It’s no secret that I love blue and white. It’s a classic color combination that looks great on everything, and I love it on everything from planners to dishes to decor! One of my favorite home looks is a blue and white collection. Whether it’s ginger jars, china displayed on a wall, vintage vases, or something else, you just can’t go wrong with a curated collection of blue and white. If you’ve been an admirer of the look, but don’t know where to start, my mom and I put together a video all about blue and white ceramics to give you some ideas!
A few notes:
I like to organize my collections by a common theme. Sometimes I start with a pattern, but you don’t have to find multiple pieces in the same pattern to have a fabulous collection! You can also look for things of similar shapes, colors, or made with the same technique. Just find a common thread and start collecting!
If you really don’t know where to start, I’ve listed a few of my favorite patterns to collect below! You can look for them at estate sales, thrift stores, or if you prefer to shop online, search on eBay or sites like Replacements, Ltd.
Some of the most familiar blue and white patterns are:
- Kraak – Chinese Porcelain
- Produced for Europe in large quantities from the 16th century to 17th century. Recognizable by the panel-style decoration around a central design. Blue-grey in tone. Kraak, sometimes referred to as kraakware, is rumored to be named after the Portuguese ships that carried so much of the blue and white from China to Europe.
- Canton – Chinese Porcelain
- Canton is a Chinese export porcelain pattern that appeared at the end of the 18th century. It is know for a cobalt blue with a central panel of houses, mountains, figures, and bridges within a landscape. Most Canton was made for tableware and was popular in England and America. It was a popular, common, and affordable china, gracing the tables of both prominent citizens and the less affluent. This pattern inspired the English transferware Blue Willow. It is called Canton (Guangzhou), after the port where it was decorated and shipped.
- Nanking – Chinese Porcelain
- A popular 19th century tableware porcelain in cobalt. Most often darker than Canton, Nanking offered a more refined decoration. The central decoration of Nanking resembles Canton, but it is usually more detailed with a figure on the bridge.
- Fitzhugh – Chinese Porcelain
- A 19th century porcelain export pattern, Fitzhugh consists of four geometric sections around a central medallion. The designs contains vegetation, butterflies, honeycomb, and florals. It was produced not only in blue, but also green, orange, purple, and yellow. More recently, both UK-based Spode and Portugal-based Mottahedeh reproduced the design, and while both factories have discontinued the pattern, dinnerware sets can be found.
- Blue Onion – German Porcelain
- Not actually featuring onions, when this pattern was first made, the it was called the “bulb” pattern. Based on a pomegranate pattern first made by Chinese porcelain painters, the Germany-based Meissen factory adopted it in 1740 and modified the design to include floral that Europeans were more familiar with. Almost every European factory made one in the 1800s. The outlines were printed on transfer paper, and the colors were added by hand. A very similar Japanese version called “Blue Danube” is also available for tableware.
- Currier and Ives – American Dinnerware
- The lithographs of Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, two of the most well-known printmakers in American history, served as the inspiration for this pattern. Between 1949 until 1986, the Royal China Company of Sebring, Ohio, manufactured it. Millions of pieces were produced throughout the course of its 37-year existence, and Currier and Ives pictures were used to embellish each one. Imperial Blue was the most popular shade, although it was also available in pink, green, brown, gray, and, for a short time, multicolored. Also known as “grocery store china”, S&H Green Stamps could be used to purchase and collect the dinnerware. The dishes were offered for sale via catalog through Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, and Kmart in the 1980s. Currier & Ives is an obviously American pattern, but for beginning collectors is easy to find in thrift and antique stores, and usually very affordable for an everyday china.
- Chinese Rice Ware – Chinese Porcelain
- Also called “Rice Grain”, this pattern refers to a decorative approach, not actual incorporated rice grains. Unfired porcelain is ornamented by drilling holes in thick walls and then glazing them. After the unfired porcelain has cured sufficiently to handle, the walls are manually pierced. This technique was brought to China in the 14th century via Turkey. Of all the patterns mentioned here, it is one of the most affordable and durable, being porcelain.
- Asiatic Pheasants – English Transferware
- Transferware is pottery. It can be earthenware or porcelain, ironstone or bone china. Asiatic Pheasants, a transfer-printed pattern, is over 200 years old and typically printed in light blue. The pale shade on pieces is often mistaken for age. The earliest known pieces date back to 1830, and Ralph Hall of Swan Bank Pottery, Staffordshire, possibly created the design. Hall’s Pheasant was likely printed in black. Other manufacturers soon produced light blue Asiatic Pheasants, and it enjoys a great popularity among transferware collectors today.
- Blue Fluted by Royal Copenhagen – Danish Porcelain
- Royal Copenhagen has several versions of their best-selling Blue Fluted, often known as “Musselmalet”. First released in 1775, the traditional blue flower design is still manufactured today in the same manner as it was done hundreds of years ago. Each piece considered as a work of art and meticulously hand-painted. The pattern was revised by the company in 1885, and almost every dinnerware manufacturer has interpreted similar designs over the years.
- Blue Willow – English Transferware
- Probably the most common and most familiar design, we’ve saved it for last. The Blue Willow pattern is said to have originated around 1780, created by Thomas Minton for a foundry in Shropshire. In 1784, Minton relocated to the Spode factory in Staffordshire, where they began using the design. The Willow pattern almost always features a pagoda, two flying birds, a person on a boat, three people on a bridge, and a weeping willow tree. By the late 1800s, a large number of British ceramic enterprises were using similar themes. Our family’s everyday china is Blue Willow by Churchill. I grew up with it, and love it for both it’s whimsy and durability.
If you are already collecting blue and white, what’s is a favorite piece in your collection? Do you have a favorite pattern? If you are just getting started collecting blue and white, what are you hoping to add first? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!