Any fans or collectors of Fiesta Dinnerware (aka- "Fiestaware")?

As popular as the Fiesta is today, I figured there must be some other Straight Dopers who are also fans and/or collectors.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Fiesta Dinnerware (colloquially referred to as “Fiestaware” by many), here’s a brief history-

Fiesta was introduced at the Pittsburgh China & Glass Show in January 1936. It has always been a product of Homer Laughlin China Company in Newell, West Virginia (about an hour west of Pittsburgh). I had the opportunity to tour the actual factory when I went to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and it was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. The ‘seconds’ room located off the main outlet/store was also a real treat. For $56, I bought nine pieces of Fiesta with a retail value of over $190!

(Interesting bit of geographic trivia- Newell, WV is the northernmost settlement in the state of West Virginia. It located in the panhandle between Ohio and Pennsylvania just above Wheeling. According to the U.S. Census, which considers West Virginia as part of the ‘South’, Newell is also the northernmost settlement in the Southern United States. The obvious problem is that West Virginia is not a part of the South by any other measure.)
Fiesta was introduced as a line of colored, open-stock dinnerware during the Great Depression. The concept of ‘open-stock’ was new and it allowed customers to purchase it by the piece rather than by the place setting or table setting. It also encouraged customers to mix and match colors. It was an instant success, selling more than one million pieces in 1936 alone. At introduction, five colors were available- Red (orange-red), Blue (cobalt), Green (light), Yellow (deep golden) and Old Ivory (yellowish cream). In early 1937, Turquoise was added as the sixth color.

The Fiesta line sold well initially, but sales slipped during WW2 and never recovered. The original lineup was cancelled in 1969. Some of the products were modified or redesigned entirely in an effort to modernize going into the 1970s. The line was renamed “Fiesta Ironstone” and three colors were available (Mango Red, Turf Green (avacado) and Antique Gold (or Harvest Gold as the rest of us knew it). In 1972, they finally took it out back and shot it (figuratively speaking…but having seen those hideous colors first hand, I could enjoy using some green and gold salad plates for skeet practice)!

The products from 1936 to 1969 are commonly known as “Vintage Fiesta” now. The line was reintroduced in 1986 and has been in continuous production since. All items made from 1986 to the present are considered ‘modern Fiesta’ but most collectors call it “Post-86” to avoid any confusion with the vintage!

I have been collecting Fiesta (on and off) for more than half of my 41-year life. As a man, I am a tiny minority within the collector community but that doesn’t bother me a bit. I have found other Fiesta collectors to be among the nicest people I’ve ever met…unless we’re at the Factory Outlet Semi-Annual Tent Sale, then all bets are off! A sugary sweet Mom from the South will break the first thing she can reach and use the biggest shard to shank your ass at the Tent Sale!

I currently have at least one piece in 23 different colors. There were 13 different colors offered during the Vintage phase (not including those three awful Ironstone colors) and about 35 in Modern or Post-86 Fiesta, so far. For years, my plan was to eventually own at least one piece in every color ever offered. I have since decided that I should only add colors I actually LIKE to my collection. For example, the Black and White are both very boring to me. I also don’t care for Rose, Lilac, Cinnabar, Ivory, Chocolate, Flamingo or Lemongrass (all retired except the Lemongrass).

My interest in collecting Fiesta was reignited late last year (2014) when I realized that they were finally offering a beautiful bright blue color called Lapis! I have always loved a very-limited-production called Sapphire Blue which was only made from 1986-1987 and sold exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. I have a plate in Sapphire (cost me $70 on Ebay in 2007). It is very difficult to distinguish between the Sapphire and the new Lapis blue.

I intiially bought service for four in Lapis (blue) last December. Even though they offer 4-piece and 5-piece plate settings, the bowls and salad plates are far too small to be serviceable. The only item from the place settings that I buy is the 10.5" Dinner Plate. Along with it, I got the 9" Luncheon Plate (instead of the 7.25" Salad Plate), the 38oz Medium Bistro Bowl (instead of the 19oz regular bowl) and 18oz Jumbo Mugs in place of the 10.25-12oz Coffee/Java Mugs. Sure, it cost about $20 more per place setting, but I’m much happier than I would have been with the boxed place setting and undersized dishes.

As much as I love the Lapis color, I’ve always been a huge fan of mixing Fiesta colors and not having everything in the same color. It took me a while to decide, but I chose Poppy (orangey-red) as the best complement to Lapis. I bought service for four in Poppy so I now have eight place settings, half in Lapis and half in Poppy!

I thought that was the stuff with Uranium?

Ah, the radioactive color.

I have modern Fiestaware just for our everyday dishes. I like it. Solid pieces, nice colors (cobalt and sunflower, I think). Fortunately, I haven’t gone down the collector rabbit hole as it sounds pricy.

OP, did it annoy you that the new Lapis color was so close to the collectible Sapphire?

I loves Fiestaware. It is a tragedy when a plate breaks.

Fortunately we have enough to last until the next century.

My mom was into Fiesta for a split second in the 90s. It was fun going to antique malls and flea markets looking for those colorful pieces to jump out at you.

But, she’s not one to have hobbies or collections so she dropped it pretty fast. I think she does still have a few random pieces but she uses them for serving, not eating.

How many pieces do you have, Beezlebubba? And how do you store them?

I like some Fiesta designs and colors but are there certain collectible pieces with any real VALUE? As in predictably re-sellable? Not being critical - I’d really like to know and maybe collect a few pieces.

I live near the source of Bybee Pottery of which (I’m told) certain 1930’s items are valuable. But how do you know what’s valuable if the designs are pretty much unchanged since the beginning of the product?

We have modern-era Fiesta as our everyday dishes; we bought four each in yellow, pink, and light blue about 20 years ago. In all that time, I think we’ve lost one small plate due to breakage, and that’s it. The stuff is practically bulletproof.

Of our three colors, I’m not sure that any of them are actually still in production.

Not a collector, but the Ukulele Lady and I like the design, so we own a few of the smaller reproduction pieces in various colors.

Small plates and platters for hors d’oeuvres; salt and pepper shakers; sugar bowl and creamer; small open bowl for serving coarse salt.

Don’t use them a lot. Our china collection is eclectic. Most of it’s from Mediterranean countries – Spain, Morocco, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast – plus some very New England-y stuff from Maine potteries we like. The Fiestaware doesn’t fit in, so it usually gets used on its own.

Also not a collector, but I use it for everyday dishes. I have 10 place settings in 10 different colors. :smiley:

Our everyday dishes are Fiesta, and we also have a couple sets of the striped glassware. I have a Fiesta knife block and some surprisingly high-quality knives that match.

My stepdad just gave us a large assortment of small plates and bowls, as well as a small platter, that he found in his mom’s basement, so I imagine they’re Vintage Fiesta. The bowls and plates are blue and green, but the platter is a very light blue.

I don’t have any but I do love it – I like simple clean lines and no frilliness and also vibrant deep colors. So Shaker, Arts and Crafts or Mission furniture punched up with linens and tableware in Fiesta type colors. Now I have pulled up Images and am drooling :slight_smile: Deep blue, orange and goldenrod type colors now, but my tastes change enough that I should just get one in every color!

If you had to pick one color

Back when we were still a family of four I had an idea of purchasing Fiestaware plates and settings for each family member, assigning each one a color.

I was Orange.

That way there was no doubt who left the dirty plate in the living room.

It worked out better than I had hoped, and I really liked my orange plate and orange flatware.

Then we remodeled the kitchen and added two more family members, so we go with Ikea White these days.

That’s a cool chart. I’m guessing that it is probably from 2012 or before. It shows Chocolate (retired in 2012) as a choice and Peacock (retired in 2015) as choices. Lapis (2013), Poppy (2014) and the new 2015 colors, Sage and Slate, also aren’t included.

Actually, Peacock and Lapis are very similar and I wondered how long they’d keep both in production. Unless they’re sitting side-by-side, I have to check the price tag in the store to tell which one I’m looking at. It doesn’t help that I am technically red-green color blind! =) Seriously, I always have my best friend or a family member approve my color choice when I buy a new car just to be safe. I usually go with Silver or Gray, but even Gray can have purple, green or blue hues (that I can’t see) now.

It can be a very pricey hobby, especially the vintage pieces and limited-production colors and/or pieces from any time period. For example, I’ve always wanted a piece in the Green introduced in 1959. They simply called it Green, but it is famous throughout the Fiesta world as “Medium Green”. The largest and busiest Fiesta website, which existed until 2008 when the site owner threw in the towel, was

As far as Lapis being so similar to the limited-production Sapphire from 1986, it doesn’t annoy me at all! Quite the opposite! Because Sapphire was sold only by Bloomingdales, only a limited number of different items were available in the color. For example, there might have only been one size of Platter and no Sugar/Creamer set offered in Sapphire. In contrast, you can get several different types and sizes of Platters and two different sugar/creamer sets in Lapis. The Sapphire pieces are also prohibitively expensive because production was so limited.

BTW, Cobalt and Sunflower sounds like a great combination! Dark Blue and Bright Yellow, bright and in stark contrast to one another, which is what I love about Fiesta.

I use them for everyday use and they are liked by everyone who comes over to dine. When people open up the cabinets to get something the first thing they do is say wow.

I have 32 pieces (16 in Lapis and 16 in Poppy) that I use as my everyday dinnerware. I also have salt/pepper shakers, trivets, spoon rest and even a sugar (or Stevia, in my case) pack holder, all in Lapis. So there’s just over 40 pieces that I use and keep in my kitchen cabinets.

My ‘collection’ includes at least another 130 pieces in various colors. The only pieces of ‘vintage’ that I have are dinner plates in the original Yellow and Turquoise. The rest is a mix of platters, plates, bowls, carafes, teapots and disc pitchers in various colrors. I display most of them in an antique china cabinet that my mom gave me about 10 years ago. It is about 4-ft wide and stands about 4.5ft tall. It has two glass doors and five levels of glass shelves plus the top is designed to display items as well.

My single favorite piece of the Fiesta line is the Large Disc Pitcher. It was introduced in early 1938 and it has been produced in every color to date. The two pieces that epitomize the Art Deco influence on Fiesta design are the disc pitcher and the pyramid candle holders. The pitchers are plentiful enough that even the ones in retired colors aren’t too pricey. I currently have 19 of the Large Disc Pitchers and they reside on top of my kitchen cabinets. When I built my house seven years ago, I chose cabinets that left about 16" of space between the top and the ceiling and I added LED uplighting to them also. They look great up there, IMO, and everyone notices and comments on them.

BTW, there were 21 of them until my spoiled brat kitty knocked two off so she could nap up there! I would have shot anyone else who did that. I had to put her to sleep in 2012 and I have avoided replacing those two for some reason.

There are still quite a few Large Disc Pitchers in Retired Post-86 colors that I want. I tend to go on a binge and add 4-5 at a time rather than one by one.

I am a hardcore fan of Arts & Crafts (or ‘Craftsman’) design! My house is actually a Craftsman-style Bungalow. I’m also a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright.

I’ve never been drawn to the Art Deco design aesthetic untill Fiesta. The colors are what drew me in but the clean lines were also part of the appeal. The colors aren’t always timeless, but the design is.

We were too poor for something so fancy. So Melmac is the neat retro stuff for me.

A lot of people find a few certain pieces that they love and those may be the only Fiesta that they ever own. Some of the pieces are very striking. I mentioned the Large Disc Pitcher and Pyramid Candle Holders earlier, but the Salt and Pepper Shakers, Teapots and Carafes are also very unique and appealing.

I also have a few hundred pieces of Depression Glass. My grandmother started a collection for my sister in pink and for me in green in a specific pattern when we were born. I’ve never been a big fan of Depression Glass…quite frankly, it is DEPRESSING! (not to mention low quality) But I will always keep it because she spent so much time and effort assembling a collection just for me. It just won’t be on display anytime in the near future! =)