Cathrineholm of Norway – Lotus Pattern Enamelware

Cathrineholm Shelves Jan 17, 2013
Cathrineholm Shelves Jan 17, 2013

Cathrineholm of Norway Enamelware – Lotus Pattern I found a Cathrineholm of Norway, white on blue, tea kettle with the lotus pattern a few years ago at an antique store for $10.   I vaguely remembered it as a pattern seen during my childhood, but I also knew at the time it was fetching quite high prices by collectors on ebay.  Regrettably (now) I sold that teakettle on ebay for a tidy sum, x15 what I paid.  The only upside was I sold it to a lady in Norway and I liked the idea of the piece going back to its home turf.  I adored the teakettle and was torn about selling it, but at the time thought I don’t drink tea, it’s the only piece I own, it seems quite expensive to buy off ebay, so I might as well just sell it and get some money to buy something I do collect. A few weeks later my boyfriend went to an estate sale and dug up a small Cathrineholm (CH) red on white lotus pattern 4 inch bowl.  He woke me up that Saturday morning by presenting it to me and from that moment on I was hooked.  I had never seen or handled one of the bowls and was amazed at the quality.  I didn’t realize the bowls were enamelware too, in fact almost everything produced with the lotus pattern is enamelware, and something about substance and durability of them being glass over metal really captivated me.  It probably has something to do with living in such a plastic filled world, holding something made to last – and made to last a long time – holds a lot of appeal for me.

Black and White Cathrineholm
Black and White Lotus Pattern on a small serving dish

So from that morning on I started to collect Cathrineholm and I have learned a good deal about the company as a result.  The company was founded in 1907 and closed in 1968.  One of their most famous designers was Grete Prytz Kittelsen (born 1917 in Oslo, Norway, died 2010) but contrary to what you will read many places Grete did not design the Lotus Pattern, though she probably was responsible for the shape and bodies of the pieces the lotus pattern appears on.  Grete created many pieces for Cathrineholm but she favored a more minimalist look, using solid primary colors contrasted by exposed metal.  But she did not much care for the lotus pattern when it was introduced. In reality the lotus pattern was created by Arne Clausen, a decorator working at Cathrineholm in the 1960’s.  Legend has it a series of designs was test marketed among some Norwegian housewives and they overwhelmingly favored the Lotus pattern enamelware so into production it went and it became a signature line of Cathrineholm. The pieces come in a variety of forms, from plates, to bowls, to cookware, to canisters to fondue sets.  Strangely the large kitchen canisters (for coffee, flour, sugar, etc..) and spice rack canisters were not produced by the Cathrineholm factory in Norway.  The canisters were produced in Japan and are made of aluminum. I think CH contracted out these pieces to a company in Japan to save costs and maybe because enamelware was not suited well to storage canisters.  I’m not sure of all the details yet but I own a set of the large canisters and I’m doing more research into the subject.  I’m only aware of the Japanese origin due to some of the canisters retaining a “Japan” sticker and the fact they are made of aluminum makes them stand apart from the enamelware line.

Cathrineholm aluminum canisters, made in Japan.
Cathrineholm aluminum canisters, made in Japan.

The salt and pepper shakers with the lotus pattern are extremely rare and there are two types and I’m not sure either were produced at the CH factory either.  One type is a almost lotus/bullet shaped shaker with a small lotus pattern at the bottom and the top being a long, slender chrome triangle.  Another Norwegian company produced the exact same shakers, only without the lotus pattern, so I’m thinking CH may have just contracted with them to produce some with the lotus pattern but I’m still trying to confirm this.  But of the two types, these are the most likely to be from the CH factory and are the hardest to find.

The first type of lotus shakers probably produced in Norway, but possibly by another company.
The first type of lotus shakers probably produced in Norway, but possibly by another company.

The other shaker looks much like the spice canister, only with the holes at the top as shaker instead of a lid, and were produced in Japan. I’m thinking the Norwegian bullet shaped shakers came first and then later on when they contracted with the Japanese company to do the canisters they went ahead and made shakers too. There are several weird little issues with Cathrineholm  lotus pieces.  Some pieces are marked with the Cathrineholm logo on the bottom, some are not.  Different logos are used on various pieces.  I hope to try and figure out the timeline involved with the marks, if they were marked early on in production or later.  The fact American company started producing a series of plastic bowls that imitated the lotus pattern may have spurred Cathrineholm to start marking their pieces, but this is just my theory so far.

Cathrineholm mark
Cathrineholm logo as it appears on the bottom of some bowls.

The lotus pattern pieces are usually brightly colored, but were later available in the more earthy tones that were coming into vogue as the 1970’s drew near. (Remember the three standard kitchen colors used on appliances in the 1970s – avocado, gold and rust?) .  Mostly the lotus pattern pieces are  white/contrasted with a color – as in a white lotus pattern on blue background or blue lotus pattern on a white background but there were some pieces made that used color on color, such as a deep blue lotus pattern on a light blue background. The colors I’m aware of that were produced are as follows, contrasted with white unless otherwise noted: Bright Orange Green Bright Yellow Wheat Yellow Red Navy Blue Sky Blue Pink Black Sage Rust / Brown Sky Blue on Pastel Blue Green on pastel lime green From my experience the rarest color, or hardest to find color for cathrineholm lotus pattern, is pink.  True red is also a difficult to find color.  Many people sometimes mistake the bright orange used by CH as “red” but it is not and orange is one of the more common and popular colors. The Cathrineholm bowls came in a variety of sizes, six in all, and were made to nest into each other for storage.  The smallest bowl is mere 3 inches and seems to be for dips or sauces.  The largest bowl is a whopping 11 inches.  The exact measurements for all the lotus bowls in from smallest to largest in order are 3-7/8″, 5-1/2″, 7-1/8″, 7-7/8″, 9-1/2″, 11″

All the sizes of the Cathrineholm bowls available in the lotus pattern.
All the sizes of the Cathrineholm bowls available in the lotus pattern in the following order and sizes: 3-7/8″, 5-1/2″, 7-1/8″, 7-7/8″, 9-1/2″, 11″

I’ll be posting more photos in the next several days of the different pieces available in the line but you get a pretty good idea from the top photo that shows many pieces displayed on the shelves.  The pieces not shown in the photo are some of the cookware pans such a saute pans, double boilers, skillets, baking/lasanga pan of which I have examples of to post later if I get around to it.  One very neat little aspect of the pots and pans is the lids acting a trivets for serving.

2016 Update:  Well, I’ve moved into a new (mid century modern) home with a much larger kitchen so my display of Cathrineholm pieces has drastically changed.  Since the kitchen is wrap around and large it’s hard to capture it in a photo, but here is one section where I have a lot grouped together (along with some Jen Quistgaard enamelware pieces for Dansk).  I’ve also been able to use the tops of my cabinets all around my kitchen to display all of my CH cookware, much of which had been tucked away in cabinets until the move. The white kitchen cabinets and countertops compliment the lotus pattern and bold colors perfectly.

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Add yours →

  1. What a great post! I’m a huge Cathrineholm fan. I was recently gifted a Cathrineholm ice bucket that friends found at an estate sale for $1 (yes please!). Looking forward to following your finds. 🙂

  2. Great post, will save in my bookmarks for Cathrineholm reference 🙂

  3. Love this! Wonderful information, too. I just scored a vintage black and white Cathrineholm ice bucket in mint condition on Etsy. I got it for WAY to cheap; I don’t think the seller knew what she had. I’m in LOVE with it!

  4. Yay! for finding you and your wealth of valuable info. I’ve just got my first [ I hope] Cathrineholm tea kettle. Its not marked, it has the teflon bottom but the quality is so great i think it must be hers? Did yours have a logo on it? I really cant afford another collection, especially this one but it is so divine. Your cluster is absolutely stunning. And that light is awesome too. Cheers

    • Thanks. Depending on which style kettle the Cathrineholm logo can be found on the bottom (and I’ve had kettles where it almost invisible from being use on the stove and blackened) or in the interior of the lid near on the bottom metal pull handle. But rest assured if it has the lotus pattern, and it’s enamelware, it’s no doubt Cathrineholm production. A company in NJ at one point imitated the lotus pattern, but it produced it on plastic items. Good enamelware is difficult and expensive to produce, so no worries about knock-offs (yet). Congrats on your find.

    • Hi. Actually your tea kettle probably is marked – in the center on the bottom. Look closely. Because it blackens with use it can fade and be nearly impossible to detect. However, if the kettle is enamelware and has the lotus pattern rest assured it is Cathrineholm.

  5. does every Cathrineholm product have a name brand? I seem to have acquired some bowels that do not have the name on the bottom

    • No, not all are marked. As I said in my post if it is enamelware with a lotus pattern it’s CH. Enamelware is extremely expensive to produce, it’s why you haven’t seen CH reproductions in the original enamelware – too expensive. You can however find repros in plastic and now ceramic.

  6. I became very confused when you said Catherineholm stopped production in 1968. I have a 10″ navy/white lotus plate with a white signature on the back that says “COMPLIMENTS OF CATHERINEHOLM January 11, 1971”. It was presented to the founder of the KitchenBazaar stores, who carried Catherineholm items. Are you sure about the dates?

  7. The salt and pepper are made in Denmark by Lyngby porcelen factory. They also made cups, plates etc.

  8. Enjoyed the post! Thx very much. Hoping someone can answer this CH question:
    Did Catherineholm produce lotus pattern dinnerware in a shade of green somewhat lighter than the avocado?

    I recently purchased a set of 6 dinner plates and 6 shallow bowls with rim handles from an estate sale and all have white lotus leaves on green background, but the background shades of green are different. Is it possible they’re authentic CH? Plates have stamped logo, bowls do not.

  9. Thank you for the information. I found a VERY large CH white and orange covered pot- (8 quart) at a garage sale a few weeks ago. I paid $2.00 for it. It is in decent condition. Unfortunately it did not come with the metal handle. I have searched High and Low to no avail. Do you have any connections for the handles? Any information would be appreciated. I am now a huge fan and will begin my search for CH along with millions of other things I collect 🙂 Thank you

  10. Hello. Have you or anyone else seen a photo/color start? Like with all the color names and images?

  11. Hi! I recently purchased 2 dansk enamal pots and would like to add a CH bowl. I have notice other patterns besides the lotus pattern that are not marked. Are you familiar with other patterns produced by CH?

  12. Hello all! Enjoyed your post and agree that a collection starts with one piece! I just acquired a yellow 7 1/2 inch CH lotus dish. Can you tell me why the white flower is not visible but only the impression of it? Is it possible that it got scrubbed off or peeled off? It is almost like the flower has a ‘matte’ finish where the dish is shiny. Any light you can shed would be appreciated.

    • It sounds like your piece was heavily used and the pattern has been destroyed/worn away. You find this most often with the cooking dishes due to being used in the oven and/or stoves, but even plates were “oven safe” so they sometimes have the damage as well. (Greasy foods at high temps in the oven really destroy things over time) If you only see the “impression” of the pattern it’s most likely the piece saw a lot of heavy use and it has damaged the finish and removed much of the white on the original pattern. It’s sad because it’s great to find piece, but if they are damaged (enamel cracked/chipped) or pattern has been destroyed via heavy use, there’s nothing you can do for it, no way to repair it. Enamelware is heavy duty stuff, but some people are very hard on their cookware and the damage over the years can destroy it. Luckily it seems like many people saved the CH for special occasions or didn’t subject to to rough use and many wonderful pieces have survived in very good condition. Small chips or flea bites to the enamel seem to be the biggest problem or “flaw” you will find on most pieces, esp around the rims on bowls.

      • Tinyarmada,
        I just now saw your reply and want to thank you for taking the time to explain in detail what possibly could have happened. Since then, I have acquired two new pieces. One is a gorgeous black/teal saturn bowl with the teal interior, and the other is a small avocado green bowl with the white lotus pattern . Yippee! A collection has to start somewhere:) The saturn bowl is pristine with two tiny flea bites. However, the interior of the green bowl looks like someone stirred for hours in the bowl! Any suggestions on how to remove this ‘stain’?

  13. I have the 4qt sage/white bowl in great condition. I would love to trade for the 4qt saucepan with lid.

  14. In a basement cleanup, I recently came upon several of the CH pots in the pattern of the blue and white one that you have shown on top of the your white cabinet (one is the exact pot) All the pieces have silver handles. Do you know if the whole pot, with handles, can go into the oven? I am in my 80s and it has been quite a while since I have used them, but I would like to pass them on to my grandkids, if they are indeed oven proof. I’d so appreciate any info you may have re. this issue. MANY THANKS! – Ellen

    • Hi Ellen: Yes all almost CH pots are oven-proof and definitely the ones with silver handles are fine for the oven, stove top and fridge. (Only skillets with wood handles would not be for oven use) CH pots are great to pass along to your grandkids. CH are very high quality, something you don’t find much of in today’s cookware, and one of the reasons people seek them out today.

      • How very kind of you to answer so promptly! My pots are in perfect condition and I know they will be appreciated for many years to come – now that I have your response. Many, Many Thanks!
        I wish you the sweetest of new years!

  15. Hi, thanks for your info, it is a great resource for collectors. I would love to have a larger collection but, here in Australia, pieces are rarely found. I only have 3 yellow bowls (diameter 14cm) with white lotus which are 2cm long. Do you know if the small lotus were produced at a different time and also would my bowls have been a set? Thank you!

    • HI: The diameter measurements have me a little confused. There are 15.25 cm cereal bowls and then quite 10 cm bowls for serving dips, nuts, etc.. Some bowls small lotus patterns around the top rim, those usually the serving bowls and they were sold in sets of three and came with a small teak tray that they set on.

      Here’s a photo of the bowls with the teak tray:

      The small serving bowls were sold as a trio. I believe the cereal bowls were sold in sets of four and the mixing bowls could be purchased individually but most people seemed to have purchased them as nesting sets.

  16. Thank you for posting. I was wondering if I might ask a use question. I’ve seen so many articles on the internet about just using this for display, but that seems like a waste!
    Can I use these old covered dutch ovens by Cathrineholm in the oven (as long as there is no rust present)?

    • Of course, it’s very high quality cookware. Though dutch ovens are usually used on stove tops any of the cathrineholm enamelware can be used safely in the oven, except those skillets with wood handles. You can even put the plates and bowls in the oven. Some people who collect them don’t want to use them for fear of the wear and tear cooking with them can cause. I tend to save pristine pieces I own for display only, but the pieces I have that already show a bit of wear and tear from years of cooking I use as my everyday cookware. I use my Cathrineholm casserole dishes, sauce pans and skillets everyday in my kitchen.

  17. Hello! I have a Catherineholm small pot with metal handle. It is white with what I would call a purple lotus design. I have seen the pink design in photos only, and they look pink not purple. Have you ever heard of or seen a purple on white design because I can’t find a reference for it anywhere? Thank you for any help you can give.

    • I’m not aware of any CH enamelware in true purple. They did make pink on white pieces.

      There is also a good deal of variation in the shades of the enamel colors the company produced over the years. For instance I have several yellow pieces, some are a bright sunshine yellow and others a darker harvest gold yellow. Ive seen a few “pink” pieces that look closer to lavender or mauve (to my eye) than a pink. Then I’ve seen very true bubble gum pink pieces.

      If your piece is enamelware it’s also possible that being subjected to high temps in the oven or stove could have darkened the pink color. Plenty of people subjected their CH cookware to pretty extreme temperatures when using them and I have seen some major color fade and shade differences due to this.

      There have also been several companies that have imitated and made items using the same CH lotus pattern in recent years but none using enamelware – they tend to be ceramic or lighter cheaper materials. (One company did a line of ceramic ware and Target is even producing lamps with the exact lotus pattern design)

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