Antique French Sardine Pots

Collecting Antique French Sardine Pots

Antique French Sardine Pots



Did you know that the sardine fishery is the most important fishing industry in most of France? Of course the real reason I’m writing about sardines today? You knew it had to involve antiques, right? Let’s explore the history and beauty of Antique French White Sardine Pots.


Sardines are named after the Italian island Sardinia, where large schools were once found.  Sardines were the first fish ever to be preserved, and canned.



Antique WHite Sardine Pots



History of Sardine Pots



Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte initiated a contest with a large prize {some say it was almost 12,000 francs – a fortune at the time!} to whoever could develop a way to preserve sardines, amongst other food products. He wanted to take advantage of the huge fisheries in France that caught large amounts of sardines to feed his large armies.




Antique White Sardine Pots



Historically, these sardine pots came from both France and Italy, where the sardine industry was such an important part of the culture.  The pots, or jars as they’re also called, were used for storing either dried sardines, or sardines layered with salt. In Douarnenez, Brittany, the drying method was perfected, it was the leading area for exporting sardines from France until the late 19th century.




Napoleon was offering a prize for preserving these tiny fish in a different way, because lugging these heavy pots around to the battlefront wasn’t practical. Until someone finally came up with glass canning type jars and eventually tins, these pots did the actual work for centuries in the kitchens and larders of France.




Antique French Sardine Pots




The Sardine Pot



Sardine Pots were made on a potter’s wheel of local clay, the ones I love best have two “ears” or handles on the sides.  They were glazed in a variety of light cream and soft ivory colors.




They are a fairly basic faience cylinder with a closed bottom and those two little ears on the sides.


Antique French Sardine Pots




Don’t confuse the French Sardine Pots in their stunning off-white and golden cream colors with the French mustard and green confit pots  – they were both used to preserve food but the sardine pots weren’t intended to be buried in the ground of French cellars to keep them cool.


Antique French Sardine Pots


Each one has it’s own personality, and unique wear.  I am sure they have plenty of stories to share, if only they could talk.



Antique French Sardine Pots




These days collectors love to use them in groups too in their home for a touch of history and French style.




Lots of our clients use one next to their stove for their wooden spoons and other cooking utensils.  Or to show off a topiary by their sink.





antique sardine pot




They are so decorative and attractive, I use them here at FrenchGardenHouse in our kitchen for flowers.



Fall Decorating In The Kitchen

See this table setting here >



Currently we have one large sardine pot on our table in the living room, with dried eucalyptus leaves, a few faux fall leaves and little yellow dried flower pods.







Now that we mostly buy our sardines in a tin, these French antique beauties are a sweet reminder of days gone by.



The darlings of interior designers and collectors, they have all the presence, the hand made shapes, textures and stories that the sardine pots had long ago. {and they don’t smell like sardines}



antique french cream sardine pots









You might want to pin this to your FRENCH COUNTRY or your ANTIQUES board on Pinterest.



collecting antique french sardine pots



Thank you so much for visiting me today!  It’s always exciting to learn more about antiques, it’s what makes them so interesting.



We are thrilled to have received our latest shipment of French antiques bought long ago from France.  Just in time for fall decorating.



shop sardine pots




ps. Should you love actual sardines, here are a few recipes to try 14 Reasons You Should Always Have a Can of Sardines in your Pantry >




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 above all uniquely yours. Visit our shop

8 thoughts on “Antique French Sardine Pots”

  1. i so love these pots!…I admired your pot when you made such a beautiful fall arrangement in it. Oh I so remember the days when my mom and dad would sit at the table on Friday night and have sardines and crackers … with a side of pizza.
    I can see so many beautiful ways in which to use those pots that have such history.
    Thanks for the beauty and history lesson….have a great day Lidy!

  2. What a treasured memory of your Mom and Dad eating sardines and crackers and pizza! I love that. : )

  3. noreen

    What an interesting post, love those gorgeous sardine jars!

  4. Thank you Noreen! While I don’t love Sardines, these pots I adore.

  5. Diana Lucas

    Lidy, I love your posts about the antiques you sell. I have one of these pots, have had it for years actually, and had no idea this is what it is. Thanks so much for enlightening me. I learn so much from you!

  6. Found this post to be most interesting! Love the muted color of these pots, pleasing shape and the versatility of them. I had never heard Sardine pots. Thank you!

    1. Jo, thank you for your visit. That’s what I love about antiques, they all have stories, some long forgotten. : )

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top