Utility China: My Petalware Collection

I was washing all my dishes after the kitchen reno. With everything looking so neat and tidy, I took the opportunity to take some snaps of my collection of pastel tablewares. Most are stamped Grindley, and was made particularly for the Canadian, United States, South American and Australian markets. And most it comes from a collection called Petalware.

I’ve been collecting the stuff since I moved to Toronto. Colours I have include lupin, peach leaf, cream, almond and labrunum. Recently I’ve heard these ceramics referred to as Utility China. Basically, the UK’s Utility scheme was a plan to provide the country with standardized, well designed household furnishings during the war years. Wartime and post war rationing greatly influenced the potteries of Staffordshire – especially in the low to mid-priced sector of the industry.

Standardization would explain why it’s so easy to mix and match my pastel dishes with other collections such as Johnson Bros. Dawn collection, a T.C. Green pitcher and even my tragic Susie Cooper casserole (I was just carrying it home from the Salvation Army Thrift Shop when a drunk guy staggered into me, breaking it into pieces – I glued it back together but it can’t be used to hold casserole anymore).

Most of what I know about Petalware is anecdotal. My friend’s mom told me that she used to buy it pieces by piece as a premium at the gas station. One reason I started collecting it was because the thrift shops used to be full of these pretty pieces. I used to have more, but because they are our everyday dishes, they tend to get broken. The last thing I found was the Laburnum Sugar pot.