The production of Pfaltzgraff stoneware began in 1811 by George Pfaltzgraff, a German immigrant who settled in York, Pennsylvania. He began making salt-glazed jugs and crocks for food storage and later moved on to outdoor items such as flowerpots and animal feeders. When consumer needs changed during and after World War II, the company was savvy enough to switch over to dinnerware, forever changing the face of the company. While many brides to be still request Pfaltzgraff on their registries, avid collectors pursue the older pieces. You can sometimes find them at flea markets, estate sales, the occasional thrift store and on Ebay. Although new pieces are now made overseas, collectors seek vintage and antique pieces.
You can tell if your item is pre- or post-1930 merely by looking at it. Jugs and stone crocks are pre-1930. Kitchen items began in the 1930s. Muggsy ceramic comic strip gift items were created in the 1940s. Dinnerware also began in the 1940s.
Look at the back of the piece for distinguishing marks. Various "keystones," such as an engraving or stamping in the stoneware, were used in different production periods. Early pieces are marked "Pfaltzgraff Stoneware co. LTD York Penna." In the 1930s, a large "P" and "YORK" were used. In the 1960s, a keystone of the Pfaltzgraff family castle appeared on the back of the company's pieces.
If you are looking at a piece of dinnerware, certain names can be clues to age. Gourmet Oven Ware and Provincial Gourmet appeared in the 1940s and '50s. Heritage, the oldest pattern of dinnerware still in production, was introduced in 1963. The Yorktowne pattern began production in 1967.
Any metal or wood products stamped with the Pfaltzgraff symbol are pre-1970 as they were discontinued at that time.
Crocks and outdoor items, such as the flower pots, are pre-1940s production when the company switched over to indoor household items. If you wish to begin collecting Pfaltzgraff, it would be beneficial to see what books your local library offers on this company's vintage and antique pieces. One suggestion is "Pfaltzgraff: America's Potter."
Because the "Heritage" pattern is still in production today, it could be easy to mistake a newer piece for an older one.