Lead content in vintage china - specifically Franciscan?

lmarksSeptember 18, 2006

I have been dying to buy some vintage Franciscan apple pieces, but I'd like to actually use them to feed my family - and I'm a bit worried about the possibility of lead being used in the glaze and/or paint. I've googled "Franciscan + lead" to no avail. Can anyone here enlighten me? I know that reproduction pieces are still being made today, but something tells me they will not be as pretty, and (need it be said) I'm a sucker for anything old. But I would consider new pieces as long as they are a creamy color like the old ones (no bright white for me!), so if anyone can speak about the color matching of new vs. old, I'd love to hear that too.

Many thanks.

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I understand you can buy lead test kits at Walmart, hardware stores, etc. They're supposed to be accurate and inexpensive and can be used on dishes, among other things. I don't think they tell *how much* lead is present, though. I've tried to find info on this before, and it's difficult -- mostly just advice to not use vintage dishes in the microwave or serve acidic foods on them.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:12PM
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No of course not....they were made in the US...we didn't condone lead in glazes of ware used for food long before Franciscan was made.
I know of no commonly available US made ware that has lead glaze.
I grew up eating off the stuff.....no lead in original Franciscan. Where did you ever hear that it did??
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:22PM
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I've tried to track this down before (I was looking specifically at Lu-Ray). Just did a short search and here's a sample:

Ellen Hocheiser, PhD says:
"All vintage Fiesta contains lead and many other heavy metals. This is true of most dishes made before 1972. It is also true of some china now (My niece's Wedgwood China contains lead). Whether lead is in the dishes or not is irrelevant, what is important is whether or not the heavy metals will leach into food. Most Fiesta glazes do not leach a lot of lead. However acidic solutions (vinegar, orange juice, etc,) increase leaching as does heating the plate or using the plate in the microwave. The red was fired at a lower temperature and therefore do leach more heavy metals."

And from another article:

"And, like most dishes made before 1972, all vintage Fiesta contains lead and other heavy metals. For this reason, many collectors choose not to use their antique tableware every day. How much of the lead can leach into food while using the dishes remains in question. However, it is generally advised not to heat vintage tableware in the microwave or place acidic foods on them, which can increase the lead leaching."

I believe Hall china was the first to develop a lead-free glaze, and they were decades ahead of everyone else -- seems like that was the early part of the century. But as I remember it, using the single-fire process with the lead-free glaze made crazing impossible -- and I know Lu-Ray can have crazing.

Vintage Franciscan Apple would be what, 1940's? About the same time as early Lu-Ray? I'd love for my own peace of mind to see in writing somewhere that there's no danger...because we use the Lu-Ray as everyday dishes. I don't put them in the microwave, but I do in the dishwasher.

I guess I figure if it was a real danger we'd be hearing more about it.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 12:42AM
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Franciscan Apple would be 1940 or a little later..I seem to think it was post war.
The Fiesta is notorious...one of the colors at one time was radioactive, slightly. But they changed the formula.
From what I know ( and I have not done any reading recently on the subject) lead glazes were made because the body of the ware was colored and needed to be covered and was cheaper than tin glazes.
Fiesta was very cheap when it first came out...chipped very easily, the body of the stuff was soft and cheap. The franciscan ware was china ( sort of) higher fired and much more resistant to chipping. I would sincerely if there is any danger in using it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 1:15AM
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I saw your post about Franciscan Apple while searching for information about lead content in vintage china. I would like to get an answer about my china as well (Fine Arts China - Lilac pattern), but it looks like the only reliable way to find out if a particular brand of china contains lead is to send a piece off to a lab for testing. While doing my search, I also looked for info on the history of china manufacturers in the US which led to this link...


They don't have info on the manufacturer of my china, or on lead content, but the history of Franciscan is mentioned. Thought you might be interested. :)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 4:36PM
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I'm trying to find out if Torquay pottery contains lead. I want to purchase 2 teapots but want to use them for everyday. I haven't been able to contact anyone so far who can tell me if this pottery is safe to use in the way it was intended. Does anyone out there know?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 1:15AM
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