Color Spotlight: Old Ivory

vintage ivory

Old Ivory was the last of the original five colors. It’s neutral tone was meant to pair with all of the colors but not clash. While most people know that the original red was made with uranium and was thus radioactive, not many people know that this ivory color was also made with radioactive materials. However, the amount of radiation this color gives off is minor, especially when compared with the radioactive red.

vintage ivory
Juice tumbler

Old Ivory, which is what it was actually called in 1936, was fired from 1936 to 1951, when it was retired for the 1950’s colors. Today, it’s mostly called vintage ivory.

 

Sources: LittleRoundTable, HappyHeidi

Color Spotlight: Original Yellow

original yellow
Chop Plate, Sweets Comport, Sugar Bowl, Presentation Bowl

Original Yellow was the next obvious choice in the original five line-up, and as Frederick Rhead said in his journal, it had to talk. This bright, vibrant yellow did exactly that when paired with the other four colors.

yellow nappy bowl
8 1/2 Nappy Bowl

Yellow is famous for being the only original color to last the entire 1936-1972 run.

 

Sources: TexasCooking, Vintage American Pottery

Color Spotlight: Light Green

light green
Misc products in light green

Original Green, also now known as ‘light green’ had to be very carefully chosen. The shad had to be just right – not too bright, but not too dark. Not too blue, but not too yellow, either. As Frederick Rhead, the art designer of HLC, said:

With the (colors) red and blue apparently settled, we decided a green must be one of the five colors. We speedily discovered that the correct balance between the blue and the red was a green possessing a minimum of blue. We had to hit halfway between the red and the blue. We had some lovely subtle greens when they were not placed in juxtaposition with the other two colors, but they would not play in combination.

Light green is, as the name suggests, the lightest of the three vintage greens (excluding chartreuse). While you should be easily able to tell chartreuse from the other vintage greens, it can sometimes be confusing when you see a single piece.

 

 

Medium green is going to be very rare, and comparative to John Deere green. If it’s not that color, and it’s not a lime green-ish color, then it’s either light green or forest green, and it should be fairly easy to tell from there.

light green1
Casserole Dish

Light green was fired from 1936-1951, when it was retired for chartreuse.

light green2
Marmalade Bowl
light green3
Bottom of likely gravy boat
light green4
Nesting Mixing Bowl

 

Sources: DrivingForDeco, HappyHeidi, TexasCooking, Wikipedia

Color Spotlight: Original Cobalt Blue

 

cobalt1
Demitasse Cup & Saucer

The original blue has been dubbed by most collectors as ‘cobalt blue’ due to it’s deep blue color. Vintage cobalt is a much bluer shade of blue than post-86 blue, which is darker.

fiestaware blues
As you can see, the Post86 Cobalt is much darker

Vintage cobalt was produced from 1936-1951, where it was discontinued. HLC brought back the much darker cobalt in the Post86 revival and has not retired it yet.

 

Sources: DrivingForDeco, VintageAmericanPottery, ShannonZPhotography

Color Spotlight: Radioactive Red

original red

Original Red is most commonly called radioactive red due to the fact that it was made with either natural uranium or depleted uranium, depending on the year it was made. From 1936-1943, it was made with natural uranium, until the government took control of all uranium due to WWII. After the World War and the loosening of governmental hold of uranium, HLC began firing radioactive red again, this time with depleted uranium.

Many studies have been done on the amount of radiation this red gives off, and while depleted uranium is (comparatively) safer than natural uranium, they’re both probably not safe to use, especially not with acidic foods. The EPA lists these plates as having “elevated levels” of radiation.

Also, before you eat off any vintage Fiesta plate, remember that lead was an ‘ingredient’, and any cracks in the plate or glaze will expose you to it!

This red is more orangey-red than a true red, so if someone is selling ‘original red’ and it looks like a true red, don’t pay vintage prices for it!

 

Sources: NowIKnow, Orau, ThoughtCo

Colors, Colors, Colors (Vintage)

Original Eleven

original 11
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Forest Green, Cobalt Blue, Chartreuse, Gray, Rose, Yellow, Light Green, Old Ivory, Red, Turquoise, Medium Green

Original Six

Original Six
Pottery Coffeepot: Original Green, Old Ivory, Radioactive Red, Cobalt Blue, and Yellow

The original five colors (shown above) and turquoise make up the ‘Original Six’ lineup, as show below.

original six2
Relish Tray: Old Ivory Tray (Pie Plate), Turquoise, Light Green, Cobalt Blue, and Yellow Inserts (Trays), and Radioactive Center (Coaster)

These colors were very carefully picked. Once red and cobalt blue were settled on, green was an obvious choice, but what shade of green? It was decided that a minimum of blue dye was the perfect balance, and thus, light green was born. Yellow was the next obvious choice, and it had to talk. With a minimum of green in it, this bright yellow was perfect. Ivory was chosen to off-set all these colors. The next year, turquoise was introduced, and is one of the brightest glazes in Fiesta history.

Fifties Colors

50s colors
Dessert Bowl: Forest Green, Gray, Chartreuse, and Rose

Say hello to these fabulous colors, and goodbye to blue, green, and ivory! That means, along with these four colors, HLC kept turquoise and yellow, radioactive red having been discontinued in 1943 due to WWII.

The Sixties

The 1960’s heralded a slump in Fiesta history, and in 1959, Fiesta retired almost all of their colors, except for yellow and turquoise. They reintroduced radioactive red, and introduced medium green. However, sales were limited, due to a turn in popularity to earthenware dinnerware.

1960s
Teacup and Saucer: Medium Green, Turquoise, Yellow, Radioactive Red

Eventually, all four of these colors were discontinued due to lack of sales

Ironstone Era

ironstone
Misc Products: Antique Gold Disk Pitcher, Mango Red Cup & Saucer, Turf Green Oval Platter

From 1969-1972, Fiesta gave one last try in the form of three Ironstone colors, Mango Red (essentially radioactive red, also made with depleted uranium), antique gold, and turf green. The shapes changed slightly as well, but eventually, HLC gave up, and closed it’s doors in 1972.

Sources: TexasCooking, VintageAmericanPottery, HLCCA

A Brief History of Fiestaware Colors

all fiestaware tom and jerry mug colors

History

1936-1973

Fiestaware comes in nearly fifty colors, if you include the three Ironstone firings and original and post-86 colors as separate colors. While most people say there are six original colors, Homer Laughlin only put five colors into production in 1936, and only added turquoise in 1937, bringing the total to six. The first five are: original (radioactive) red, blue, green, yellow, and ivory. Collectors call the blue cobalt, the green light green, and ivory old ivory, in order to differentiate between the many different firings of similar colors. Yellow is the only color to survive the entire original four and a half decades.

After fifteen years, Homer Laughlin decided to change up their color line, marking the beginning of what is known as the 50’s colors. These 50’s colors are forest green, original rose, chartreuse, and gray. Several of the original six colors were cut, including blue (cobalt), green (light), and ivory. The 50’s colors are generally softer and more delicate than the original six. Rose and chartreuse have been recreated in the post 86 era, and while you can generally tell the difference between original rose and new rose, it takes a sharper eye to compare original and new chartreuse.

All of the 50’s colors were ended in 1959, and medium green was introduced in 1959, a color darker than original green and lighter than forest green. At this point, the color line up is original red, yellow, turquoise, and medium green. Production is down due to a trend in earthenware tones, and all colors except original red are retired in 1969. The three Fiesta Ironstone colors are introduced – Mango Red, Antique Gold, and Turf Green. Mango Red is essentially the same as original red, and Turf Green was similar in color to avocado green, which was popular at the time. Antique Gold matched a similarly popular color, but sales did not increase. In 1972, Fiesta closed it’s doors.

Of the original colors, original (radioactive) red and medium green are the two most coveted colors. While the amount of radiation in the ‘radioactive red’ isn’t dangerous to humans, it still makes an exciting piece and thus a coveted piece. As for medium green, while it was produced for a decade, Homer Laughlin produced a fewer number of pieces during that decade, so medium green (similar in color to John Deere green, so watch out for fake ‘medium green’ sales!) is the most valued of original and post 86 colors.

Post-86

In 1985, Bloomingdale’s approached Homer Laughlin about recreating an old dinnerware line, and decided that Fiesta was the most promising. They introduced new colors with the added benefit of being lead-free, something that most other dinnerware lines hadn’t embraced yet.

Post-86 Fiesta was an instant success. The first colors to be fired were white, black, rose, apricot, and cobalt blue. Colors were added and removed all the time, and occasionally, Homer Laughlin did limited runs of colors. The first limited run was Lilac, from 1993 to 1995. Lilac is the most sought after post-86 color. Sapphire was the shortest fired color, from 1996 to 1997, and was a Bloomingdale’s exclusive. Chartreuse was fired from 1997-1999, and is just a little bit brighter than the original color. Juniper were fired only from 1999-2001. The latest limited firing was marigold in 2011, and was fired for only 75 weeks for the 75th anniversary of Fiesta. Homer Laughlin produced “no more than 10,000 individually numbered pieces” of marigold.

In 1997, to commemorate their 500 millionth piece produced, Homer Laughlin produced five hundred raspberry presentation bowls, which were numbered. These are extremely rare, and can go from five thousand dollars to twenty thousand dollars or more, depending on the auction. They originally came with a certificate authenticating them, and the box top had the signature dancing lady. This is probably the second rarest piece in Fiesta production, with only the original turquoise onion soup bowl being rarer.

At this point, Homer Laughlin introduces one new color of Fiesta every year, and generally retires one (or two) colors at the same time. In 2018, the new color is a new purple: mulberry, and retired tangerine and claret, which will end production at the end of 2018.

Color Lineup

Original Colors

Post 86

  • White: 1986-
  • Black: 1986-2015
  • Rose: 1986-2005
  • Apricot: 1986-1998
  • Cobalt Blue: 1986-
  • Yellow: 1987-2002
  • Turquoise: 1988-
  • Periwinkle: 1989-2006
  • Sea Mist: 1991-2005
  • Lilac: 1993-1995
  • Persimmon: 1995-2008
  • Sapphire: 1996-2008
  • Raspberry: 1997 (limited to 500 presentation bowls)
  • Chartreuse: 1997-1999
  • Pearl Gray: 1999-Dec 2001
  • Juniper: 1999-Dec 2001
  • Cinnabar: 2000-2010
  • Sunflower: 2001-
  • Plum: 2002-2015
  • Shamrock: 2002-
  • Tangerine: 2002-2018
  • Scarlet: 2004-
  • Peacock: 2005-2015
  • Heather: 2006-2009
  • Evergreen: 2007-2009
  • Ivory: 2008-
  • Chocolate: 2008-2012
  • Lemongrass: 2009-
  • Paprika: 2010-2017
  • Marigold: 2011-2012 (75 Weeks)
  • Flamingo: 2012-2014
  • Lapis: 2013-
  • Poppy: 2014-
  • Sage: 2015-
  • Slate: 2015-
  • Claret: 2016-2018
  • Daffodil: 2017-
  • Mulberry: 2018-

Find the Masterlist of Color Checklists Here

Sources: TexasCooking, FiestaFactoryDirect (2)(3), Wikipedia, The Little Round Table, Happy Heidi