Dishware from ancient civilizations.
A style even older than porcelain, stoneware is a type of pottery or ceramic that has been fired at high temperatures. It is similar to earthenware, a simple, pourous ceramic that has been used since prehistoric times, and can be made from clay and many of the same materials. The difference in classification depends on how much water the dishes can absorb (more than 3% of its weight for earthenware, and less than 3% for stoneware). Stoneware was commonly used for utilitarion wares such as jugs, storage jars, electric insulators, pots, and oil laps, some of which can be seen in the accompanying image.
Depending on how it's made, stoneware can be vitreous or semi-vitrious. Vitreous stoneware will be impermeable to water, but semi-vitreous stoneware would require a glaze to prevent water or food wastes from being soaked up. Vitrification makes modern stoneware more durable than earthware, and tends to have a good weight and price. Most restaurants that don't use porcelain dinnerware use this type, as it is very reliable.