Antique Tips: Guide To Fiestaware

A brief history of Fiestaware, its colors and what makes some pieces more valuable than others.

In 1936, the Homer Laughlin China Company (HLC) introduced a line of kitchen and dining ware called Fiestaware. The man who designed it was Frederick Hurton Rhead. It had a modern art deco design with bright, cheerful colors. The concentric circles were a distinguishing trademark. It was priced so that low to middle-income families could purchase it for their homes. The original line was stopped in 1969 and then a companion line sold until 1973 when it was discontinued. In 1986, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, it was reissued with new colors. Jonathan O. Parry and the HLC Art Staff are designing new pieces and adding new colors.

Originally, Fiestaware was available in eleven colors until its original discontinuation in 1969. The color names were the originals (red, ivory, cobalt blue, yellow, green and turquoise) and the fifties colors (rose, gray, forest green, chartreuse and medium green). Fiesta Ironstone, from 1970-1972) had three colors: antique gold, turf green and mango red. New Fiestaware colors (1986-present) are: cobalt, rose, white, black, apricot, turquoise, yellow, periwinkle blue, seamist green, lilac, persimmon, sapphire, chartreuse, pearl gray, juniper, cinnabar and sunflower. Newer colors are still being released, such as scarlet, which became available in late 2004.

Each color from the different periods has a certain span of years that it was/is used. With different pieces being introduced at varying times, there are periods with certain pieces in a particular color that became very hard to find. This raised their value and price. From 1939 to 1943, there was a series of promotions by HLC to increase sales. Pieces from this promotion, except for the yellow disk juice pitcher, are very hard to find. They included a French casserole dish, figure eight set and an unlisted salad bowl.

The original Fiesta Red was removed from the line in 1943 due to the U.S. government taking control over Uranium, which was a key component of glazes. Red eventually returned in 1959. In addition, medium green was the last new color added before the line was discontinued. It is this medium green that is rather a deep green that is the hardest color to find. It is the most expensive color and frequently items that are really light green are passed off as the more rare color. The color yellow has been consistent from the very beginning, but it retired in 2002. The newer Fiesta colors of lilac, sapphire and chartreuse each had a limited run and are thus hard to find.

There are many different pieces in the line, some of which are discontinued or added at varying times. Everything from vases, to various sauce and sugar bowls to plates, bowls and cooking items. For example, a medium green cream soup bowl is hard to find due to the color being introduced and at the same time, this type of bowl was discontinued. Take some time to educate yourself before purchasing vintage Fiestaware and even newer pieces. There are many web sites, books, chat groups for the dedicated and newcomer alike to Fiestaware.

© High Speed Ventures 2011