You never forget your first—the first time you see a piece of Cathrineholm enamelware. Mine was a royal blue teapot with white lotus leaves, and I was in love.
I wanted to learn more about these mid-century collectibles, but the Wikipedia page was blank. BLANK! So I did an internet deep-dive, scoured eBay listings and checked out a stack of library books.
Here’s what I learned about the history of Cathrineholm and how to collect the popular lotus enamelware today.
- History of Cathrineholm
- Collecting Cathrineholm Enamelware
- Where to Buy Cathrineholm Pieces
- How to Display Your Cathrineholm Collection
Note: This article contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for details.
History of Cathrineholm
The first thing you need to know: Cathrineholm was not a person. Yep, there’s no “Cathrine Holm.”
Cathrineholm was a factory based in Halden, Norway. It started as an ironworks around 1827, before transitioning to the more modern enamelware in 1907 and eventually closing down around 1972.
As an enamelware company, Cathrineholm produced a variety of dishes over the decades. Their most popular line hit the market in the 1960s: the mid-century modern lotus series.
That Magical Lotus
“White as porcelain—harder than steel!” said one advertisement.
These colorful dishes came in a range of mod colors adorned in lotus leaves. Swoon.
People have loved these for decades. But you know who didn’t love them? One of the designers.
The primary artist behind Cathrineholm’s lotus enamelware was Grete Prytz Kittelsen. She designed the dish forms and colors, and Arne Clausen designed the iconic lotus leaf that the factory added to them.
Kittelsen wasn’t bit by the lotus fanatic bug. When she was interviewed in the early 2000s for the book Grete Prytz Kittelsen: The Art of Enamel Design, she had this to say:
“I still don’t like the pattern used most frequently on items produced in the mid-1960s, Lotus. Oh, God, how I fought against those lotus leaves then!”– Grete Prytz Kittelsen
Even though she never cared for the lotus, she was happy to see that vintage Cathrineholm pieces were still in use.
Collectors can take their pick between the solid and patterned enamelware that she created for Cathrineholm. And that was only a portion of her career as a prolific designer in the Scandinavian modern movement.
Collecting Cathrineholm Enamelware
Luckily for collectors, there are lots of Cathrineholm fans preserving and reselling the vintage enamelware. Here’s what you need to know to start and expand your collection.
Check the Condition
The Cathrineholm factory polished the enamel coating off the top rim of its enamelware to help prevent chipping. While there may be minor wear and tear after 6+ decades, it’s possible to find pieces in excellent shape.
Big chips and scratches should come with lower pricing.
Inspect the Lotus Shape
If you’re buying a lotus piece, inspect the design closely.
You’ll notice the authentic lotus shape is wider toward the top and narrower on the bottom, like a leaf or petal.
I’ve seen some knockoffs listed for non-knockoff prices, claiming to be authentic. You can usually spot the reproductions when they have a lotus shape that is widest in the middle, more like a coffee bean.
Look for a Complete Piece
Sometimes the casseroles are missing a lid, the saucepans are missing a handle, or the fondue sets are missing a burner stand.
They might still be worth adding to your collection, but they should be priced accordingly. You can see what came with each piece below.
Logo or No Logo?
You’ll find the Cathrineholm logo on the bottom of some dishes, but not all. The ones without a stamped logo came with paper tags, which are occasionally included in a listing.
It’s OK if you don’t see the logo. Look for the classic forms and colors of Cathrineholm, in enamel-coated steel (or aluminum in the case of the canisters and spice cans).
Cathrineholm Lotus Color Chart
So. Many. Colors.
There are lotus dishes in black, brown, pink and nearly any color of the rainbow except purple. I have confirmed that all of the colors in this chart exist within the lotus line, though some are very uncommon.
Most of the lotus dishes have white petals on a single-color background, or single-color petals on a white background. Some come in the two-tone options of lime on lemon or turquoise blue on sky blue.
The French blue is incredibly rare, but I have seen that electric color. The more common blues are turquoise (like a country blue) and royal (like a cobalt or navy).
If you come across many red pieces, you might notice there is a dark brick red and a lighter cherry red. There is also a true orange, as well as a red orange that people sometimes mistake for red.
You won’t have a problem spotting the yellow.
The greens are more complicated.
Avocado is the common medium green. Olive is the darker kind of army green. And butterscotch is a light yellow green that goes by many names, including mustard green, tan, beige and wheat.
To further complicate things, there’s a rare lime green, and a two-tone lemon lime.
Can you tell which green is which in this photo? From left to right in the second row, it’s butterscotch, olive and avocado.
Not every piece comes in every color or combo.
Many of the brown pieces only have white lotus leaves on a brown background, but not the reverse, with the exception of the omelet pan. Black on white pieces are very hard to find and might have only been samples that were not mass produced.
According to an old Cathrineholm color chart, there might also be a vibrant apple green, a beige that’s lighter than the butterscotch, and an additional blue, but I couldn’t confirm that.
Cathrineholm Lotus Dishes
These are the dishes Cathrineholm produced for the lotus series. Some of these also came in other patterns or solid colors.
Bowls, Plates & Platters
- Bowl: 6 sizes (approximately 4-inch, 5.5-inch, 7-1/8-inch, 7-7/8-inch, 9.5-inch and 11-inch)
- Dip Set: Wood serving tray holding a matching set of three snack bowls
- Plate: 3 sizes (approximately 7-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch); has large lotus leaves that nearly meet in the middle to form a complete flower
- Scampi Dish: 8-5/8-inch serving dish; has small leaves along the rim with enamel handles on either side
Some bowls have big lotus leaves, stretching nearly from the bottom to the top of the bowl, while others have smaller lotus leaves along the rim of the bowl.
Outside of the lotus line, some bowls came in the stripe design seen below, which pairs well with the lotus.
You might find vintage porcelain plates with small lotus petals along the rim. Those could be from Lyngby Porcelain, a Danish company that licensed the lotus pattern.
Tea Kettles and Coffee Pots
- Teapot: 2 sizes (1.5-quart and 2-quart); stout, cylindrical shape and metal handle over the top
- Coffee Pot: 1.5-quart; wider on the bottom, with black plastic handle on the side
- Percolator: 8-cup; tall cylindrical shape; has lid and aluminum percolator insert
The coffee pot also functions as a tea kettle and is sometimes listed that way online.
Isn’t she a beauty?
- Saucepan: 3 sizes (1-quart, 1.5-quart and 2-quart); has lid and long handle
- Casserole/Dutch Oven: 7 sizes (1-quart, 2-quart, 2.5-quart, 3-quart, 3.5-quart, 5-quart and 8-quart); has lid and short handles on each side
- Lasagna Pan/Oven Dish: 14 x 9-inch; has optional stand
- Skillet/Frying Pan: 2 sizes (8-inch and 10-inch); has lid and long handle
- Omelet Pan: Has long handle and no lid, with a little spout on one side and lotus leaves inside the pan instead of outside like the other cookware
- Chicken Fryer: Often called the stock pot, this piece is indented along the bottom, with a lid and two short handles on each side; originally it came with a deep fryer basket inside
The lasagna pan sometimes has the lotus petals just on the front and back, and sometimes all the way around the sides as well. The stand was an optional add-on, so a lasagna pan listed without the stand isn’t necessarily incomplete.
Fondue & Warming Sets
- Lotus Fondue Set: Rounded trapezoid/gumdrop shape with lid, long handle and burner stand; optional tray add-on
- Viking Fondue Set: Spherical shape complete with lid, burner, stand and tray
- Butter Warmer: Stout little dish with handle; optional warming stand to place a candle below
The space-age-y viking fondue set was advertised with the lotus line, even though it doesn’t have the typical lotus pattern.
I imagine they included it because it looks gorgeous next to the lotus. You can find additional Cathrineholm dishes with the viking pattern to match.
Cathrineholm fondue pots are sometimes sold without the stand, or with a generic replacement stand.
There are also fondue fork add-ons that occasionally appear in listings.
Other kitchen Supplies
- Canisters: 4 sizes in complete set; made in Japan with aluminum (source)
- Salt and Pepper Shakers: Conical shape with narrow top
- Spice Cans: Cylindrical shape with lip near the top to fit in rack; optional 1-, 2- or 3-tier spice rack add-on; made in Japan with aluminum
- Ice Bucket: 2 sizes (3.5-quart and 4-quart); has lid and handle
Other Patterns and Solid-Color Enamelware
There’s a whole world of Cathrineholm enamelware beyond the lotus.
As mentioned, there are the viking and stripe designs. There’s the square design commonly called the flag, as well as the Saturn ring and Celebration stripe designs, among others.
It’s also possible to get the brightly colored enamelware, sans pattern. Try searching for Cathrineholm Holland or Cathrineholm Galloping Gourmet for solid colors.
Where to Buy Cathrineholm Pieces
You can start your collection right now if you want to drop some dollars online. Vintage resellers are stocked with Cathrineholm, but the price tags and shipping costs can be hard to swallow.
- eBay: They have a big selection rotating through all the time.
- Etsy: Choose from a number of options, as well as Cathrineholm-inspired jewelry, decor and other reproductions.
- Facebook Marketplace: For now they have less of a selection but seem to have slightly lower prices, and you can avoid shipping if you buy locally.
To score a better deal, you need patience and a hunter’s spirit—or just plain luck—to track down Cathrineholm on the ground. Here are some places to look.
- Antique Stores: This is your best bet for finding Cathrineholm offline, since many carry mid-century wares. Antique stores might be pricier than garage sales, but they are typically cheaper than online sellers.
- Garage and Estate Sales: You’ll probably find a deal if you can manage to locate Cathrineholm at a garage or estate sale. Increase your odds by looking for sales at 1950s, ‘60s or ‘70s houses that are more likely to be stuffed with mid-century goods.
- Thrift Stores: I keep searching for that once-in-a-lifetime score at Goodwill. Maybe someday!
Location plays a role, too. I’ve heard Cathrineholm was more popular in some parts of the country than in others. If your region is lacking in mid-century antiques, hit the road.
You can also join a Facebook group like this one to buy and sell Cathrineholm products and learn more about mid-century enamelware.
These days, I’d be thrilled to find a piece of Cathrineholm enamelware in good condition for under $50. They are high-quality dishes, and there’s a limited amount out there, so you have to decide what feels comfortable for you.
The best way to find the going rate for a piece is to do an advanced eBay search showing only the sold items. That way you can see what people are actually paying right now. The prices fluctuate wildly for different colors and dishes.
These are my personal guidelines for lotus shopping.
- Under $50? Buy it. If you like it and it’s in decent condition, this is a great price online, and I’d expect it to be on the lower end at a garage sale. I still see people finding pieces under $10 at thrift stores all the time…lucky souls!
- $50-100? Consider it. If you love it and it’s in good condition, this is a fair price online. There’s a big selection within this range.
- Over $100? Maybe pass on it. Unless it’s REALLY special. The $100+ listings might be worth it to someone looking for an exact color to complete a collection.
Some pieces would be very difficult to find under $100 online. For example, I think my husband ventured into the “over $100” category to track down this coffee pot for my birthday. Totally worth it.
It’s a question of whether you’d rather spend more time or more money collecting Cathrineholm.
Personally, I love the hunt! With some time and weekend thrift shopping, I hope you can collect and preserve these pieces without refinancing your house.
Cathrineholm Lotus Alternatives
In addition to the Cathrineholm products, there are other places to score a lotus. Some companies licensed the authentic lotus pattern to use on their dishes.
This plastics company produced cheerful plastic bowls in bright colors with the lotus. Perfect for your next potluck!
This Danish company used to make porcelain lotus-ware. You might be able to find their vintage dinner plates, teacups and saucers with the pattern.
A Lyngby plate has small lotus leaves along the rim vs. the large leaves on Cathrineholm plates.
Hold the phone! This Danish company is selling new lotus dinnerware NOW! They worked with Arne Clausen’s family to create this product line, so you can stock your whole kitchen.
How to Display Your Cathrineholm Collection
A few ideas…
- To stack the bowls by size with the biggest on the bottom, smallest on top, you can put something in each bowl to hold up the smaller bowl above.
- You can put the bottom bowl upside down to hold the smaller bowl above it.
- Alternatively, some people stack smallest on the bottom to biggest on the top, so the little bowls hold up the big bowls.
- The plates can make a glorious gallery wall using invisible hangers, or you can prop them up with display stands on a shelf or countertop.
- Cathrineholm products look beautiful with other mid-century enamelware and dishes, especially organized by color.
- Search #cathrineholm on Instagram for endless inspiration.
Your hutch or floating shelf is the perfect spot for a Cathrineholm display.
Or for a smaller collection, try placing pieces in their natural environment throughout the house. I have a coffee pot on my stovetop, a lasagna pan on my air fryer and a scampi dish on my coffee table.
Cleaning Cathrineholm Enamelware
I mostly stick to soapy water and a soft sponge or cloth when cleaning Cathrineholm dishes. Be gentle to avoid scratching the enamel surface, and dry everything right away to prevent rust.
Cathrineholm cookware typically comes with these removable metal ring handles around the top. This is a common spot for rust to build up.
When I bring home a casserole or saucepan, I like to carefully remove the ring and give it a good cleaning. Dry it completely, put the ring back and try to keep it dry.
Just be very careful if you decide to remove and clean the metal rings. They are snug, and they can scratch the sides of the cookware. It’s something I don’t plan to do very often, but just as needed to stop the spread of rust.
There are more vintage enamelware cleaning tips here that you might want to try for tougher stains.
Keeping the Lotus Alive
While you’re working on that collection, there are still ways to add a little lotus style to your home. Check Amazon or Etsy for prints, mugs, towels and more fun reproductions.
Did I miss anything? Do you remember seeing Cathrineholm in the ‘60s? Let me know in the comments!