Product Spotlight: Vintage Ashtray

vintage ashtray
Top: Cobalt Blue, Ivory, Red. Middle: Light Green, Yellow. Bottom: Turquoise

When you find a vintage ashtray, there are two versions. One has no Fiesta mark on the bottom, instead, there are seven circles.

vintage ivory ashtray
Ivory

Later in production, the inner rings were discarded for the well-known ‘Genuine Fiesta HLCO’ stamp.

rose ashtray
Rose

You can often find marks on the bottom of ashtrays, and the ashtrays have the distinction of being the only product in the Fiesta line that have broken circles, in this case, broken by the wells to hold cigarettes.

medium green ashtray
Medium Green

Medium green is, of course, the rarest.

Approximate dimensions: W 6¼” x H 1¼”
Production time: 1936-1969

Sources: Replacements.com, HappyHeidi, Vintage American Pottery

A Brief History of Vintage Products

fiesta products

Depending on how you count, there are anywhere from 52-75 different types products during the 1936-1972 run, and they aren’t all available in every color. Most people typically agree that 42 pieces were debuted, although some people say it’s 34 pieces, and others say 36. However many pieces were debuted, the line took off, and approximately twenty new products were added before the end of the thirties (although several products were discontinued as well!)

Some products can only be found in the original six colors, and some can be found in all original eleven colors. Some can only be found in some of the later colors.

The following are considered the original pieces by most collectors in the original eleven glazes:

  • Ashtray
  • Covered Onion Soup Bowl
  • Cream Soup Bowl
  • Dessert Bowl 6″
  • Footed Salad Bowl
  • Fruit Bowl 11 3/4″
  • Fruit Bowl 5 1/2″
  • Fruit Bowl 4 3/4″
  • Individual Salad Bowl
  • Mixing/Nesting Bowls, #1-7
  • Lids for mixing/nesting bowls
  • Nappy Bowl 9 1/2″ (open serving bowl)
  • Nappy Bowl 8 1/2″ (open serving bowl)
  • Unlisted Salad Bowl
  • Bulb Candle Holder
  • Tripod Candle Holder
  • Carafe
  • Casserole Dish
  • Coffeepot
  • Demitasse Coffeepot
  • Footed Comport
  • Sweets Comport
  • Individual Creamer
  • Ring Handled Creamer
  • Stick Handled Creamer
  • Demitasse Cup, Stick Handled
  • Egg cup
  • Mixing Bowl Lid
  • Marmalade bowl
  • Tom & Jerry Mug
  • Lidded Mustard Jar
  • Disk Pitcher, juice
  • Disk Pitcher, water
  • Ice Pitcher
  • Two Pint Pitcher
  • Cake Plate
  • Chop Plate 15″
  • Chop Plate 13″
  • Deep Plate
  • Divided Plate 10″
  • Divided Plate 12″
  • Plates, 6″, 7″, 9″, 10″
  • Oval Platter
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers
  • Sauce Boat
  • Sugar Bowl
  • Figure 8 Tray, Sugar, & Creamer Set
  • Syrup Pitchers
  • Teacup & Saucer
  • Teapot, large
  • Teapot, medium
  • Relish tray
  • Utility tray
  • Juice tumbler
  • Water tumbler
  • Bud Vase
  • Flower vase, 8″, 10″, 12″

Find the Masterlist of  Product Checklists Here

 

 

Sources: CollectorsWeekly, DrivingWithDeco, HappyHeidi, Vintage American Pottery

Color Spotlight: Original Turquoise

original turquoise
Relish Tray in all Original Turquoise (seconds)

Most people consider turquoise to be one of the original colors, and call it, as well as red, yellow, ivory, blue, and green the Original Six colors. It was fired from 1937 to 1969, almost the entire original run. It was then reintroduced in 1988 due to it’s popularity, and has not been retired since.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 5.57.14 PM

The post-86 turquoise is a little greener.

Sources: ShannonZPhotography, Vintage American Pottery

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

So You Want To Collect Fiestaware

fiesta rainbow2

You’ve decided to embark on a journey, my friend.

You like the colors. The pretty circle plates. Something about Fiesta calls to you, and I understand. My sister picked up a cobalt disk pitcher and has never looked back. (My mistake was finding the color peacock.)

There are many different ways to go about this.

Do you want to collect just one color? Sure! Do you want to collect all colors of one item? Sure! Do you want to collect whatever catches your fancy? Sure!

There are no rules when it comes to collecting Fiesta. Do whatever your heart desires.

 

I’m here to share a little bit of history about the pieces and the colors, and to give you checklists, because checklists make me happy, and they might make you happy too.

Want to collect by color? Go here for a masterpost of checklists!

Want to collect a specific product in all colors? Go here for a masterpost of checklists!

Want to collect one of the other Fiesta lines, like Amberstone or Ironstone? Go here!

Want to know about the history of colors? Go here for an overview, here for a more in depth look at the vintage colors and here for a closer look at the Post 86 colors.

Want to know more about the products themselves? Go here for vintage products and here for Post 86 products. Want to know about those other Fiesta lines? Go here.

Want a quick vocab lesson? Check this page out!

PS – they’ll be updated as I finish each one!

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