Thursday, August 23, 2018

Franciscan Desert Rose

Over 30 years ago I purchased an entire set of Franciscan Desert Rose dishes and serving platters from my friend Nancy. In addition to place settings including dinner, salad and butter plates, there were tea cups with saucers, coffee mugs, serving platters and more. Nancy was ready to move on to new designs and new dishes, so I was in luck and got a great price for my treasures! Thanks, Nancy! I'm still using my beautiful dishes.
Over the years I added more pieces to my Desert Rose Franciscan ware. This particular design offered so many extra pieces. I have a butter dish, gravy boat, salt & pepper shakers, tea pot, even a wall clock!


Desert Rose is the MOST popular pattern ever created in Franciscan Ware. It was designed around 1939. The name, "Desert Rose" was given to this design to evoke a western, but refined image. I've picked up a few pieces here and there at estate sales and at thrift shops. I can definitely see a difference in the earlier dishes versus the newer manufactured dishes. The California-made Desert Rose is very textured/embossed and the edges of the dishes are prominently scalloped. After the Franciscan designs were sold to Wedgewood, the dishes were manufactured in Britain. They are still beautiful, but the roses and leaves are less pronounced and the scalloped edges are rounder. When Larry and I were married in 1992, I registered to receive more dinner plates. These are slightly different than my earlier pieces. I have never seen the Desert Rose dishes manufactured in China. I've only seen photos and all of the texture, scallops and charm seems to be gone. Also, the colors aren't as soft and pleasing.


I don't own the Xmas tree ornament, but it's available!

There were a number of other designs besides Desert Rose. My OTHER favorite is the Apple design. They also offered the popular "Starburst" and "Del Mar" patterns which are VERY popular with the mid-century modern set.
"Apple" Franciscan Ware
"Starburst" Franciscan Ware
I have a couple of pieces of the Starburst pattern that I use for appetizers.
The Franciscan Pottery Factory, originally part of Gladding McBean Company, was on Los Feliz Boulevard in Atwater, where the Costco shopping center is now located, across the street from the Tam O' Shanter Restaurant. I remember the factory quite well. They had a "seconds" shop where I used to hunt for extra pieces. The property was sold in 1984.
Franciscan Factory, 2901 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater, Los Angeles, photo from the Franciscan Ceramics Archives
I don't use my Franciscan dishes that often. Larry complains that they're too difficult to wash well and since I do most of the cooking, Larry is our resident dishwasher in our circa 1928 kitchen. He likes using his bachelor-days set of Corelle dishes! They are "Winter Frost White" and very practical #boring. I'm thinking about a kitchen remodel that would include a modern dishwasher! Time to come into the 20th century, Ellen.
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