From 1937 – 1938 Fiestaware introduced new pieces, redesigned others, eliminated some and added a new color.
March 1937 Eliminations
As mentioned in the first Fiestaware post, designer Frederick Rhead and Homer Laughlin executives listened carefully to suggestions from store owners. One being that the 12 inch compartment plate was too large and heavy for easy use. It was eliminated after being in stores for only 14 months. Even though it had a short production life and is a bit hard to find today, the 12 inch compartment plate only has a book value of $52.00 to $78.00 and can usually be found for less.
Removed from the Fiestaware line at the same time were the mixing bowl lids. These never sold well, probably because they cost almost as much as the bowls they were made for. Having been produced for only seven months the lids are among the rarest pieces of Fiestaware and have a corresponding high value. Mixing bowl lids sell between $900.00 for the smallest for the No. 1 bowl and $1,200.00 for the No. 4 bowl lid (the largest size in production). Lids for the three largest bowls were modeled and tested but never put into regular production.
March, 1937 Additions
Another rare piece of “Fiestaware” is the cake plate. I’ve used quotes around Fiestaware because there is speculation if it was produced for the line or for the Royal Metal Manufacturing company, to be sold with a chrome metal base. Lending credence to this confusion is the fact the cake plate was never listed on any Fiestaware price list.
The cake plate looks very much like the 10 inch dinner plate, except that it is completely flat and the underside has many more rings. In fact this piece has more rings than any other piece of Fiestaware. Introduced in March of 1937 and discontinued in less than a year, the cake plate is only found in the original five colors of Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Old Ivory. I’ve only seen this piece for sale a couple of times since I started collecting vintage Fiesta and each time the it was over $1000.00.
To replace the 12 inch compartment plate, Homer Laughlin scaled it down to 10 1/2 inches and it proved to be a success. This version stayed in the Fiestaware line for 22 years. The book value for these plates which can be found in the original five colors, turquoise and the 1950’s colors, is between $40.00 and $95.00. With some hunting and luck most of these plates can be purchased for about $25.00.
The medium sized teapot (6 cups) is another item that was introduced thanks to suggestions from retailers and complaints that the 8 cup teapot was too big and hard to handle. It is called medium, because a smaller two cup teapot was modeled but never went into production. Characteristics of the medium teapot to differentiate it from the large teapot is the “C” handle, a more pronounced spout and a slip cast lid and finial (the same style finial found on the mustard jar). The medium teapot is found in all 11 vintage Fiestaware colors. Values for this piece $200.00 for the original five colors, $165.00 for the turquoise, $300.00 for the colors of the 1950’s and $1,600.00 for medium green (a color introduced in 1959 and is the rarest of all Fiesta colors).
Water tumblers were only in production for 9 years which is the reason that they are somewhat hard to find. The book value for water tumblers range from $60.00 – $75.00. When they are found, the prices are not too much lower than the book values.
Fiestaware is famous for its solid, bright colors, but in 1937 Homer Laughlin brought out a line with stripes. Using pieces only in the ivory color, they were decorated with either red or blue stripes. Since the stripes were applied before the final glaze, when found today they show very little signs of wear. This line of Fiesta apparently was not popular and discontinued within a year. These pieces are very rare and have a correspondingly high price when or if found in antique stores or at auctions. For example, ivory tripod candle holders have a book value of $650.00, but the pair with red stripes, pictured below, recently sold at auction for just over $13,000.00.
Personally I have never run across any, but I would love at add a few of these striped pieces to my collection.
January, 1938 Additions
Turquoise becomes the sixth Fiestaware color. Back in 1935, Turquoise was in the running but from the line up. In the fall of 1937 it was decided to add it and by January of 1938 it was in the stores. Turquoise had the second longest run of any Fiestaware color, 32 years. It was only surpassed by yellow, but just by one year. As a result Fiesta items in these two colors are the most easily found.
Another retailer suggestion was a smaller sized fruit bowl and the 4 3/4 inch bowl was the answer. Stylistically is matches its larger counterpart the 5 1/2 fruit bowl and the 8 and 9 inch nappy bowls. The small fruit bowl remained in the Fiestaware line for almost 22 years, being discontinued in November, 1959. These bowls can be found for around $20.00 – $25.00 (and sometimes for even less) in the 1930’s – 1950’s colors. The 4 3/4 inch fruit bowl was only in production for five months after the medium green color was introduced in June of 1959 and the value jumps significantly to about $600.00.
The 11 3/4 inch fruit bowl was originally planned for Homer Laughlin’s Kitchen Kraft line as a salad bowl. The switch to the Fiesta line required a slight change of design and instead of being plain on the inside, the familiar concentric rings were added to the bowl and the Fiesta molded in mark was placed on the bottom.
Even though this piece was in production for nearly 9 years, it is not easy to find today. And as such has a correspondingly high book value, $305.00 for a yellow one on the low-end up to $360.00 on the high-end for a red or cobalt.
The sauce-boat is one of the few serving pieces that once it made it into production was always part of the line. After Fiestaware became Fiesta Ironstone in 1970 the sauce-boat was still being produced, but in only three colors and minus the molded in mark on the bottom. It has also been part of the post ’86 Fiestaware line. Since 1997 an “H” was added to the mark on the bottom of pieces to help them from being confused for vintage Fiestaware. But knowing your colors will be your best defense from buying a new piece at vintage prices. Most sauce-boats are found in the $40.00 – $75.00 dollar range with the elusive medium green one selling for over $200.00.
January, 1938 Elimination
The one piece eliminated from the Fiestaware line at the beginning of 1938 was the covered onion soup bowl. This bowl must have been just too formal for the casual dining atmosphere that Fiestaware and the other solid color dinnerware lines were striving to create. The combination of not selling well to begin with and a short production life has made the covered onion soup a very hard to find and very expensive piece to add to a collection. The value of this piece in the original five colors usually ranges between $400.00 – $700.00. Because of being discontinued around the same time that turquoise glaze was introduced, very few onion soups are found in this color. The book value for turquoise onion soup is $6,000.00 – $7,000.00 and some have sold for over $10,000.00.
July, 1938 Elimination
The stick handle creamer was the only item eliminated from the line in July 1938 being replaced by the ring handle style creamer. One reason that was given for the change was that the stick handle creamer was somewhat difficult for left-handed people to use. The book value ranges from $43.00 (yellow) – $65.00 (red, cobalt & ivory). Because turquoise stick handle creamers were only in production for 7 months it has a higher value at $79.00.
July, 1938 Additions
The stick handle creamer was restyled using the same body but having the iconic ring handle applied. This piece is available in all 11 vintage Fiestaware colors and is easy to find between $25.00 – $40.00. The exception is medium green; expect to pay around $100.00 for that one.
In production for 31 years the oval platter is easy to find in all colors. As with all medium green pieces, expect to pay a premium price of around $165.00. The other colors are in the $35.00 – $60.00 price range.
Perhaps the most iconic piece of Fiestaware, the “disc water pitcher” was not originally part of the line. Added to the line in July of 1938, it is still in production today and is available in all Fiesta colors, vintage and post ’86. Aside from color one way the easiest way to distinguish a vintage disc pitcher from a modern one is to look inside where the handle joins the upper rim, vintage ones are smooth whereas the newer pitchers have a distinct dimple. Although a relatively common piece values range from $110.00 – $165.00 for the original six color. The fifties colors range $230.00 – $255.00 and the medium green top them all at $1,550.00.
Only 31 years to go (you lucky people). Part three of Fiestaware 101 will look at the 1939 – 1943 promotional campaign.
Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)
For Part One click here.
Photos: Personal collection, Vintage American Pottery, Strawser Auction, Replacements and Pinterest.
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