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A Beginners Guide to Collecting Fiestaware

Fiestaware is a popular tableware brand found in many homes today, but it got its start in 1936. Designed by Frederick Hurten Rhead for the Homer Laughlin Company, these bright and colorful plates, bowls, and saucers are popular amongst collectors and are a fun find at estate sales in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, and Seattle.

If you’re looking to get started, let’s learn a little more about this beautiful and fun collectible.

How Fiestaware got its start.

This art deco-inspired dinnerware was launched in 1936 and quickly became a fan favorite. The original five Fiesta colors were Green, Cobalt Blue, Yellow, Red, and Ivory. A year after the Fiesta line debuted, the company added a sixth color: turquoise.

Fun fact, Fiestaware took a hiatus in production from 1973 to 1986 due to poor sales.

What’s in a name?

When it came to deciding a name for the now-iconic Fiestaware, names like Rhumba ware, Park Lane, Rhapsody, and Plaza were all in the running as possibilities.

But when Fiesta was offered as a suggestion, it was quickly chosen as thanks to its ability to conjure the Mexican/Southern California vibe this line of pottery was going for.

An Instant Success

When Fiesta hit the shelves in early 1936, it became an instant favorite. A powerful marketing campaign, and robust approach to production made this new tableware option readily available. This is in sharp contrast to competitors, who didn’t place the same focus on production.

At its introduction, there were 42 items in the line from cups & saucers, plates, coffee pots, and mixing bowls.

Rare Fiesta

Fiesta is famous for its solid, bright colors, but Homer Laughlin did feature a line with stripes. Using pieces glazed in ivory they were decorated with either red or blue stripes. These pieces are very rare and fetch a high price when or if found in antique stores or at auctions. A single striped candleholder has a book value of $650.00, and the pair with red stripes recently sold at auction for just over $13,000.00.

But these are very rare so it’s unlikely that you would see them at an average estate sale.

The Fiesta Mark

So, how do you know you have the real deal? Fiestaware has featured several distinct marks over the years. Let’s do a quick rundown of their mark.

  • ·All Caps “FIESTA” stamp: If the mark is an under-glaze stamp and the word “Fiesta” is entirely uppercase letters, the piece is modern, but this rule applies only to stamp markings—if the uppercase mark is in-mold, the piece might be old or new.

  • ·A capital H on an in-mold mark: If an H appears on the debossed mark, it is a post-1986 piece. The absence of an H does not necessarily mean the piece is vintage, though.

  • ·The words “Lead-Free”: This indicator is found on modern Fiestaware, not vintage.

  • ·A three-letter code: In 1992, the company started marking its pottery with a three-letter code that designates the year and quarter the piece was made. If this code appears, your Fiestaware is modern.

Fiestaware is a classic brand that has stood the test of time. If you’re looking to collect, check out our upcoming estate sales to see if we have any to offer.


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