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Although many companies manufactured dinnerware throughout history, we just wanted to give you a sampling of a few of the major names and patterns you're likely to encounter at an American Antique Glass and Dinnerware show.
Robert Hall established Hall China in 1903, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Upon his death a year later, his son took over the business. Early production centered on toilet sets, and other utilitarian wares. This was the primary tact of the business until the late 1930's and early 1940's.
At that time, production boomed with the introduction of dinnerware and kitchenware patterns utilizing decals. The largest, and most successful, was Autumn Leaf. It was distributed by the Jewel Tea Company as premium items, and therefore is also know as "Jewel Tea". Production began in 1933 and continued to 1976. Virtually, any piece you can think of was made: plates, cups, saucers, cereal bowls, creamer, sugar, butter dish, custards, serving bowls, teapots, mixing bowls, etc. In addition, metal pieces were licensed such as cookware, canisters, cake safes, and flour sifters. Various sizes of tablecloths and tea towels were also made. Libby produced several glasses to go with the set. You could literally buy anything, and everything!
Other dinnerware patterns were also manufactured. Some of these were Orange Poppy, Red Poppy, Crocus, Blue Bouquet, Tulip, Cameo Rose, Rose Parade, Heather Rose,and Wildfire. The list is quite extensive. Hall also produced several patterns for Sears, including Arlington and Monticello.
Kitchenware and refrigerator ware were also produced for extensive periods of time. Pieces included canister sets, jugs, casseroles, shakers, coffee pots, and miscellaneous refrigerator sets. Beer sets, punch sets, Tom and Jerry sets, watering cans, and advertising and promotional products were manufactured as well.
Teapots were another one of Hall's major lines. Various novelty teapots, in a variety of colors, started production in 1938. The automobile was introduced first, followed by the basket, basketball, birdcage, donut and football. In addition to the novelty line, many shapes, such as airflow, aladdin, nautilus, parade, streamline, boston, and windshield teapots were manufactured in a variety of colors and decorations. Many teapot collectors have long since run out of space.
There are several good reference books about Hall China. If the teapots and coffee pots are your main interest, try Gary & Paula Barneby's Hall China Tea & Coffee Pots: The First 100 Years, published in 2005. Hall China, written by Jeffrey B. Snyder, was published by Schiffer publishing in 2007. The Collectors Encyclopedia of Hall China, by Margaret & Kenn Whitmeyer is a Collector book from 2001. These last two books cover the general aspects of all products manufactured by Hall China.
Gladding, McBean & Co., was founded in 1875 to produce sewer tile for the rapidly developing American West, but their fame began with production of Franciscan dinnerware in 1934 at their plant in Glendale, California. In 1962 Gladding McBean and Company merged with the Lock Joint Pipe Company and became Interpace. The Franciscan line continued in California until 1984 when the facility at Glendale was closed and all production moved to England (and later some patterns/pieces were produced in Japan, China and Portugal). Several of the older patterns are still being produced in England by various divisions of Waterford Wedgwood but their look and size is slightly different, and their backstamp will read "Made in England".
In 1940, Franciscan Apple was introduced, followed by Desert Rose in 1941. Although other patterns and lines were manufactured (including Ivy), these are the two main designs associated with Franciscan dinnerware and the California potteries in general. As with other dinnerware patterns, the Apple and Desert Rose lines were produced with a multiple of pieces and shapes. In addition to a basic table setting, some of these include covered soup tureens, mixing bowls, ashtrays, candlesticks, jam jars, picture frames, and picture and tumbler sets. More pieces were added to the line throughout the years, including microware /baking dishes, ginger jars, piggy banks, napkin rings, and trivets in the late 1970's. Crystal and glass products were introduced by the Imperial Glass Corporation, Libbey Glass Company, and Anchor Hocking Glass to accompany the patterns, using such names as "Western Apple" and "Western Rose".
One good reference book is Franciscan, An American Dinnerware Tradition, written by Bob Page and Dale Frederiksen. This was published by Page/Frederiksen Publications in 1999. Another is Franciscan Hand-Decorated Embossed Dinnerware, by James F. Elliot-Bishop. Schiffer publishing put this book out in 2007.
In 1871, Laughlin Pottery was formed in East Liverpool, Ohio. Started by two brothers, the business passed from family hands by 1900, but the name remained as Homer Laughlin Company. New plants were added, with the entire business moving to Newell, West Virginia by 1929.
Although Laughlin produced many varieties of dinnerware, the one were going to deal with here is Fiesta. It was, by far, their largest and most popular line. Introduced in 1936, it originally was offered in five brilliant and bright colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and ivory. It was always true, and still is, that collectors of Fiesta come from two schools of thought. One group prefers to collect a single color, while the other insists that a table setting mix and match as many colors as possible.
As you might expect in dinnerware, plates of various sizes, cups, saucers, bowls, creamers, and sugars make up the basic set. However, through the years many more items were added to the basic lines. New items included egg cups, deep 8" plates, covered casseroles and marmalades, jugs, candlesticks, vases, and salt and pepper shakers. More items were retired and introduced through the life of the Fiesta line.
While red was always priced just a bit higher due to production costs, its available also pushed prices up. In 1943, the government forced manufacture of red to stop when it gained control of uranium oxide for the war effort. This was used to make the red color only. Because of this, turquoise was added to the line in 1944. Other changes in color occurred in the fall of 1951. Light green, dark blue, and old ivory were retired, and the replacement colors of forest green, rose, chartreuse, and gray were added. These new colors are usually referred to as the "fifties colors". In 1959, red was reinstated when Laughlin was able to buy depleted uranium oxide from the government. By the way, rumors that red is radioactive has circulated for years. In fact, the deal with this problem, studies at Purdue University determined the levels of radiation were sanctioned. The levels were less than the radium dial on a watch face!
Fiesta can also be found in other lines manufactured by Laughlin. Fiesta Kitchen Kraft was introduced in 1939. It was, as the name implies, to be used in the kitchen. Some items included were mixing bowls, covered jars, pie plates, cake plates, and refrigerator sets. These were available in the four basic colors of red, blue, green, and yellow. In the 1960's, decals and painting were added and the "casual" line was born. The Hawaiian 12-point daisy and yellow carnation were smaller productions, and more difficult to come by today. Decal on Fiesta can be found, but only in very short supply.
"New" Fiesta was reintroduced to the market in 1986. Although produced in new colors, some are vary similar to the old. Most are more pastel that the originals. However, since the old molds were used for many of the pieces, this new line caused confusion and concern among collectors. As a direct result, prices for "old" Fiesta pieces dropped, and only now are beginning to recover. If you have any questions or concerns, make sure you're buying from a reputable dealer.
Two of the best reference books available are Fiesta, Harlequin, & Kitchen Kraft Dinnerware, put out by the Homer Laughlin Collectors Association in 2002 through Schiffer publishing; and The Collector's Encyclopedia of Fiesta, written by Bob and Sharon Huxford. This book is in its ninth edition, with 2001 values, through Collector Books.
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