Shopping for Microwave Safe Dinnerware and Fine China

Franciscan - An American Dinnerware Tradition
Franciscan Dinnerware

Franciscan Ware: An American Dinnerware Tradition

Franciscan Ware dates back to 1875 with the founding of Gladding, McBean & Co., a producer of sewer tile. The success of the company began with its production of Franciscan dinnerware in 1934 at their plant in Glendale, California. Franciscan dinnerware premiered in June 1934 at the Hotel Biltmore in Los Angeles. It was shown on the East Coast at the New York China and Glass Show in July 1934.

The name Franciscan is an allusion to Franciscan monks reflecting the simple, informal style of Mexican folk pottery. The line was originally sold under the name Franciscan Pottery and used bright colors in the style of the American Southwest. Franciscan was influential in creating the "California Style" of American ceramics and gave Spanish names to the patterns like Montecito and Coronado. The name was changed from Franciscan Pottery to Franciscan Ware in an effort to expand their market image. At the same time they introduced new patterns that used a raised relief technique and were hand painted.

Franciscan dinnerware was developed and marketed by Frederic and Mary Grant. The Grants created many of the favorite Franciscan designs and oversaw the work of other artists that worked at the company. Together they produced exciting designs, including Starburst, a popular collectible, desirable for its innovation of irregular shape and abstract design.

Over the years the company grew by buying smaller regional potteries and acquiring new production capabilities to produce a larger selection of wares including decorative tiles, garden pottery, and art pottery.

Franciscan Desert Rose first produced in 1941, was the last pattern produced. It was retired in 2013, although early pieces are what collectors seek. Desert Rose is thought to be the most popular American dinnerware pattern of all time. Other popular patterns were Apple, Ivy, October, and Fresh Fruit, and later popular work by other designers include Hacienda in the 1960s, and Picnic and Madeira in the 1970s.

Franciscan began producing fine china with gold or platinum trim in 1941 during World War II. They marketed fine china under the "Franciscan Masterpiece China" label in the late 1950s, continuing into the late 1970s. Masterpiece China was purchased in 1961 by Jacqueline Kennedy for Air Force One and in 1960 by Richard Nixon for the Presidential yacht.

Franciscan ceased production in 1984 in the United States after a series of mergers including the 1979 sale to Wedgwood of England. All Franciscan production was moved to the United Kingdom. Franciscan designs, especially those specifically created by Mary and Frederic Grant, have appeared in museum exhibitions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

By the way, the dinnerware with all the food in it on the cover of Microwave Cooking for One is the Franciscan Sea Sculptures collection.

The Franciscan Ware Patterns

To help you with your search for replacement or additional pieces for your Franciscan collection, we have created this catalog of the discontinued Franciscan patterns. Just bookmark the page for your pattern, and check back once a week for new listings of items to add to your collection.

There are a lot of Franciscan patterns. Did we miss yours? We'll be happy to create a page for your pattern. Just post your request at our Facebook Page or Google+ Page. Patterns are divided alphabetically into separate sections providing thumbnail preview of the pattern.


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