ironstone brush boxes & grandma Shoemaker’s pitcher

Marian ParsonsAntiques, Favorite Finds, Ironstone44 Comments

It’s no secret that I love ironstone.  It’s my favorite thing to collect and I am totally honed in on it when I’m out shopping for antiques.

I get excited at just about any piece of ironstone, but uncommon pieces especially get my heart pumping just a little faster.  Such is the case with brush boxes.  I own a couple and have sold a few, but they aren’t very easy to find and usually they are a bit pricey ($50-150).


They are long, narrow boxes with lids that would have originally come in a “wash set” that contained a wash basin, pitcher, chamberpot, slop bucket, etc.  The brush box would hold toothbrushes and perhaps razors.


I found the most amazing brush box when Kriste and I were out shopping earlier this week and the price was definitely right!  I think it was $18 or something crazy like that.  I spotted it and impulsively reached across Kriste, practically lunging to grab it.  I held it like it was a baby bird.  Kriste had been running my picks up to the register and I handed it gently to her.

“Carry this very carefully…”


The pattern is so unique and it’s in beautiful condition.  The crazing is perfect.

mms-5710 mms-5713

I don’t have a hallmark book, but I know some of my readers do.  If you find anything about this mark, please let me know!  It’s nice that the lid and the base are marked, which isn’t always the case.


Some other unique pieces I found were these bowls…


The pattern isn’t unusual, but I haven’t seen bowls this size.  They are almost like small serving bowls.  I had never seen any like them, so I had to grab those, too.


I also found this really pretty pitcher with the clovers around the handles…

mms-5716 mms-5717

I didn’t realize until I got home that the pitcher had been marked as “Grandmother Shoemaker’s” with a piece of masking tape…


Aw, Grandmother Shoemaker, I may not be your granddaughter, but your ironstone is in good hands.


If you’d like to learn more about ironstone, you can check out my posts about one my favorite things…

Ironstone 101

Ironstone 201

I give you fair warning, though – it’s addictive.

ironstone brush boxes & grandma Shoemaker’s pitcher

Related Posts

Paris 2019 | the fountain pen store

artist’s guild, an engineering set & ironstone

French Market Basket

antique jelly cupboard

44 Comments on “ironstone brush boxes & grandma Shoemaker’s pitcher”

  1. The ironstone brush box is wonderful! So glad you found it and shared it with us. Here in Alabama, well, we don’t see ironstone as often as you do up north. Keep sharing! The grandmother Shoemaker label is so sweet–I’m glad it’s in such appreciative hands, too! Would a soap dish be included in the set you mentioned? I saw one about a year ago and it had a lid, too. It had a pretty bad crack in it so I passed…..:(
    Happy weekend.

  2. Hi Marian,
    The backstamp/mark on your latest ironstone brushbox identifies it as being made by C & W.K. Harvey. The company was in business in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire from 1835-1853. The pattern name is “Florentine” and was registered in 1850, according to my favorite website on the history of the Staffordshire potteries (

    I LOVE it as you do and so wish California had a fraction of the ironstone that the Northeast seems to have!

  3. Nice finds. Kind of sad, though, that the heirs of grandmother shoemaker didn’t care enough to keep that pitcher. Maybe there were no heirs. That happens sometimes.

  4. Hi Marian! I found the hallmark for the brush box…It is made by Charles & William Kenwright Harvey of Stoke-On-Trent in England. They were only in business from 1835-1853, so it’s definitely an old one! The pattern is “Florentine” and was registered in 1850. I believe the registry number shows that the box was made July, 16th, 1850. Congrats on such a wonderful find! 🙂

    Here is the link to the info I found on the maker:

  5. That box is adorable! Great find!
    I started collecting a couple of years ago, after reading your blog.
    I’ve yet to see a brush box in person, only a couple of pricey ones online.
    The search continues… And yes, it is addicting!
    Love your inspiration, Marian.
    Thank You!

  6. I saw one of those boxes recently and passed it up in a moment of restraint! It was VERY old but no chips and only $3. Sometimes I err….but there’s always next time, right? Love seeing all your ironstone and even though you aren’t related to Grandma Shoemaker, I know you are making her smile by your loving care of, and appreciation for, her pitcher!

  7. I love ironstone too! Do you like the blue and white clover ironstone? I just got a 3pc set and immediately thought of you because of your love of blue and white!! ? maybe we could trade … Milk paint for ironstone! Wink wink

  8. Love ironstone and love all your pieces! Just for fun, I thought I’d do a little snooping around the internet to see what I could out. Rather difficult to find. Found a couple by other makers. I did find one site with markings. When you go there, scroll down a little to see them. Don’t know if it’s helpful or not. 😀

  9. Love the tape on the bottom of that pitcher! I’ve been blessed with a couple of my grandmother’s blue willow pieces. She used these often as serving pieces for potlucks and Thanksgiving dinners. On the bottom of each is her last name on a piece if bandage tape…in her handwriting! On the rare occasions that I use them, I carefully wash around that tape…it means as much mto me as the piece itself!!

    1. Yeah, I loved the tape, too! 🙂 It’s definitely staying on the piece as long as I own it. And you’re right…I called it masking tape, but it is like a white bandage tape.

  10. I love ironstone and it is very addictive. Just when I think I have enough I stubble upon a piece I do not have.
    Last year at an auction I bid on a very large collection of ironstone and won. In the collection were two bowls just like the ones you bought. Mine are the same pattern and I have found they are great for small houseplants. I just wish I could find a use for all of the plates that were in the collection.
    I love Grandma Showmaker’s pitcher, I’ve never seen that pattern before. She would be happy knowing it’s in your care.

  11. Beautiful, Marian!
    The brush box registration mark indicates a registry mark used between 1842-1883. For yours specifically, IV indicates ceramics; V indicates year of registry as 1850; Rd is the abbreviation for “registered”; the I letter to the left indicates the month of July as registered; the arabic numeral on the right indicates the day of the month (16th) registered; the arabic numeral below the Rd indicates the parcel number, which was a code indication the person or company who registered the pattern or the ware. Your company is C & WK Harvey, pattern is Florentine. According to my reference book, “this firm, as well as Charles Harvey & Sons, produced earthenwares and china at Stafford Street, Charles Street, Chancery Lane, Longton, from 1835 to 1853. The Stafford Street works were continued by Holland & Green.” (Romantic Staffordshire Ceramics, by Jeffrey B. Snyder)

  12. Marian could those small bowls possibly be handleless ironstone cups? Without knowing their dimensions it’s hard to tell from your photo. I’ve been collecting and using them for a couple of years now. So fun to use old things ?

  13. Love your blog. I was browsing throught Ironstone 101 and noticed the picture of the cow, bull, steer?

    Would you mind telling me where you purchased it. It so reminds me of the farm animals on my grandmother’s farm.

    Thank you for any information you can provide. Keep up the good work!

  14. Love your brush box!! And the bowls are awesome too. I think of this sized bowl as an ice cream bowl…they used to make ice cream sets in the Victorian times with a large serving bowl and several medium sized but deep bowls, just like yours. Ice cream was a precious treat back then…

  15. Oh I got excited when I read your title and saw the name Grandmother Shoemaker! My husband’s family are from the Shoemaker’s in Emmett Idaho, and his grandmother was a treasure!!
    Such a beautiful find.
    And well done, Rita C. for finding the registration mark info.
    Lovely inspiration, Marian.

  16. i looked up ironstone marks this one did come up.
    it tells the class, year month day of month and parcel,
    look up Mason’s factory marks/Janice Paull

  17. Love, love, love ironstone of all kinds and pitchers especially make me swoon! Love the shamrocks on this one!

  18. Showing my age, but when I was a young girl, about 50 years ago (boy, is it weird to say THAT), my mom had a few little oval ironstone mini platters – you know, the kind you see all over – just a few inches long. I still remember to this day, they were crazed, and stained and she put bleach in them and put them in the sun on the concrete garage windowsill to try to whiten them up. I don’t know if it worked, I know from that moment on, I was hooked. I can’t recall if my grandmother (my dad’s mom) gave them to her or not, but that grandma always gave my mom things that were either cracked or chipped or broken. I still love ironstone to this day. I have never seen a brush box, but I sure will be looking now. My favorite thing to do is buy pieces at a garage sale, cracked and crazed for 25 cents each! Thanks for sharing another wonderful find with us!

  19. Your pieces are wonderful. I love ironstone too. I recently sold a great looking pitcher in my ebay shop. I also have a few more pieces I must list.

    I don’t mind chips or cracks either. I fine those pieces charming don’t you?

    Make it a great weekend.

    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  20. Love the brush box! I have one in my collection. It’s very plain and simple, but I found it at an estate sale for $3. It was the only one I had ever seen but I knew it was ironstone so I bought it. When I got home and started researching online, I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the prices! Love to see all the beautiful pieces you find.

  21. I had never heard of a brush box before I read your post. I, too, am hooked on ironstone so now I will know what unique item to look for when I’m shopping for new pieces. I mean “old” pieces. (You know what I mean!) Thanks for sharing your find, Marian!

  22. How appropriate that you should blog about your ironstone “Grandmother Shoemaker’s” pitcher on 3/17/2016 (St Patrick’s Day) because I fell in love with the little SHAMROCKS design (what you called “clovers”).

  23. Hi Marian,
    I think the small bowls are actually waste bowls. I have a couple that I use for succulents and orchids. I love all of your finds!

  24. For just half a second on Friday, I thought I had found a brush box. When I was close enough to really have a good look, I could see it was an enamel pan with a lid. The lid had a handle so that’s what had attracted my attention in the first place. A nice little find, but not a brush box! Keeping my eyes peeled ?.

  25. Hi Marian…forgive my ignorance but what is a “brush box” ?
    It’snot something I am familiar with having grown up in South Africa and now living in Dubai!

  26. I come from a long line of Shoemakers from Virginia so I’m sure that pitcher must have been meant for me!

  27. Hi Marion. I am named after my great grandmother who lived to be 104. She was “Grandmother Shoemaker” – not “Grandma,” “Grandmother.” She was born and raised and Missouri and lived the last 50 years of her life in upstate NY. She died when I was in college so I knew her well. While it would be an enormously huge coincidence, I would be curious to learn where you found this pitcher and if I could make you an offer for it.

  28. Boy you can tell Grandmother Shoemaker’s descendants aren’t in MY family. There’s been a saying in my family for as long as I can remember and as each family member passed it was believed more and more and that is, “a Grove NEVER gets rid of ANYTHING”. If you could have seen the old “homeplace” after my one great aunt died in 1996 and the stuff we found in the house you would understand. Not only were there possession going back at least 3 and 4 generations, but in the last 50 years in that house there was rarely a bag (paper or plastic), bread twisty, popsicle stick, rubber band (mostly rotted by now), paper clip, piece of paper, pencil, pen, piece of paper, and it went on and on and on that had NOT been tossed. I guess it was just a different form of recycling in the years before that day. We did get rid of all of that stuff. While the oldest part of my home was built in 1795, it didn’t come into my family until around 1918 or so when Grandpa Garnand purchased the home. I didn’t know either of them obviously but I DID know, and love very much my great-grandparents. They were my babysitters from the age of 8 months till age 13 when my “Memaw” suddenly died from a massive stroke. Blessedly my “Nanny” passed when I was 28 and he was in his 90s. We were lucky to have him so long. My dad did know Grandpa Garnand who died when he was 5 years old. My dad lived there with his mother and his grandparents until he married my mother in 1960. The house has been the center of the family this entire time and I am extremely fortunate that when my great aunt passed I was the one that was either fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, to be there next. The fortunate side is pretty obvious, at least for me. It felt like home, basically WAS home in many ways despite living in a different house with my parents and sibling until my early 30s. (I was helping to care for several elderly relatives – we don’t put family in nursing homes). The house already was completely filled with antiques and family mementos before I even put one item into it. On the UNFORTUNATE side was the massive renovation taking a good year and a half to include repointing and paint removal of ALL the red brick, completely new electrical, plumbing, and complete insulation. What was keeping the cold air out before had to have been the 8 layers of wallpaper we removed from the walls and the 5 layers of linoleum and then more other work than I could even list here. My point here is how important family and homes and possessions are to our family. And what began this whole story was seeing the picture of the pitcher with the tag “Grandmother Shoemaker’s”. HOW could ANYONE in a family, unless “Grandmother” was completely despised and detested and basically a hated old cow, (apparently my maternal grandmother’s one grandmother was viewed like that by her own family so it happens) (I’d still keep the pitcher for the dollar value)………sell something like this that was used and valued and cared for by a beloved relative? I mean, not only do I have large items like furniture and tools (my dad and brother have the farm machinery) but I have as just one example my great-grandmother’s hair pins (I remember helping her comb her hair, never cut, in her last several years, that HAD to have gone to her knees) used by her when she wound all her hair into a bun. I have recipes at least 150 years old, including numerous recipes written by my Memaw in her own hand. I have her rolling pin and dough board. I have my great-grandfather’s hoe and shovels and other gardening items. There’s an oak table in my kitchen from a maternal great-aunt. There are items from at least 3 or 4 great-aunts, two grandmothers, one set of great-grandparents, a set of great-great-grandparents and even a few items of my own parents (still living thankfully). (this is all before I even put in my own things) I have dishes going back I have no idea how far. I now serve my brother’s children and hopefully not too far away in the future their children Christmas and other holiday meals on dishes and items that both myself and my brother and even my dad used in all of our childhoods. I know there are items of dishes going back at least 4 or 5 generations. I’ve used these things since the children were small so they will have meaning. They will have Christmas and Easter and other memorial of meal served on those very items. They will have a history for them I hope they will continue. While my niece isn’t much “into antiques” (which means she may not receive many), my nephew just graduated from college 2 days ago as a history major. One reason he went this path in life is his love of antiques (thank heavens) developed by hundreds of trips to auctions with his other grandmother. While she was going to buy junk to sell at her endless yard sales, she didn’t know in dragging her grandson along to help was that she was fostering his interest in the antiques. You see he knew even when young all the family items. So what I’m saying by all of this is………first, I haven’t the foggiest idea in the world how someone could let go of things like their grandmother’s tableware and second, we NEED to value these pieces of family history. I know, I know, we can’t keep EVERYTHING (although some of us give it a pretty darn good try) and if you’re reading this blog I have a feeling you KNOW all about that. So if anyone of you out there is Grandmother Shoemaker’s offspring, then shame on you. How could you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *