If you know anything about fine china and setting a table, you’ve probably encountered cabbage ware. These ceramic pieces first appeared in England and have since been reimagined in various styles and colors. And they continue to be sought after.
I’ve put together a simple cabbage and lettuce ware guide for those just getting started or for those just looking for a little more information. You’ll find vintage and contemporary makers, care information, and decorating tips.
Collecting Cabbage Ware
Collecting Vintage Pieces
You can definitely thrift your way to a cabbage or lettuce ware collection. I have thrifted all of the pieces in my home so I know you can too.
In my experience, cabbage plates by Bordallo Pinheiro is most prolific. I’ve always found lone pieces here and there and I generally pick them up if they’re in good condition. My luckiest find was with a set of four bread plates for $2.99. And they still had their Marshalls sticker too.
On that note, some cabbage dishes will be vintage. Bordallo Pinheiro continues to manufacture these pieces, so it is possible to run into contemporary plates.
Bordallo has been consistent with how they produce their ceramics, so it is difficult to distinguish between old and new.
Here is a list of vintage cabbage ware manufacturers:
- Bordallo Pinheiro
- Dodie Thayer – Highly collectible!
- Fitz & Floyd
You may also find older, unmarked pieces. Or pieces with general information like “Made in Portugal.” This is fairly common for this style of ceramics.
Creating a Collection with Contemporary Pieces
If you’re not big on thrifting or you have little to no luck, you can craft your cabbage collection with contemporary pieces.
I find that there isn’t much of a difference between vintage and contemporary cabbage ware. Sure, some styles and colors are no longer produced by some brands. However, there’s a good chance you can find contemporary brands selling very similar styles.
Bordallo Pinheiro manufactures cabbage ware to this day. Their classic green colorway has not changed much from those made in the past. Therefore, you can mix old and new. You’d hardly notice a difference.
William Sonoma carries Bordallo Pinheiro as does Neiman Marcus, Wayfair, and more.
Some other contemporary makers of cabbage ware include:
I will say that cabbage ware can get pricey. I’d keep this in mind when deciding to buy vintage or contemporary.
How to Care for Cabbage Ware
Cabbage ware – and other majolica ceramics – very often acquire surface crazing. Crazing is when the glaze on a ceramic develops surface cracks.
Crazing is perfectly normal – especially when there are hairline cracks. It does not necessarily indicate a broken surface nor can you use it to determine the age of a ceramic.
However, thicker crazing may be susceptible to stuck food particles or discoloring of the surface. I wouldn’t eat off of these but using them for decor is ok.
Additionally, cabbage ware is prone to chipping. Be careful with how you store your collection. And if you don’t know whether a vintage piece has lead or not then refrain from eating off of it.
How to Treat Cutlery Marks
Unfortunately, white cabbage ware and other lighter colors are prone to cutlery marks. To reduce the appearance of them, you can use baking soda to lift the markings.
You’ll want to create a paste with baking soda and water. Then, apply the paste to the surface of the ceramic and let it sit for 30 seconds. After, scrub with a sponge.
Alternatively, you can use Bar Keepers Friend as well. Simply apply the product – powder or cream – to your dishes and let it sit for 15 seconds. Then, scrub the surface with a sponge.
How to Wash Cabbage Ware
Cabbage ware care is going to vary from maker to maker. You can definitely wash some of them in the dishwasher – Bordallo Pinheiro most certainly. If you’re unsure, you can try a delicate cycle setting. Otherwise, I’d wash the dishes by hand.
A note on Bordallo Pinheiro markings – it is common for older Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics to have washed-out markings over time. I found that newer ceramics are not prone to this.
How to Decorate with Cabbage Ware
Decorating a home with cabbage ware is common in Grandmillennial style homes.
You can put them on display in china cabinets, plate racks, or open shelves for bursts of color. Or you can group them together and create plate walls that add a pop of interest to dining rooms and kitchens.
Famed decorator Mario Buatta displayed his Dodie Thayer tureen on a coffee table. But if that’s not really your thing, I have a blog post on all the ways to display your plates on a wall. Check it out.
With all this information, you too can start your own cabbage or lettuce ware collection. Whether vintage or contemporary, these ceramics are sure to add an incredible touch to your decor.