About Kimbesa

I love dishes, and I continue to haunt thrift stores, estate sales, and other places where vintage china, dinnerware and glassware are to be found.

I talk about Dishes

Made in the USA

Sears Federalist China | White Ironstone

white ironstone Federalist chinaFederalist dinnerware is one of the most popular vintage china patterns I find when scouting. It’s a beautiful white ironstone pattern.

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.

Mayhill Federalist ironstone chinaI find that most people looking for Federalist want to use their china, and they want to find pieces to replace or expand their present dinnerware set.

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.


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28 comments to Sears Federalist China | White Ironstone

  • Karen

    I love this dinnerware. I wis given a set for a wedding gift in 1974 and it has served me well since then. I got the solid white which goes with any other serving dishes and we have used it every single day for both everyday and special occassions. Sadly I need to replace it and have not been abel to find anything close to it. Do you have a suggeting of something that measures up to this great set that could last me another 30 years.

    • Kimbesa

      Hello Karen,

      I have been thinking about your post, and looking for Federalist in my travels. But unfortunately, not finding! I have more to say about this, and I’ll do a post about it soon. Thanks for your patience!

  • Bill

    I too am looking for replacement dinner & dessert plates in the white Fedralist Ironstone pattern that my wife and i have used since we were married in 1975. This is atimeless pattern that Sears ought to revive.

  • Rhonda

    I have an 8pc set of Federalist China #4238 in perfect condition.
    I really don’t care for it (it was my Mom’s) and it is just sitting around collecting dust.
    What is the going price on this type of china?

    • Kimbesa

      Appraisals are outside our scope, but if you advertise your dinnerware in your local area, you should be able to connect with a buyer. Federalist still has a market and is usually snapped up if the condition is good.

    • Tanya

      Me too, Rhonda!! I have a set that was my mothers and I too, don’t really care for it. Was considering donating to a women’s shelter.

      • John Belluardo

        Do you still have the Federalist china?
        I would like to buy.

        • kimbesa

          Hello John!

          Sorry, I sold most of mine. (Phone info removed for privacy.)

          This dinnerware is out there, though there is competition for pieces in good condition. The easiest for many people would be to put in a request with Replacements. I’ve bought from them in the past and their pieces are in top-notch condition.

          I hope you find the dishes you’re looking for!

  • Mikie

    I chose the Sears Federalist Ironstone China as my everyday dishware when I married in 1972. I have used it for 40 years. It now needs to be replaced. Many of the pieces are still in great condition but my dinner plates have started to craze and some of my bowls are chipped. There is a website called replacements.com but I have to order sight unseen. Do you have any suggestions of places I might go to look for it? I live in Texas.

    • Kimbesa

      I have purchased from Replacements and the dishes I received were in pristine condition, and packed very well for shipping. Beyond that, you can check any number of thrift stores and estate sales that you have in your area.

      In my travels, it remains rare for me to find any dishes from this product line. Homer Laughlin brought back Fiesta, and I see that Dansk has now brought back Kobenstyle. Wish that Sears would bring back Federalist, but I guess that might be too much of a stretch. We can hope though!

  • JeAnna

    I found a 63 piece at a thrift store today and all but 2 of the smaller sandwich plates were in great condition. Are these pieces microwave safe??

    • kimbesa

      Unfortunately, if you’re wanting to use these in the microwave, I wouldn’t. Likely they will get hot, at least. I checked the mark on pieces that I own. “Dishwasher safe, oven proof.”

      This dinnerware comes of an era when microwaves were still uncommon in home kitchens. These would be awesome for a Thanksgiving or Sunday dinner.

  • JeAnna

    Thank you Kimbesa,
    I was not sure what microwaving them might do to the finish.
    It is still a very pretty set : )

  • Kelly B

    Thrift stores seem to be the best place to find original pieces of Federalist Ironstone. I live in North East Ohio and I have found a serving bowl and six bread plates in the local thrift shop in the last 6 months. I also saw another piece in Michigan when I went thrifting with my sister.

  • Adam

    I just found a set of 50-60 pieces butter dish gravy boat everything. The mayhill federalist blue and white and blue carnation. Amazing find for 19.97

  • Robert Hoadley

    I moved out on my own in 1981, three days after I graduated high school. My first set of dishes was this set, simple white and durable. I bought it at Sears, had to walk there because I did not have a car yet. I STILL use it and have since replaced broken pieces and expanded on the set. This is my everyday china and has never gone out of fashion.

  • Crystal

    Hello! I have a partial set of the buttercup federalist iron ware and am searching for more pieces, however when looking on eBay and such a lot the yellow iron ware is being called lemon… Trying to figure out if the sellers are just calling it that or if they made two different shades of yellow?? Mine says buttercup on the bottom of each dish

    • kimbesa

      Hello Crystal,

      I have not heard of a “lemon” version of this pattern. Those who are calling it lemon might be trying to give that color as a description to help buyers find the dinnerware, because “buttercup” probably is not as commonly used these days, as it may have been in the past.

      It could also be that pieces which have been used over time, and cleaned repeatedly in the dishwasher, are no longer as richly yellow as they would have been when new.

      A third possibility, different product runs over time could result in differences, similar to the dye lots that are important when matching yarn.

      I think the only way to know for sure, is to get verification of the back stamps on the pieces you’re considering, and then see a few of those “lemon” pieces in person to see how they match.

  • Crystal

    I did zoom in on some of the back stamps and while they were faded it did look like they said lemon instead of buttercup! I just don’t want to buy the wrong pieces. Not sure what to think at this point!! Thank you for the quick response 🙂

    • kimbesa

      I did some more research, and there were two yellow versions of this dinnerware. One Buttercup and one Lemon. I did not find information to tell whether one was more popular than the other back in the day, or whether one was produced for a longer time.

      But you do have a way to tell whether the item is the right color, and to help sort out the listings when seeking Buttercup pieces online.

      I hope this helps you with your collection!

  • Wendy

    I don’t know much about this stuff, but I snagged about 60 pieces of Lemon Federalist Ironstone for $20 yesterday. There are some missing pieces but it’s still a beautiful set!

    • kimbesa

      Congratulations, Wendy!
      You got some beautiful dinnerware in a cheerful color. I hope you will enjoy using it for years to come!

  • Rose Clark

    I bought a complete set of the Lancaster Blue Calico Federalist (Sears) about 100 years ago at a Sears Outlet..to this day, it is my very favorite dinnerware. I also have some of the Lemon Federalist that my mother had..they are both nice..but, the blue calico is my fave. Some odd pieces can be found on eBay…thanks!! Smiles, Rose in GA

    • kimbesa

      Hello Rose!

      What an awesome set of dishes! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one “out in the wild,” only the Mayhill.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

  • Rose Clark

    Hello again..I just noticed a question about the Buttercup and Lemon Federalist..the buttercup is a creamy yellow and the lemon is a very bright yellow..so, they are NOT the same.

  • […] Sears Federalist China | White Ironstone – … – Federalist dinnerware is one of the most popular vintage china patterns I find when scouting. It’s a beautiful white ironstone pattern. A name like […]

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