China and Casual Dinnerware

Introduction to Fine China and Casual Dinnerware

During my career as a ceramic engineer, I worked at the Coors Porcelain Company in Golden Colorado where he made industrial ceramics and chemical porcelain, Interpace Corporation which owned Franciscan, Myatt and Meakin, at Pfaltzgraff and for the last 17 years of my ceramic carreer as VP of Research and Development of Lenox China Corporation. (I also worked for other companies and I was associate professor of ceramic engineering at Iowa State University which had little to do with the dinnerware industry).

There are several types of dinnerware in the consumer market:

Porcelain: Developed by the Chinese and made by the porcelain process in which the body is first fired to the relatively low temperature, glazed and then matured at a high temperature. This process is used in making chemical porcelain, electrical insulators, hotel china and dinnerware.

Pros: the product is very strong and durable. The glaze is lead-free and is in strong compression so that it does not craze due to water expansion.

Cons: decorations tend to sit on top of the glaze rather than settle down into the glaze during the decorating fires. That means that the decorations may not be as durable as desired. Decorations are more limited to avoid such problems as abrasion of the decorations during use. The foot is not glazed which means that it can scratch glazed surfaces. You have probably noticed that in restaurants using hotel china at the decorations often consist of only a single band.

Stoneware: the body and glaze are fired to a high temperature together so that there is good glaze fit and the water absorption of the body is less than 1%. The glazes are often colored which is often the only form of decoration.

Pros: the product is durable and attractive.

Cons: The foot is not glazed. Decorations are very limited. Many companies call their products stoneware when it is really earthenware of inferior quality.

Earthenware: the body is usually glazed before firing and the body and glaze are fired together. Sometimes the where is fired on ceramic pins so that the foot is glazed. A number of different processes can be used to decorate ware and where is often very attractive. The water absorption of the final product is about 5% or more. This is one of the most common products in the dinnerware market.

Pros: the where is very attractive in most cases and it is inexpensive.

Cons: if the foot of the where is not glazed, then water absorption causes the glaze to craze which you often see in antique ware. If the foot is not glazed than the reference can cause damage to the glazed surface of other ware. Sometimes earthenware is made by a two fire process to improve the efficiency of pleasing operations. Other than where glazes may contain lead and older where should probably be tested before usage.

Fine china: in the fine china process, and the body is matured at a high temperature and glazed at a lower temperature. This permits the usage of a soft glaze which is conducive to a number of decorating techniques that result in beautiful products with a brilliant glaze, often containing lead, and decorations that are well sunk into the glaze for durability.

Pros: manufactured with the finest materials to produce a translucent body and that if you hold a dinner plate up to a light you can see your hand through the plate. The foot is unglazed. Decorations are applied by banding, acid etching, decalcomania and printing.

Cons: Foot is usually not glazed. The glaze may be soft and subject to scratching. Dollies may have to be placed between plates in the china cabinet. Often used for special occasions only. Glaze may contain lead. Do not give a child orange juice every morning in a china cup. (In recent years, the amount of lead in dinnerware products has been greatly reduced or eliminated.)

Bone China: has about 50% bone ash which is calcined at a high temperature to remove all organic matter (for this reason, many Jewish people, rabies consider bone china kosher. Bone china made with inorganic phosphates is identical physically and chemically with regular bone china.) Bone bone China is made by the China process but at higher temperatures and is more durable than lower fired bone China. Because of the hardness of the glaze, decorating techniques may be less effective.

Pros: beautiful durable translucent fine china.

Cons: foot is un-glazed. Glaze may contain lead but at a lower content than some fine china glazes.

Companies That Provide Quality Dinnerware

Below are companies that make quality dinnerware. I have been in their factories, knew or still know their executive staffs and I know their quality standards.

Corning (glass and glass ceramics known for durability)

Bestseller Corning Dinnerware

Lenox (fine china, bone china, crystal)

Eternal and Autumn are long-time Lenox best sellers. Lenox has made the White House and State Department fine china a number of times donate by kind but wealthy individuals.

Mikasa (a distributor dinnerware)

Bestseller Mikasa Dinnerware

Noritake (fine china, bone china, earthenware)


Royal Doulton (fine china, bone china)


Bestseller Royal Doulton Dinnerware

Villory and Bach (fine china, bone china)


Wedgewood (fine china, bone china, Waterford crystal)


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