Secret Life of Antiques | Tole Peinte


An antique piece of French toleware is a one-of-a-kind objet d’art, of high quality, with plenty of personality and style. Hand cut from tin then hand painted, French toleware metal trays, urns and baskets cast an undefinable attraction. I’m always excited when I have a collection of these gorgeous pieces of French history to share with you!


Colorful, decorative and serviceable all at once, antique toleware is a beautiful way to surround yourself with things you love, and create a home that authentically expresses your style.


Painted with considerable skill by artists, toleware is typically decorated with bouquets of flowers. Antique toleware is a delight to both decorator and collector, it honors the past, and is often handed down from generation to generation.





What is Toleware?
Toleware refers to decorative objects made of tinned metal, then lacquered and adorned with a design, dating from 1600 – 1900. From the French ‘taule’ an early French word for table – tole was for table use, and peinte du lac – French for ‘painted sheet metal’. Tole peinte refers to applying paint and lacquer to tin, it was a way to prevent common household objects from rusting.


The French had their own version of Tole Peinte. Using a superior varnish named vernis martin, they designed and created true tole objects often using bright colored backgrounds. Elegant and bit more sophisticated, the French painters elevated the tole pieces they produced into works of art. Stately urns, jardinieres (plant pots), boxes, and trays were produced and carefully and masterfully hand painted by French artists.




A toleware collection is an infallible way to add elegance, color, history and warmth to your home.


A collection of Toleware trays hung on a wall, a grand scale tole tray displayed over your mantel, or a beautiful tray in your favorite color on your coffee table with flowers and a candle on it add beauty and a personal touch to your interior. Antique Tole pieces can elevate your house to ‘home’ status.


Trays and pieces without damage, or without damage on the hand painted florals or designs are getting quite rare to find. If you find one that captures your heart, you’ll experience coupe de foudre…or Love at First Sight!



Not quite as old as the toleware above, this cachepot, or perhaps a waste can, was hand painted in France in the early 1900’s for import to the states.


Amazing quality! Wouldn’t your topiary or rolls of silk fabrics look amazing in this?



Anytime I can find these early 1900’s pieces, in any kind of good condition, I’m in!  For those of you who love the unusual, and then…aqua {!!} this is an amazing decorating jardiniere.



Creating a beautiful home, or adding to your collection, these antique toleware pieces are up to the job.  Your home is your canvas that evolves as you do, reflect your passions, and improve the quality of your life. Adding antiques with history, quality and a storied past is a wonderful way to express yourself at home.

SHOP my current antique tole.
Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop

5 thoughts on “Secret Life of Antiques | Tole Peinte”

  1. Ginger J Valdes

    Oh, Lidy! The oval pale green with roses tray wants to come live with me badly, and rest on my bed with my favorite magazines. What a wonderful life she would have! Please let her know how so very sorry that she’s not within my budget, but That I love her dearly and hope she finds another loving home.

    1. Shirley, sometimes there is a signature, or a “France” painted delicately on the back in gilt. But more often than not, it’s the way they are made, and the extreme high quality of the painting that shows the pieces are French. While there are many trays being called “French”, once you have seen many authentic French tole ware pieces, you will recognize them!

  2. Chanda


    I learnt a lot about tole trays from your site.

    I recently bought my first tray on online. It had beautifully delineated flowers with lovely colours. When it arrived I found the colours rather subdued.

    How is it possible to tell if trays sold online are photographed in natural lighting ie. indoors or under studio conditions ie. with spotlights or photoshop colour enhancements etc..

    I would like to buy more gradually but feel bit hesitant.
    I would appreciate your advice.

    Thanks a lot!

    With regards

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