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Collecting Yellow Ware
Posted 1 January 2010 by Barb Lemme

This is Sign of the Whale's first blog! I thought a good place to begin might be to include some information on one of our collecting interests. My love of yellow ware began when my grandmother gave me "an old yellow bowl" that had belonged to her grandmother. I loved it because it was hers, but didn't really know what it was until years later. In fact, it was an early (i.e. circa 1850) banded bowl with wonderful deep color and a rim chip that had been there forever. It became the foundation of my collection. I've listed some basic facts about yellow ware below, in bullet format, along with a couple of wonderful reference books that I highly recommend. I'd be happy to answer any questions or expand on any of these points. Just shoot me an email.

Utilitarian earthenware pottery made in England and Scotland as well as in the U.S., primarily from New Jersey to Ohio

Transitional ware between redware and white wares--lighter and easier to handle than stoneware, less porous and fragile than redware

A clear alkaline glaze is applied to yellow clay base

Color varies from light buff to deep mustard yellow

Most early American yellow ware dates from about 1840 to the end of the 19th century--peak production in the 1860s-70s

90% of American yellow ware is unmarked

Still being produced (and reproduced) today

Characteristics of earlier versus later pieces include the rolled shape of the rim and foot

Many different forms: bowls most common; but also pitchers, nappies, mugs, pie plates, pepper shakers, master salts, mustard pots; colanders, rolling pins, washboards, miniatures, etc.

Decoration: plain, banded, seaweed (or mocha), Rockingham, molded

Collectors may focus on a particular form or type of decoration, or may prefer to assemble a diverse grouping

Criteria to consider when buying: age, form, condition, price


Gallo, John. (1985). Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Yellow Ware. Heritage Press: Richfield Springs, New York. A great handbook, still available, price guide obsolete. My favorite reference.

McAllister, Lisa, & John L. Michel. (1993, 2003). Collecting Yellow Ware: An Identification and Value Guide. Collector Books: Paducah, Kentucky. Great photos and descriptions of various forms, still available, values guide updated 2003. mcallisterinc.com


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