Tag Archives: Homer Laughlin

Fiestaware 101: Part Six 1940 Promotional Campaign Refrigerator Set & Chop Plate with Metal Handle

Of the last two promotional items, one is very colorful and one is very dull. So let’s start with the colorful one, the refrigerator set. This standard Kitchen Kraft (a line of  kitchen wares produced by Homer Laughlin) item consisted of three bowls and a lid. This set is not easy to find today and complete ones command high prices. One sometimes finds the individual bowls for a good price. But the lid like most other Fiestaware lids is hard to find.

 

Promotional Fiestaware Refrigerator Set.

The way a collector dreams of finding any Fiestaware, mint in box. This set even has intact paper labels. These are the colors of the standard refrigerator set, bowls of yellow, green and cobalt with a red lid. Image from Pinterest.

 

The value of the individual bowls range from $40.00 – $50.00 and the much harder to find lid from $80 – $100. When purchasing a complete set expect to pay over $200.00 or more. The set pictured above with original box and intact labels will sell for nearly $500.00.

 

Kitchen Kraft Refrigerator Set.

The Fiesta Kitchen Kraft Refrigerator Set showing the unstacked individual pieces. Image from Vintageamericanpottery.com.

The refrigerator set would be the last promotional item offered by Fiestaware. The penultimate item was the “exciting” chop plate with metal handle. The chop plate came in two sizes, 13 inches and 15 inches. The promotional campaign offered the 13 inch chop with an attached metal and raffia handle.

The chop plate with metal handle.

13 inch chop plate in old ivory with metal and raffia handle. Second to last promotional item, 1940. Image from the collection of the author.

According to the Schiffer book Fiesta, Harlequin & Kitchen Kraft Dinnerwares, these metal handles are quite rare and have a value that is almost equal to the plate. I find it hard to believe that the handle pictured above has a value around $40.00. I purchased the set above for less than $20.00, but I think that was a fluke. Since then I have never seen another chop plate with metal handle.

1940 Fiestaware ad.

1940 Fiestaware ad featuring promotional campaign items. Image from Pinterest.

The items offered in Fiestaware’s promotional campaign marked the end of new additions to the line until one last piece in 1959. Beginning in 1940, Homer Laughlin started to eliminate items. The next installment of Fiestaware 101 will look at these 1940’s deletions.

Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, ‘Tiquen Guys)

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Fiestaware 101: Part Two 1937 – 1938.

Fiestaware Dancing Lady Logo

 

From 1937 – 1938 Fiestaware introduced new pieces, redesigned others, eliminated some and added a new color.

 

March 1937 Eliminations

 

12 inch Compartment Plate

12 inch Compartment Plate. Production Dates: January, 1936 – March, 1937

 

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.

 

Mixing Bowl Lids.

Mixing Bowl Lids. Production Dates: August, 1936 – March, 1937

 

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.

 

 

The 101/2 compartment plate. Production Dates: March, 1937 - June, 1959

The 10 1/2 compartment plate in Blue (Cobalt). Production Dates: March, 1937 – June, 1959

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.

 

 

Medium Teapot in Green. Production Dates: March, 1937 - July, 1969.

Medium Teapot in Green.
Production Dates: March, 1937 – July, 1969.

 

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).

 

 

fiesta_vintage_water_tumbler_radioactive_red_fiestaware_original

Water Tumblers. Production Dates March, 1937 – November, 1946.

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.

 

Yellow, Green and Blue Tumblers. Molded in Fiesta mark on the bottom.

Yellow, Green and Blue Tumblers. Molded in Fiesta mark on the bottom.

 

Striped Fiestaware

 

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.

Red stripe tripod candle holders.

Red stripe tripod candle holders.

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.

 

Medium Teapot, Bud Vase and Marmalade in Turquoise.

Medium Teapot, Bud Vase and Marmalade in Turquoise.

 

 

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.

 

4 3/4 inch Fruit Bowls. Production Dates: January, 1938 - November, 1959.

4 3/4 inch Fruit Bowls. Production Dates: January, 1938 – November, 1959.

 

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.

 

The very rare turquoise covered onion soup.

The very rare turquoise covered onion soup.

 

 

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

 

Fiestaware Green Ring Handle Creamer. Production Dates: July, 1938 - July, 1969.

Fiestaware Green Ring Handle Creamer. Production Dates: July, 1938 – July, 1969.

 

 

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.

 

 

Ring Handle Creamer in Red.

Ring Handle Creamer in Red.

 

 

12 inch oval platter, yellow. Production Dates: July, 1938 - July, 1969.

12 inch oval platter, yellow. Production Dates: July, 1938 – July, 1969.

 

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.

 

Green 12 inch platter.

Green 12 inch platter.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Iconic Fiestaware Disc Pitcher.

The Iconic Fiestaware Disc Pitcher.

 

 

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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Fiestaware 101: A course for beginner collectors. Part One 1936.

1937 Fiestaware Price List

1937 Fiestaware Price List. Click above to see a PDF of the entire brochure.

January, 2016 marked the 80th anniversary of Homer Laughlin’s most popular and enduring line, Fiestaware. This is the first of a series of posts about this famous dinnerware. It is intended as an overview of it history and as a guide for novice collectors. I have been collecting Fiestaware for 19 years starting with the new Fiesta because I liked its nostalgic appeal. By the time I stopped buying “Post ’86 Fiesta”, I had place settings for 20 people and many serving pieces. So it wasn’t much of a leap from the new to the old. It started innocently enough with a vintage 9 inch, light green plate purchased on Memorial Day weekend, 2000 at the Circle Drive-in Flea Market in Scranton, Pa. Little did I know how much of an obsession it would become. By the end of the day I had added three more pieces to my collection. It has become a goal of mine to acquire one piece of vintage Fiestaware in each color. I still have a long, long way to go.

 

Pre-History

 

In the late 1920’s, Bauer Pottery introduced a solid color tableware. Around 1933 they introduced a line called Ringware which proved very popular. Other California pottery companies soon started producing similar lines.

 

 

Bauer Ringware sold very well on the west coast and was making some inroads in the east, but was eclipsed by the introduction of Fiestaware in 1936. Designed by Frederick Hurten Rhead (1880-1942) in 1935, this was his crowning achievement in an illustrious career that spanned over forty years.

Born in England, Rhead immigrated to the United States in 1902 and became a manager for a small pottery company in Tiltonville, Ohio. By 1904 he was, briefly, at Weller Pottery before going over to Roseville as art director. After running his own pottery company in California from 1913 – 1917, Rhead returned to Ohio and in 1927 was hired by Homer Laughlin as art director. In 1930, perhaps as a response to the solid color dinnerware being produced in California, Rhead designed the Wells Line. Wells Art Glaze can be seen as the direct antecedent to Fiestaware. Wells pieces were matt finished in the subdued colors, unlike the bright colors used by Bauer. It was also traditional in style and would fit in nicely with the Arts and Crafts aesthetic.

 

 

Wells Art Glaze back stamp.

Wells Art Glaze back stamp.

 

Here are some pieces of Wells Art Glaze from Chris’ collection –

 

 

Homer Laughlin phased out the Wells Art Glaze line in 1935. That same year Frederick Rhead was busy creating a new solid color dinnerware line, eventually named Fiestaware.

 

The Birth of Fiestaware

 

Towards the end of 1934 Homer Laughlin was ready to begin production of a solid color dinnerware line. During the first few months of the 1935 Rhead was busy creating shapes and choosing glazes. By April the glazes under consideration were: yellow, bright red, lava red, turquoise, buff, white, green, blue, ochre and rose ebony.

 

Carafe in the Rose Ebony trial glaze. Image from laurelhollowpark.net

Carafe in the Rose Ebony trial glaze. Image from laurelhollowpark.net

 

Homer Laughlin general manager, Joseph Wells chose six colors for limited production on basic table items such as cups and saucers, plates and sugar and creamer. The colors were deep blue, rose ebony, yellow, mandarin red, turquoise and white.

 

Prototype Fiestaware Sugar & Creamer.

Prototype Fiestaware Sugar & Creamer.

In a late 1930’s Rhead wrote an article for the Crockery and Glass Journal which he described the main design theme for Fiestaware – –

 

We wanted a suggestion of a streamline shape, but one which would be subordinate to texture and color. Then the shape must be jolly and pleasant, that is, convex and curving rather than concave and  angular. There was to be no relief ornamentation.  The color must be the chief decorative note, but in order that the shape be not too severely plain we broke the edges with varying concentric bands.”

 

With the shapes and colors in development, a name was needed for the solid color dinnerware. In the first two weeks of April, 1935 the following names were in the running:

Rhumba ware; Park Lane; Rhapsody; Plaza; Faience; Tazza; Tazza Faience; Chalet Faience; Dashe Faience & Flamingo.

 

Flamingo was the name most used by Rhead. Sometime around mid-May the name Fiesta was suggested and shortly thereafter chosen. And Fiesta was the perfect name, suggesting Mexico / Southern California and the type of pottery this new line was emulating.

 

Test of a "C" shape handle and a red glaze.

Test cup with a “C” shape handle and a red glaze. Photo from Strawser Auctions.

 

Throughout the spring and summer of 1935 tests were being made on the clay, glazes and shapes. By late October the final decisions were made and the glazes chosen were, yellow, red (more orange than red), blue (referred to by collectors as cobalt), green (called light green today) and old ivory chosen to be a neutral. Out were white, rose ebony and for the moment turquoise. Now production went into high speed to be ready for its January launch.

 

 

Fiestaware 9 inch plates in the original five colors.

Fiestaware 9 inch plates in the original five colors.

 

 

When Fiestaware hit the stores in early 1936 its simple modern design and bright colors made an immediate hit. Backed by a powerful marketing campaign and a large factory for mass production, Fiestaware was available in higher quantities everywhere, compared to the products of the California potteries. At its introduction there were 42 items in the line from cups & saucers, plates, coffee pots and mixing bowls.

 

Here are examples of relish trays as sold to the retailers. These are seldom found this way today and were probably mixed and matched in the store to suit the customer’s wishes.

As this first group of items was hitting the stores, Rhead was busy on the finishing touches of the next set of pieces. Rhead and Homer Laughlin were always interested in feedback from store owners to determine what needed to be changed or added to the Fiestaware line. These items were added in August, 1936.

 

 

When collecting Fiestaware, either vintage or Post ’86, it is primarily important to know the colors and shapes. Knowing this will prevent you from being taken by pieces marked as vintage (with corresponding prices) to items that were made in the past 20 years or are still being sold today. And this can work to your advantage in finding vintage Fiesta that is being sold as new.

 

 

This brings us to the end of 1936. Part two will look at the years 1937 – 1940.

Here are some useful resources for Fiestaware collectors both seasoned and novice:

http://www.happyheidi.com/antiques/ (A great site, and where many of the photos in this post came from).

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/china-and-dinnerware/fiesta

https://www.kovels.com/price-guide/pottery-porcelain-price-guide/fiesta.html

 

Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)

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