Collecting antique lustreware

Designed to glisten under the glow of candlelight, antique and vintage lustreware is much sought after by collectors...

Collecting antique lustreware
Published: May 12th, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Although colloquially regarded as a poor man’s silver or gold, the alchemic appeal of antique lustreware has endured the test of time.

Advertisement

‘When looking at lustreware, you need to think about which type and era you’re interested in, as the scope for collecting is vast,’ explains Alison Snowdon, ceramics specialist at Fieldings Auctioneers.

While the earliest form of lustre dates to the 9th century, it was popularised by British 19th-century potteries around Staffordshire, Sunderland and Newcastle, including Spode and Wedgwood, where it swiftly became the height of fashion.

Desired thanks to its reflective quality in dim gas and candlelight, this lustreware was made by applying a thin, metallic glaze to pottery that turned a peachy pink during a second, low-temperature firing.

Collecting antique lustreware
This Wedgwood lemonade set for six sold for £1,200 at Woolley & Wallis in October 2016

Often referred to as ‘Sunderland Lustre’, pieces like this are highly collectable – prices start at £50 for a good example.

Lustre fell out of favour until financial austerity hit the UK after the Second World War, when precious metals became scarce, and potteries had to adapt to survive.

Royal Worcester invented a type of heat-resistant porcelain for use in hospitals, which was later developed into a range of ‘fireproof’ gold lustreware.

Collecting antique lustreware
These two vintage Royal Worcester tea sets (photographed as one) are from Bouton.

Meanwhile, Royal Winton created ‘planished’ imitation silver lustre pieces, designed to replicate traditional silver tea sets.

‘These post-war tea sets were made in large quantities, so are relatively affordable and easy to come by,’ explains Snowdon, ‘though the glaze can rub away, so collectors should avoid pieces that have been excessively used or washed.’

Advertisement

Tea sets are easy to pick up in antiques shops, fairs and online, with prices from around £20.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content