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Dec 30, 2013 05:36 PM

Vintage dishware- Any issues?

I've decided to finally step up and get some better dishware. And, I figured I could find some good deals on some vintage dishware on Craigslist. There's gotta be so many dishware that gets registered for weddings but never really got used as our society has gotten more casual.

But, then, I read this article about the safety of eating off vintage plates:

It was specifically talking about Fiestaware, but I'm troubled by this sentence, "First, as a bit of background, FDA established and began enforcing limits on leachable lead in tableware 40 years ago. Obviously, any ware, Fiestaware or otherwise, manufactured prior to that era was not subject to FDA limits, because they didn’t exist."

Do I need to worry about this issue for porcelain and bone china dishware that's over forty years old? And, are there any other issues with vintage dishware that I should be concerned or look out for?

I saw a good deal for some old Wedgewood, even though there's way too many pieces for me. But, now I don't know if I should buy it.

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  1. Well, you can always use the lead testing kit to check.

    Many porcelain dinningware prior to FDA getting involved did have lead in them. It does not mean they are unsafe to use, but they more than likely has lead in them. It does not mean the lead will come off.

    <And, are there any other issues with vintage dishware that I should be concerned or look out for?>

    Radioactive materials. :)

    "It has been found that past glazes have been radioactive or contained lead glazes, but these have been discontinued."

    " You'd better sit down for this, lad. The pigment in red Fiestaware contains, among other things, uranium oxide. The Homer Laughlin China Company, which began making Fiestaware in 1936, was forced to discontinue the red version in 1943 so the uranium could be diverted to make atom bombs.

    Gives you pause, no? Well, don't get too alarmed. The actual amount of radioactivity is extremely low--less than the normal background radiation you get from rocks and stuff. "

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thanks for cutting through and giving, as usual, a good explanation. Somehow I'm betting that Queen Elizabeth is eating off VERY old dishes and she seems to be hanging in there pretty well :) Just being silly.

      1. re: c oliver

        All in all it should be fine. As long as the porcelain is fired at high temperature (which should be), there should not be much lead leaching out. On top of top, adults have a much higher tolerance for lead than children.

    2. You need to look at the specific brand. Fiestaware and Bauer ring ware from the same period are highly contaminated. Those bright hues are a dead giveaway. They are for Holiday use only. On the plus side, their are no deals to be found because they are highly collectible. Vibrant vintage color = worse. Modern pottery made outside of the US (such as Mexico) that is highly pigmented is very often contaminated as well.

      Vintage bone china etc is usually fine. It was the pigments that were problems.

      1. I've been using my mother's Wedgwood Wellesley (circa 1951) since I was little, and I'm still kickin'.