I’ve always thought of toleware like this:


You know, a little bit country (… a little bit rock ‘n roll… no wait, I won’t break out into song)!  I think of black trays with flowers.  Pretty.  But not my style.

And then, I met this little tray:

Vintage Metal Tole Tray with Pheasants

Vintage Tole Tray Pheasants

I think the color is unique, and the pheasants are pleasant.  (Would somebody stop me, please? What is with the total corniness today?!).  I can picture this little tray as part of a gallery wall, or even styled on a coffee table.  It measures 14″ wide and 11″ tall.  It is available in the Pursuing Vintage Shop.

I was doing a little research, and I found that toleware is much more than black and floral metal trays.  I even found out that I’ve already incorporated toleware into my decor.  I have a chandelier similar to this in my bedroom:

Tole Gilt Chandelier via Pinterest


I was educated at about.com.  The site goes into detail on the history of toleware, and what it is, but here’s a quick study guide:

Toleware is typically tin that has been lacquered and decorated.  In Europe they refer to it as “Japanned”.  This process began in the early 18th century.  It was developed because the goal was to imitate Japanese decorative wares -lacquered black with gold detailing (thus calling it “Japanned”).  So, the early British pieces were on a black background, often with Asian scenes painted in gold.  Later, the French began making toleware in more colors, and varied themes (flowers, crests, etc).  Then the craft was popularized in the United States, especially in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (among other places).

Here’s a look at other items that are considered toleware, and they might convince you that you need some tole in your decor:

Toleware Pagoda Lamp


Toleware Jardinier


Toleware Tray on Faux Bamboo Stand


Tole Chandelier


Toleware Urns


Vintage Toleware Florist Buckets – Pinterest


Toleware Tray with Asian Scene


Tole Lamps via Pinterest


Tole Sconce via Pinterest


Toleware Tray Collection


What do you think of toleware?  Do you have any?  (Or are you like me and didn’t realize you had any?)  What kind of toleware is your favorite?



4 replies
  1. Barb
    Barb says:

    Tole is one of my many obsessions. I have a great Tole Chandy in my shop, that I kind of hate to sell. And oodles of great trays I stuff away in cabinets and drawers. This was a great piece on Tole. I think it is very chic!

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