This little yellow plate was purchased at an antique store in Oregon in 2018. While there is not a maker’s mark on the back of the dish, the store owner had researched the plate and came up with this description: Vintage Yellow Ceramic Harlequin by Homer Laughlin Co. Fiesta Plate, c. 1938-1960
When tested with an XRF instrument this dish was positive for the following elements at the noted levels (in parts per million):
- Lead (Pb): 287,600 +/ 21,000 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 2,311 +/- 723 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 11,500 +/- 900 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 1,239 +/- 200 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 111 +/- 74 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 464 +/- 242 ppm
The amount of lead that is considered toxic in a newly manufactured item intended for use by children is anything 90 ppm lead or higher in the coating or 100 ppm lead or higher in the substrate (per the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).
A lead level of 287,600 parts per million in a plate that is intended to be used as every day dishware is VERY concerning! I would not use these plates for food-use purposes under any circumstances (even, for example, limited holiday use.)
Vintage Homer Laughlin/ Fiestaware pieces tend to all be VERY high lead. New pieces from this company that are marked “lead-free” on the bottom are either negative for lead (ND/ non-detect) or very low lead (generally under 100 ppm) when tested with an XRF instrument.
There is no regulatory standard for lead for dishes when tested with an XRF instrument. Standards like “Prop 65” compliance or “leach testing” do not have minimum or maximum safety limits for how much lead can legally be in a modern dish (or vintage dish for that matter) when tested with an XRF instrument. The XRF generally tests the amount of lead (total lead content) in the top layers of the item it tests, so in the case of dishware XRF readings are generally reflective of how much lead is likely in the glaze.
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