Saturday, January 28, 2012

Photo with Yellow Ware Collection

A couple of my friends asked about the collection of bowls in the photo I used for my Nostalgia post, so here is a repost from 1997, with a little history.
Yellow ware is a piece of pottery made from a yellow
colored base clay that can fire to a warm butter color
or a spicy mustard.
American potters began making yellow ware, redware and stoneware items, from before the beginning of this country. Occasionally a piece can be found that dates before the Revolution, but most of these are now in museums. The potteries were all up and down the eastern seaboard of the original Colonies, for not only did they have to be near a source of clay, but a source of transportation too, and that meant water in those days; river or sea. As the country grew, potteries sprang up in Ohio and the Midwest where a system of river transport and roads were used to bring Yellow Ware to the population.

Yellow ware potters also made other wares depending on the clay types found in their areas, but no matter the "ware", they were the items needed for everyday use. Food storage came first, of course, in those days preservation was imperative. Then came the plates, cups, bowls, ladles, funnels, skimmers, rolling pins, colanders, etc. The utilitarian objects an ever increasing
population demanded.

Today, as we look at Yellow ware objects, it is easy to conclude that they are a plain item. And it must have seemed that way to the men who made them so long ago. Decorations began appearing on everyday things, like blue slip flowers on stoneware crocks, and Rockingham glaze on redware items. Yellow ware decoration was the most imaginative and intense of the decorations, all hand done. From one band of color around a bowl, to ornate geometric designs covering every inch of a piece, to depiction's of animals and flowers and pithy sayings in polychrome slip. The decorations were sponged, spattered, applied with putty, rags, or brushes, incised or drawn, in every color.

Yellow Ware lost favor slowly and was out of style by the 1930's in this country, as more modern materials and designs and decorations became popular. The advent of Depression Glass; cheaply made, mold decorated and mass marketed spelled the end for utilitarian items made from yellow clay.
The collector, today, can easily find with one or two bands of color in almost any antique store. The quantity of those available is tremendous, since the bowls were
made in the millions from a period from 1850 to 1930. Potteries like Hull, Bennington, Brush McCoy, and Weller, all made Yellow Ware objects.
Collecting Tips:
*Buy an unusual piece when you see it, even if condition
is only fair.
*Buy bowls and custard cups, which are very
plentiful, only in perfect condition.
Decorating Tips
*Display a collection wherever you have space. The
collection itself is a decorating tool. You don't have
to have twenty, 50, or a hundred examples displayed, t
o make a collection, besides, most of us don't have
that kind of room.
*A sponged yellow ware pitcher with flowers, next to a
matching bowl with fruit, is a nice collection for the
kitchen, or you can line some shelves with bowls,
pitchers casseroles, spice jars, and make
a fine display with a small collection as I have
done in the photo.


  1. Excellent article. Thanks for posting. Do you have any mocha decorated yellowware in your collection? They make for very interesting pieces. Sadly, I do not.

    Here is an article on mocha yellowware pieces.

    1. Hello, I have just one, a small piece from my Aunt's estate. It is especially loved; and you're right, they are lovely.