What is Delftware?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Delftware is pottery produced in the Dutch region of Delft, which has become famous for its pottery. Classic Delftware has a very distinctive blue and white design with a high sheen accomplished through multiple glazings. Numerous department stores and home design stores carry Delftware and imitations which are designed to remind people of this famous and sometimes highly coveted pottery.

Delft became a famous region for pottery production in the 16th century, when potters began to settle in large numbers in the region, producing earthenware with a tin glaze which created a bright white coating. Producers in Delft began decorating their white pottery and refining their process, and Delftware was heavily influenced by Chinese porcelain.

The rise of Delftware made pottery accessible to people in a wide range of classes, rather than restricting it to the wealthy. Delft soon became a powerhouse of ceramics production in Europe, and in addition to making the famous Delft blue pottery, crafters also created Delft black, with a black background, and polychrome pieces, with designs in a variety of colors.

Official Delftware today bears the Delfts Blauw stamp to indicate that it is authentic, and it features very detailed, delicate designs, many of which include classic Dutch scenes like windmills. Delftware plates, bowls, and other kitchen utensils are very popular, and it is also possible to find ceramic dolls made from Delftware, along with Delftware tiles and other collectible items.


Antique Delftware looks markedly different from modern Delftware, due to changes in production techniques, but both modern and antique versions are considered to be collectible. Some people like to gather and display various Delftware items in their homes along with other collectible ceramics, and others actively use their Delftware in table settings for formal events. People who like the look and feel of Delftware often choose to use imitations in daily table settings.

When people use Delftware for eating, they should be careful. Some potters use a lead-based final glaze to achieve the famous sheen of traditional Delftware, making the pottery unsafe to eat from. In most regions of the world, products which contain lead must be labeled, but such labels may fall off or be removed, making it hard to know whether pottery is unsafe. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer; the manufacturer's stamp usually remains intact even when pottery is resold.


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Post 2

Great article. I am trying to find information on DELFTS WIT. I have a very large white vase with a foil label on the bottom that reads: Delfts Wit. Can anyone help me with this? Date of label? Where from? Etc. Thanks.

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