Har-Ber Village exhibits one of the largest collections of gold lustre tea leaf ironstone china in the United States. To create the lustre, gold or copper oxide is added in different designs or motifs to the glazes before firing the ironstone.
Ironstone was originally introduced by Anthony Shaw, an English potter. Potters in England produced ironstone from the mid-1850s through the early 1900s. The clay for some of this china came from Cherokee land in present-day North Carolina.
Early tea leaf ironstone was produced in many body styles and was heavy in weight. By the 1870s and 1880s, simpler body styles were introduced and were lighter in weight. American potters began the manufacturing process in the 1880s incorporating different motifs and designs.
It was a much desired dinnerware and durable enough to survive ocean travel and overland journeys. Tea leaf was a favorite of farm and working class folks. Some pieces show elements of a more elaborate Victorian usage. It was prized for its durability, beauty, simplicity, craft and style.
The collection is housed in the Stagecoach Dining Room and is striking as it combines table settings and wall displays as well as individual pieces.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Har-Ber Village library books
"Grandma's Tea Leaf Ironstone - a history and study of English and American potteries."
"Grandma's Tea Leaf Ironstone Price Guide" (1981) shows values from $12.00 to $1,000.