A name like Federalist recalls the American Revolution and the years after, when the young country was refined. It shouts “traditional table setting” by name alone, and even more when you see the shapes.
Federalist pieces are durable with classic style. They are on the heavy side for their size, but too heavy. They compare well, in weight and glaze quality, with many of the best contemporary stoneware dinnerware lines.
This dinnerware was made in solid white, solid yellow and white with blue floral transfer motif, called Mayhill. In the photos, you can see the gentle embossing, scrollwork handles and detailed finial on the top of the sugar bowl.
Federalist was made in Japan and sold by Sears in the 1960s and 1970s.
Forty plus years ago, back to school meant a trip to Sears at our house. Those were the days of the printed catalog, and big department stores. We got clothes and shoes for the school year ahead.
Sears sold everything you needed for home as well, including dinnerware and this china.
What is ironstone china?
This ware was developed in England and patented in the early 1800s. The formula of the clay, and the firing temperatures, made it more durable than the earthenware made for everyday use before that time, and less expensive than the finer porcelain dinnerware.
It was designed to be mass produced and give the rising middle class something that was both beautiful and durable. A lot of ironstone dinnerware was and is still made.
White ironstone china remains popular, so much that it has its own collectors association. Many people are looking for antique English ironstone. Whole books have been written about this china, and even specific pieces, such as white ironstone pitchers or teapots.
Federalist is another one of the dinnerware patterns that I love to find when I’m on my dish scouting trips. White goes with everything, and a traditional pattern like Federalist has timeless, classic appeal.
About the photos: Federalist china in white, along with the January 2009 issue of Victoria magazine, which featured vintage ironstone dinnerware. Federalist creamer showing the blue and white Mayhill pattern.