; the St. Louis Stamping Co. marketed a line called Granite Iron Ware. Shortened to agateware and graniteware, these names caught on and came to be used interchangeably with generics such as porcelainware and speckleware.

Present Day

Technology has evolved, but the brands of enamelware you will find in our shop are largely made by the same methods as a century ago. Manufacturing remains a very hands-on process for the highest quality makers out there, and we are excited to bring those makers to you all under one roof.

 

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