By Vicki Matranga
What dinnerware line was designed in 1936, is a hot collectible for antique seekers, and is made by the only ceramic tableware manufacturer remaining in the U.S.? If you guessed Fiesta®, you are correct!
Headquartered in Newell, West Virginia, the family-owned Homer Laughlin China Company celebrates two special anniversaries in 2011—the 140th year since the company’s founding (by Mr. Homer Laughlin) in 1871 and the 75th birthday of the Fiesta® dinnerware line. Beloved by generations, Fiesta was designed by noted ceramicist Frederick Hurten Rhead in 1936; by 1938 (and this was during the Great Depression!), one million dozen pieces of Fiesta® had been produced.
The dinnerware line was discontinued in 1973 and reintroduced in 1986 to mark its 50th anniversary. Its easy mix-and-match Art Deco styling appeals to young consumers today and is a top bridal registry item. A leading dinnerware brand in casual tabletop, the signature Fiesta® dinnerware is the company’s best-selling line. Originally introduced in five colors, over the years Fiesta® has graced tables in 42 unique colors. The Company retires some colors and premiers new ones annually. Selected colors are available only in limited editions to keep the brand fresh and contemporary.
In the 1950s, the company became a major supplier of china for the hospitality industry. When you’re dining in a restaurant, turn over a dish to see if it’s made by Homer Laughlin!
Today the durable dinnerware is formed by robots instead of carved or molded by the hands of skilled artisans and ware is fired in state-of-the-art computerized kilns. The Homer Laughlin China Company remains a major employer in the Ohio River region once home to many pottery makers.
Congratulations to The Homer Laughlin China Company for its historic anniversaries. May the lady in the big skirt keep dancing for years to come!
All photos courtesy of Homer Laughlin China Co.