Every city or country has a particular item that tourists feel they must buy as a souvenir— an item that says something very special and particular about the place they’re visiting. In Venice, for example, it might be a painted porcelain mask for Carnival. In Kyoto, you might want to take home a “Kyoto Doll” with full kimono and painted geisha face.
For most people visiting the Netherlands, that “must buy” item is probably Delftware, or Delft Blue pottery.
Delftware is a distinctive type of handmade pottery which is generally found in blue and white (though is available in other colours) and painted with pastoral scenes. This type of blue-painted porcelain originally began as an imitation of the Chinese porcelain that was imported into Holland in the early 1600’s, and has now become a symbol of the Netherlands in its own right.
Delftware is beautiful, instantly recognizable, and the perfect souvenir to bring home from your trip to Amsterdam. But it’s important to take care when buying it, as it’s easier than you might think to be scammed by sellers of inferior Delftware. Genuine hand-painted Delfware is for sale all over Amsterdam in specialized Delftware shops. And all of it is expensive. So when buying Delftware, be sure to go to a reputable dealer and do your research before you arrive— know what to look for in an authentic, quality piece. Even better? Avoid being disappointed and purchase Delfware directly from the workshops in which it’s made. A day-trip to Delft will assure that you get a quality item that will grace your home for years. Stop by the Royal Porcelain Factory in Delft to see vases and Delftware plates being painted in person.
Not a collector or don’t want to spend a load of money on an authentic piece of hand-painted Delftware? Don’t worry. There are plenty of imitations out there that are almost as beautiful— but a lot more affordable.