Long before Tupperware, there was Yellowware.
Developed in Scotland and England in the 1600’s, it came to the United States in the mid-1800’s. Made in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio because of an abundance of uniquely colored clay and low iron content needed to make it. The clay needed to have a lower iron content so it could be baked at high temperatures which made the pieces extremely durable for constant use in the kitchen.
Back when I first started collecting I fell in love with Yellowware. I couldn’t afford it but admired it from afar. At the time antiques were at their peak of prices and Yellowware was no different. Pristine pieces were astronomically priced. Pieces at auction with small chips routinely sold for close to $1000. Even today rare pieces in online auctions are known to fetch between $600 to $800 or higher if a collector needs it to complete a collection.
The tricky thing to remember about Yellowware is it doesn’t need to be yellow. What we traditionally think of Yellowware is its color which can vary from a yellow-brown to a bright French’s Mustard Yellow. The glaze was clear which highlighted the varying color of the clay. Later, colored glazes were used to create beautiful greens and blues, along with white.
In the photo you will see my collection of Yellowware. I even had a hutch built to display it. The hutch is a deep barn wood red to accent the yellow of the bowls. My collection has taken over a decade to put together and I’m still working on it. Are all the pieces perfect? Nope, (lots of flea bites), but if I find a better one I upgrade. Are they originals? Nope, I have some reproductions that were priced too good to be true and I didn’t do my homework. Again I upgrade and always try to learn from my mistakes. Do I use them? Yes, line them with a cloth napkin or tea towel and they make a great fruit bowl centerpiece. Dry, non acidic foods like chips, pretzels or crackers work perfect. I have a newer one with a food safe glaze that holds about 3 pounds of pasta salad.
Yellowware, be it yellow, white, blue or green is a wonderful accent for farmhouse decorating style. All it takes is one piece to fall in love with this kitchen workhorse of the past.