Fiestaware or just plain Fiesta, as it is known and loved by many avid collectors, is a twentieth century collectible. It is mainly a U.S. collectible. Fiestaware was introduced in 1936 by the Homer Laughlin Pottery Company. It was designed by an Englishman, Frederick Rhead. He worked for Roseville Pottery and had his own pottery company before designing Fiestaware for Homer Laughlin. Some consider it the most popular American dinnerware ever. But the new bright colors certainly changed what had been the standard in dinnerware before the introduction of Fiestaware. The line had a distinctive Art Deco look that was so popular at the time. This article will also discuss the new Fiestaware and you can find the best prices here.
The First Fiestaware
Homer Laughlin introduced Fiestaware with 34 pieces initially. There were five colors, Red (it looked more orange), Blue (sometimes called cobalt blue), Yellow, Green, and Old Ivory. Although not the first company to sell solid colored dinnerware, they were definitely the most widely accepted. Here is a list of the first 34 pieces.
6”dinner plate 5” fruit bowl ashtray
7”dinner plate 6” dessert bowl sweets compote
9”dinner plate 8 ½” nappy bulb candle holders
10”dinner plate 9 ½” nappy tripod candle holders
10”divided plate set of 7 mixing bowls large teapot
12”divided plate covered casserole coffee pot
13” chop plate cream soup demitasse pot
15” chop plate covered onion soup bud vase
teacup and saucer 12” comport stick handled creamer
demitasse cup and saucer salt and pepper shakers carafe
footed salad bowl sugar bowl ice pitcher
Fiestaware Made Many Changes
I am not going to try and list each and every change that Homer Laughlin made with the Fiestaware line. There are some excellent reference books available with full pictures and descriptions. Here is a link for several good reference books at the best prices. Many of the early pieces will not be marked, so do not be alarmed if you find a piece that is not marked. Some of the first pieces had marks indented into the pieces. The ink stamp came later. But that is where a good reference book is handy to have.
Changes were made even within the first year. The 12”compartment plate was dropped and modifications were done to several pieces. You can imagine how hard it is to find the original pieces before they were modified. The turquoise color was added in 1937. During the next five years many more pieces were added and a few dropped. Because of World War II, uranium was need by the government and the popular red color, which used uranium in its production, was discontinued from 1943 to 1959 when it was reintroduced.
The war years saw many more pieces being eliminated from the line. The fall of 1951 saw the introduction of several new colors. Green, ivory, and cobalt were eliminated from the line to make way for the new colors. Gray, chartreuse, rose, and forest green gave a new look to the Fiestaware pottery line. Some pieces in these new colors can command high prices because of their relatively short life compared to the other colors. The end of the 50’s saw the reintroduction of red and also the addition of medium green. One of the things people who collect Fiesta enjoy the most is the mixing of colors to give a fun, festive look to their table settings.
The sixties saw the beginning of the end of Fiesta pottery, at least the original Fiestaware. Homer Laughlin completely redesigned the entire line in 1969 and put out ironstone. They only kept nineteen pieces. They retained the popular red, and added Antique Gold and Turf Green. But, whether it was just losing its appeal, or whatever, the line was shut down in 1972. But because of a rise in the popularity of the Art Deco look, Fiesta became popular on the secondary market. The growing baby boomer generation were starting to have their own homes and started buying the discontinued pottery. By the mid 80s many pieces were commanding some pretty high prices. Homer Laughlin noticed this continued rise of prices on the secondary market.
In 1986, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Fiesta, the new contemporary Fiesta was reintroduced and is still in production today. You can find it in many department stores and can find some great prices here online. I hope you enjoyed the article and you can find many others on this site, Buying and Selling Antiques. Whether you are a fan of the original Fiestaware or the contemporary style, it is a fun dinnerware to mix and match.