The Hunt for Lead-Free Vintage-Style Dishes

To avoid lead in dishes, look for newly manufactured dishes with vintage style like this creamer from Bennington Potters.
To avoid lead in dishes, look for newly manufactured dishes with vintage style like this creamer from Bennington Potters.

I woke up this morning, ready to write a post for you all about vintage stoneware tea sets.  The post was going to be a Bohemian tea party dream come true.

As I gathered up pictures of rad pieces to share with you, I started to feel uneasy.  Having grown up around vintage and antique stuff, I know to avoid heavy use of vintage dishes, especially with acidic food and drinks, such as coffee and tea.

Why?

Well, it wasn’t until 1978 that lead was banned in things like paint, kids toys and…yes…even dishes and cookware.  And when dishes with lead in them contain an acidic substance, the lead leaches into the food or drink more readily.

Quite literally, nearly everything in our home is vintage, except for our dinnerware, coffee mugs, and stuff.  I have metal allergies and I know firsthand that metals are not something you should mess with.

So, back to this post I was trying to write for you.  As I was gathering photos of groovy floral stoneware teapots, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was wrong to share dishes with you that I wouldn’t use on my own family’s table.

My research quickly switched from the realm of vintage tea sets to an attempt to find some lead-free vintage-style dishes.

(If you are into modern-looking stuff, you have quite a few options.  Here in this house though, we dig old things…or at least things that have a vintage charm.)

Through my research, I was super happy to learn that our Fiestaware dishes are some of the best dishes to own these days.  The set is made in the USA, which, as it turns out, is one of the most important things to look for when searching for safe dinnerware.  Other countries don’t have the strict guidelines that we have in America.

(Please be aware though, that vintage Fiestaware dishes contain lead.  You have to buy the new stuff.)

Just like Fiestaware, it appears there are other pottery dinnerware companies who have been around for a long time and who now adhere to the strict standards for lead content.

 

Russel Wright Mid-century Style Teapot in Seafoam.
Russel Wright Mid-century Style Teapot in Seafoam.

Russel Wright
One of the most exciting moments on this hunt for lead-free dishes came when I found that Russel Wright pottery is still in business and making their signature teapot and other curvy, Mid-century style dishes.  Growing up with an antique dealer for a mother, there were certain things that were super exciting to find.  A Russel Wright teapot was one of those things.  There is something about the curves of the pottery that remind one of a sexy vintage car or a genie lamp.  Russel Wright offers a whole line of dinnerware and serving ware in gorgeous colors and all lead-free!

Bauer Turquoise Mixing Bowl in their traditional ring design.
Bauer Turquoise Mixing Bowl in their traditional ring design.

Bauer Pottery
Another happy moment came for this vintage-loving gal when I realized that Bauer Pottery is still in production.  In fact, the same company manufactures both Bauer and Russel Wright in Southern California.  You can even visit their showroom if you live in the area!  New Bauer Pottery still comes in all of the gorgeous vintage colors and their beloved ring design.  They have serving ware, dinnerware, tea sets, and pretty much anything you might need for a vintage-style dinner party.

Large Cup and Saucer Set from Bennington Potters.
Large Cup and Saucer Set from Bennington Potters.

Bennington Potters
It was a pleasant surprise to happen across Bennington Potters.  Each piece of pottery is thoughtfully formed with beauty and usefulness in mind.  And that matte, turquoise glaze!  Phew.  It’s beautiful.  If you are someone who appreciates the ritual of tea service, be sure to check out their pottery tea set.  All pieces are lead-free.  You can even tour the pottery works where the magic happens.

New Fiestaware is lead-free and made in the USA. Luckily for us, it has retained it's vintage style!
New Fiestaware is lead-free and made in the USA.

Fiestaware Dinnerware
The Fiestaware line is manufactured by Homer Laughlin China Co. in Newell, West Virginia at the same plant where it was designed 75 years ago!  Although vintage Fiestaware is not recommended due to lead content, the company has really upped their game with the manufacture of modern, lead-free, vintage-style dinnerware.  The best part about Fiestaware is that it still comes in wonderful colors that are easily mixed and matched with the company’s Colorama tool.

Handcrafted pottery mug by Pitch Pine Pottery with a lead-free glaze.
Handcrafted pottery mug by Pitch Pine Pottery with a lead-free glaze.

Pitch Pine Pottery
If you are like me and love to sip tea from a unique, handcrafted mug, Pitch Pine Pottery is the best.  Potter Tara-Sinead is the main gal behind the shop.  Her pieces are inspired by nature and Art Nouveau design.  All pottery pieces in the shop are made of lead-free, food safe materials.

(Read an interview with Tara-Sinead of Pitch Pine Pottery here on Different Drum.)

 

 

Staub cookware is guaranteed to be lead free.
Staub cookware is guaranteed to be lead-free.

Staub
In addition to looking for lead-free, vintage-style dinnerware, I also went on the hunt for some kitchen cookware that meets the same standard.  Staub cookware and bakeware looks great in a vintage kitchen.  Staub guarantees its products to be lead-free.  It has also received some pretty great reviews from chefs.

List of dinnerware made in America
On my quest to bring you this list of vintage-style, food-safe dinner and serving ware, I discovered a very useful list of pottery companies who manufacture their wares in the USA.  Because the United States has strict standards for lead content, many of the companies listed on this site are lead-free.

The research I put into compiling this list really opened my eyes to how many new lead-free dinnerware options there are for a vintage gal like me.  I hope this list is helpful for you too!

Explore Vintage Finds here on Different Drum!

♥ All photos are owned by the artist or shop to which they link.  Please click on a photo and you will be magically transported to its home on the web. ♥

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