Toleware tin coffee pot decorated with a floral design (photo courtesy of Meander Auctions)
Ohio Life

Ohio Finds: Toleware Tin Coffee Pot

Decorating tinware with glossy Japanese-style laquer took off in Wales in the early 18th century before finding its way to the United States after the Revolutionary War. 

Taking their name from “tole peinte” (the French term for painted sheet metal), toleware items came from an attempt to mimic a glossy Japanese-style lacquer that was used to decorate tinware.

This style, also known as “Japanning,” took off in Wales in the early 18th century, and demand for the colorful, quality kitchenware soon spread to the rest of Europe. After the Revolutionary War, the demand for toleware rose in the United States as well, and the decorative motifs were applied to everything from breadboxes to caddies.

The patterns would be traced onto large, flat sheets of tin, cut out with heavy shears and bent into the desired form. The piece would then be soldered, polished and painted. German immigrants in Ohio and Pennsylvania often borrowed designs from northern European traditions and color schemes, decorating the toleware with beautiful flowers and glowing fruits in bright, cheerful reds, yellows and greens.

This piece lived in an Ohio collection for decades and was found by an Ohio antiques dealer in the Upper Ohio Valley, where these pieces were made in bulk for trade along the river.

Sold: $960

Hollie Davis is a co-owner of
Meander Auctions in Whipple, Ohio.