English Pink Lustreware

Karen Parr-Moody


Lustreware, a pottery or porcelain that has been given a metallic glaze, was wildly popular in 19th-century England. Its glamorous iridescence and sweet palette of pinks continues to make it sought by collectors of today.


The late 1700s and early 1800s represented the glory era of English tableware. At this time, mass-produced transferware had been perfected, and it stoked a lust for decorative dining accoutrements of all kinds. It was during this period that Wedgwood's lustreware was developed, creating an explosion in production in England and Wales.


The metallic sheen that gives lustreware its iridescence is produced by a combination of metallic oxides and a glaze finish. The process wasn’t actually new to England. It dates back to Egypt during the 10th through 12th centuries. In Spain, examples go back to the 14th century, and there were such wares in 16th-century Italy.


These shimmering ceramics come in a spectrum of gold, copper, silver, and a broad range of pinks and purples. In the United States, pink lustreware is a popular color among collectors.


At GasLamp, Booth B-200 has a fabulous collection of English pink lustreware. In the photo, above right, this charming cup and saucer set shows the beauty of lustreware’s color schemes, along with its cheery motifs. The cup and saucer is beautifully detailed, with its candy-cotton pink color trimmed with an ebullient floral pattern in shiny copper ($45).


It isn’t just the sheen of English pink lustreware that makes collectors swoon. It’s the association with elegance. In the early 1800s, large quantities of pink lustreware were exported to the American market. At tea parties in this relatively new nation, a bevy of hoop-skirted ladies served their society friends with the help of English pink lustreware. This three-tiered dessert stand, shown in a photo detail above left, would have been the star of the party (from the author’s collection; purchased from GasLamp’s Booth B-200).


Every charming house needs some beautiful souvenir plates. This one, in the photo at right, is a square lustreware plate made in England by Lancasters in Hanley during the 1940s ($45). It features a scene from a pub, The Jolly Drover, which is designed in the Tudor style.


And here is beautiful little lustreware bowl from the 1870s and cup (photo, left; bowl is $49, cup is $25). This relatively simple bowls gets a facelift with the shimmering lustreware finish and the cup is decorated in a typical pink splash luster. This type of splash treatment is associated with potters in the northeast regions of England, including Newcastle on Tyne and Sunderland, according to John Howard, a specialty antique dealer in England that specializes in pottery. Another beautiful item is this lustreware dinner plate, with its swirling vines and flowers, seen in the photo at right ($29).


Collecting English pink lustreware is wonderful fun. The ware is gloriously romantic, and is also a great reminder of when women took great pride in setting their tables. Fortunately, not all of it is squirreled away in private collections, as evidenced by the lovely collection at Booth B-200.












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