Dating enamelware

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Agate nickel-steel ware ads claimed a "chemist's certificate" proving it free of "arsenic, antimony, and lead" from the 1890s onward.

Enamel had not quite shaken off the suspicion that some formulas leaked toxins into cooked food.

Out of this came the huge range of enamel goods spattered, speckled, and splashed, which appeal to collectors today.

Two companies led the way in patenting and promoting innovations: not just attractive surface decoration but continuing improvements in enamelling sheet metal joints, attaching handles etc.

They got the first US patent for a mottled enamel finish, just a few months before a competing patent by L & G.

Both companies went on to patent numerous improvements: from better spouts to novel surface decoration.

Were enamel-lined cooking pots really as clean and safe as they seemed?

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While in this state it is swiftly taken from the oven, rapidly covered with a white powder, and immediately returned back to the oven, where it is again subjected to a white heat, aud finally taken out to be gradually cooled in the open air.The best-known brands, especially the granite and agate ware names, held onto a strong position into the 20th century. In 1899 Lalance and Grosjean’s “Agate nickel-steel ware” was much more expensive than Haberman’s “grey mottled enameled ware” L&G's 2 quart lipped saucepan cost 18¢ ; Haberman's was 7¢.Meanwhile, Sears had a set of 17 pieces of "Peerless gray enamel ware" selling for about .70.Enamelled cookware came to the US after Western Europe.Around 1850 Americans began to own enamel-lined culinary utensils, but they were very plain, nothing like the colourful mottled surfaces that were yet to come.

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