|The Homer Laughlin
China Company of Newell, West Virginia manufactured Fiesta dinnerware from
the middle of the 1930s until 1973. After a hiatus of about 12 years, Fiesta
was once again produced and is still being produced today in the colors
which have become so popular and with the durability for which Fiesta is
known. Homer Laughlin began as Laughlin Brothers pottery in East Liverpool,
Ohio in 1871. They were first known for making "whiteware", a type of pottery
which turned a brilliant white when fired and for which the local Ohio
clay was particularly well suited. This dinnerware was sold primarily to
restaurants and hotels as an inexpensive but attractive substitute for
more expensive china. The Homer Laughlin China Company was incorporated
in 1886 although Homer left the company very soon thereafter and turned
management over to others.
The company hired Frederick Rhead, a highly
regarded Englishman, as the artistic director, and he created streamlined
Art Deco designs which immediately resonated with the public as Fiesta--
introduced about 1936. In keeping with the Art
Deco design aesthetic, the simplicity of the geometric shapes and the
use of bold colors were welcomed after the excesses of the Victorian and
Art Nouveau periods. Furthermore, Fiesta was introduced at a price that
made such design affordable to the mass market. The original production
included over 30 items including plates, bowls, teapots, cups and saucers,
trays, etc. Additional and more specialty items were added soon thereafter
such as egg cups and vases.
Fiestaware was marketed by playing on the
images of Mexican "fiestas" and the phrase "The dinnerware that turns your
table into a celebration" was born as a marketing slogan. Eleven different
Fiesta colors were introduced between 1936 and 1959, starting with red
(made from depleted uranium oxide), medium green, cobalt blue, yellow,
and ivory and, followed by turquoise in 1938, gray and light green in 1943,
and forest green, chartreuse, and rose in 1951. While new colors were added
thereafter and some colors were retired, Fiesta remained very consistent
in both styling and in the bold use of color.
While Fiestaware is
still made today, collectors seek out the original production
which can be identified by the marks on the pieces. For the
original production, three different marks were used: "Fiesta/
HLC USA", "HLC/Fiesta/Made in USA", and "Fiesta/Made in USA/HL
Co.". Fiestaware is actively copied, so one much be careful
of reproductions or similar wares made by other companies. Since
about 1940, Homer Laughlin also marked all of their production
with the mark "Genuine". It should also be noted that some smaller,
genuine Fiesta items may not have any markings whatsoever such
as salt and pepper shakers. Be careful to look at the detailing
and quality, and especially the spacing of the circles which
on genuine Fiestaware should narrow progressively.
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a fake or a seller that didn't deliver the goods as described?
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