How to tell old Fiestaware from new

Image by redcargurl

Fiesta ware salt and pepper shakers

The bright hues of Fiestaware have always inspired cheer in us. There’s just something satisfying about eating your meal on a beautiful colored plate, crafted with care and style. And while we’re thrilled so many other people agree and Fiesta re-launched the collection in 1986, it does make it challenging for the vintage collector. Join us as we answer the question: how to tell old Fiestaware from new.

Brief history of Fiestaware

As we showed you earlier, the old Fiesta line was designed by Frederick Rhead and then modeled by Kraft, Berrisford and Watkins. The line was produced by Homer Laughlin from 1936-1973, being reissued a mere 13 years later by Jonathan Perry and modeler Joseph Geisse. As the line grew in popularity, many complimentary lines were launched: Fiesta Kitchen Kraft, Fiesta Ironstone, Sheffield Amberstone, Coventry Casualstone, and Fiesta Mates.

How to tell old Fiestaware from new by color

The vintage Fiesta collection included around 70 items and collectors usually divide the color schemes into three, distinct groups. The original colors included red, cobalt, yellow, light green, old ivory, and turquoise. As consumers’ tastes changed, the line evolved to follow suit in the 1950s and those colors included: gray, rose, chartreuse, and forest green. The final group contains just one color, the rarest find, medium green.

Image by lostinimiami

Fiestaware wonders

When it comes to colors, it’s critical to know what years certain colors were in production. Despite turquoise being included in the umbrella of “original colors”, it did not debut until a year after the others in 1937. Red was the first discontinued color, being removed from the factory in 1943. Due to its chemical composition, Homer Laughlin could not obtain the necessary Uranium Oxide during the war. Red was only offered again in 1959. In 1951 ivory, light green, and cobalt were supplanted by the 1950 hues listed above. These tones were produced until 1959 (the same year turquoise and yellow were discontinued). The remaining colors stayed around until 1969 when Fiesta Ironstone was developed and distributed.

Discerning the green tones can be tricky, but keep in mind that retro chartreuse is going to be darker than the new chartreuse hue. It’s easiest to find light green as that was one of the most popular colors in the line.

Fiesta Kitchen Kraft colors

During the 1930s and the 40s, Kraft products were found in red, cobalt, light green, and yellow. These are heavy, durable products and included a variety of kitchenware necessities: mixing bowls, casserole dishes, pie plates, jars, cake plates and platters, spoons, and cake lifters.

Image from “Collecting Fiesta, Lu-Ray, and Other Colorware”

Casualstone example, image from “Collecting Fiesta, Lu-Ray, and Other Colorware”

Fiesta Ironstone colors

Debuting in 1969, this line came in three core colors: turf green, antique gold, and mango red (which was just a new name for the original Fiesta red). Some items will include a 60th anniversary logo. This collection was removed from shelves in 1973.

Fiesta Amberstone colors

This collection was independently created and also is known under the name Sheffield Amberstone. All offerings in this line have a brown glaze, with some having black decoration and a 60th anniversary logo.

Fiesta Casualstone colors

Casualstone is the sister line to the above Amberstone, made with an antique gold glaze (and occasional floral pattern). Like Amberstone, it went under another name: “Coventry Casualstone.”

How to tell old Fiestaware from new by markings

Thankfully, the manufacturers used distinctive stamps for the old and new collections. The old inkstamp says “GENUINE fiesta (fiesta will be in a stylized text and all lower-cased words) HLCo USA. This marking will be in a straight line. In contrast, the new collection will have Fiesta with a capital “F” and the marks will be in a circular/curved format.

Vintage Fiesta marking

Vintage Fiesta marking

In addition to this inkstamp on the bottom, you will find a mold marking on practically every original piece created. You may or may not find rings around the wording. The variations in text include: Fiesta HLC USA, Fiesta MADE IN USA HLC, HLC fiesta MADE IN USA, fiesta MADE IN USA (with a trident-like logo above it).

If you see small letter markings on the bottom – here is a helpful guide to understanding what they mean!

In the other lines, the markings do vary. The Kitchen Kraft collection are home to a variety of decals, but all will have a backstamp of “HLC.” You will also find the wording “in-the-mold” (either as a permanent marking or a sticker).

How to tell old Fiestaware from new by inspection

The last ways to decipher old from new are more involved. These techniques require closer inspection and a bit of training. But first we’ll start by taking your find and flipping it over. Looking at the underside will tell you plenty about your recent addition. Old plates will have what’s known as a wet foot. The term sounds foreign, but the translation is simple: a wet foot means the underside is completely glazed; you will not be able to see any un-colored clay. In addition to the piece being completely covered, you’ll see three pin marks – these small indentations are a result of the glazing process. New Fiestaware will have a dry foot ring.

English manufacturing at work

Flip over your find!

Sizing is another good way to tell vintage from modern apart. New plates are solid dimensions, like 15” or 6”. If you measure the diameter and get a number that is slightly off (or fractional), you’ve got an original piece. Naturally, design comes into play as well. With teacups specifically, look for ring (perfectly circular) handles to identify it as an old Fiesta product. Lastly, and this is the most tricky, new Fiesta will be heavier than the old as it’s made with a different kind of clay.


Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: Fiesta Dishes, Ebay, Texas Cooking, and “Collecting Fiesta, Lu-Ray, and Other Colorware” by Mark Gonzalez.

For our readers: Do you collect Fiestaware and if so, what’s your favorite vintage color?


Replies for “How to tell old Fiestaware from new

    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Linda,
      Great question! Most Fiestaware is marked, but some of the oldest pieces (or small pieces) are un-stamped/unmarked. In those cases, let color be your guide for determining authenticity. Cheers!

      Reply
    • Jay

      @LindaFowler:

      Not all post-86 Fiesta has backstamps. There are none on the medium and small bowl (though you do find them on the large bowl). Some mugs have them. Some don’t.

      I don’t see them on sugar/creamer sets or 64 oz. pitchers, small butter dishes w/lids, nor on the new pasta bowls.

      I do see them on all my dinner plates, luncheon plates, salad plates, oval platters.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Allison

      I have a round platter in the forest green and it has small handles on it. There is no stamp but I have other Fiesta Ware pieces from the same time and the same color and when you look at the bottom they all have the same imperfections from when they were manufactured. I have not been able to find another platter that looks like this. These were all my great-grandmothers so I know all the other pieces I have are original Fiesta Ware but I just am not certain about this piece. Has anyone ever seen one of these before?

      Reply
  • Stephanie Waldrup

    I have a piece of fiesta that I’m sure is a newer piece. It’s a butter dish. It has a marking like the “H” but the mark is a backwards “C” or a “U” and an “N” to the right side of the backstamp. It looks very odd and I was wondering if you knew what it means. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Terri

    I found your site very helpful in identifying some older pieces I have. I have a question about a bowl that has the wet foot and 3 markings and fiesta written in lowercase letters underneath that are the letters HLC USA and under that number 3. this logo is not printed in black but is he bedded into the clay like the mold. I would appreciate any comments you may have on that.

    Reply
  • Leslie Slack

    My question is about Amberstone.. was it stamped with a Fiesta stamp? We are recently aquired a brown fully glazed bowl with rings and stamped with the original lowercase fiesta stamp. The only brown I can match it to is Amberstone.

    Reply
  • Lloyd Pruitt

    Hi, all. I recently purchased a turquoise bud vase, and then a pair of turquoise S&P shakers. They are NOT the same color, and I’m confused. The vase has fiesta in lower case script, with all of the letters connected. Below that it says HLC (possibly HLCo, hard to tell), and USA, both in block letters. I’ve done my research, but no one seems to have definitive answers. The vase seems more greenish when placed next to the S&P shakers (which are unmarked). I’m really only interested in the original colors, so I can use some help here. 🙂

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Lloyd,
      Sounds like a fun find! Apologies for my delayed response – after a cross-country move I feel like I’m just keeping my head above water. (Although I’m starting to catch up.) So colors on fiesta ware is a great question and it’s one that is hard to answer without being there to analyze in person. I could ask for pic’s but cameras and lighting conditions would pose too much of a variable. And also in early pieces you may find some slight differentiation. I would recommend talking w/local vintage shop owners to find a local expert you can take the three pieces to for review. Best of luck and enjoy! – Becky

      Reply
  • Amanda

    I received some turquoise large dinner plates I was told were Fiesta, with no markings at all. Does this mean they are fake?

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Amanda,
      Great question and while Fiestaware was diligent about marking their pieces, I can’t say with utter confidence that every single piece was marked. I would use all the other assessment tools in your tool box (coloring, feel, etc.) and then if you still feel good about their lineage, take them to a vintage shop owner to get an in person appraisal. Best of luck!

      Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Frank,
      What an excellent question – I’ve been looking and can’t find an exact date when the dry foot process began. I’ll keep looking, but hopefully one of our fellow vintage enthusiasts may be able to add to our comment thread and shed some light on this!

      Cheers,
      Becky

      Reply
  • Lloyd

    Hi! I have a mystery piece of Fiesta that I need some help with. I purchased a “turquoise” bud vase on ebay. It has the incised marking on the bottom “fiesta (lower case) and HLCo USA”. Seems original so far, right? However, the color had a hint of green to it, and is not the same as the saucer I bought for comparison, which is marked (ink-stamped) “GENUINE fiesta(lower case) HLCo USA”. It is also a much truer, vivid turquoise. So—what’s up with the bud vase? Any opinions?

    Reply
  • Christine Larsen

    I won an Ebay auction for a “Black Cat Homer Laughlin Fiesta dinner plate” When it arrived, there are no markings on the bottom of the plate!!! Have I been ripped off?? I bought a “Black Cat Server” (bowl) last month from the same seller and it is marked Fiesta on the bottom. Can you provide some input,please. Thanks Chris Larsen

    Reply
  • Charity

    Hi
    I bought a tripod candleholder. I cant be sure but i think the color is Tangerine. I know its not one of the original volors, but it has the lower f and all letters connected, Hlo and usa but no H. I thought post 86 has the H. Im confused. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    Reply
  • Arlene

    I have a miniature disc pitcher in a very light yellow..Old cream? It belonged to my great grandmother who died in the 50s. The piece has no markings..Is white on bottom. I read this size was not vintage… about 3.5″. How do I prove it is original if I want to sell it? Do you have history on this small size?

    Reply
  • Mary Uselton

    Hello! I am having trouble dating my dish due to the bottom being imprinted and all of my other pieces have been stamped. It is a blue color (maybe turqoise?) I just have started getting into collecting fiestaware and would love help identifying this piece. I emailed a picture to you.

    Reply
  • Judy Cowles

    Hi, I have a bunch of genuine fiesta that is stamped on but then there is also some that say fiesta, top row, with MLC or G, USA underneath. But they aren’t ink, it is imbedded in the dishes. Are these made from different dates? Also, the teacups, 6 are round handles and 2 with regular handles. I really have so many pieces, and where would be the best place to find pricing and places to sell? Sorry for all the questions

    Reply
  • Lora

    How can you tell the difference in the two “cobalt” colors? Will the vintage have the “old” stamp?

    Reply
  • Terri Hamilton

    I found a 6-1/4 inch tall pitcher/creamer. It is sort of a salmon/pink color. Looks new but not even sure if it is Fiesta. On the bottom is a stamped F with the little R with a circle around it. U.S.A. underneath F. To the side it says G3. Is it Fiesta? Is that a new Fiesta color? or is it fake? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Tomas

    I’m trying to go ‘lead free’ and already have a nice collection of white cups and saucers…. So my teacups aren’t stamped, while my saucers are… How would I know if the cups are OK?

    Reply
  • Beth

    I have just purchased a set from a couple that said they bought the dishes around 1986. Some have faint black stamps with FIESTA and the bowls have a “carved” fiesta. I’m wondering the ages and specifically whether they are lead free. I’d like to use them, rather than “collect” but I want to be sure they’re ok for the kids.

    Reply
  • Lynn St Cloud

    Hi. I have two green happy bowls that are 7″ in diameter. One is chartreuse and the other is between a medium green and a forest green. Both have incised fiesta and HLC USA. The fiesta is all in lower case letters. I have not found these on line or in any of the books I have. Can you tell me anything about them? Thank you.

    Reply
  • Lynn St Cloud

    Hi, I have two green nappy shaped bowls that are 7″ in diameter. One is chartreuse and the other is a color between medium green and forest green. They have incised on the bottom fiesta in lower case letters andHLC andUSA in uppercase letters. I can’t find them in the books or on-line. Can you tell me anything about them? Thank you. My email was incorrect on the previous note.

    Reply
  • Dana N

    I don’t know if this is still active, but I received a plum 5pc place setting in the original box. The bowl has a carved marking, but there is nothing on the other pieces. Does this happen often?

    Reply
      • Melissa King

        I just ordered a Claret Bisyro set through Bed Bath and Beyond and the bowl has a stamp but the plates have no markings at all. Is this normal? I am kind of worried and disappointed. I also ordered a Sage set through them that hasn’t been delivered yet. I ordered other colors directly from the factory and waiting for their arrival too compare.

        Reply
        • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

          Hi Melissa,
          We specialize in vintage Fiestaware pieces, it sounds like these are new orders placed? I’m not sure how modern Fiestaware pieces are marked, but I hope the factory can help you clarify what you’ve got – cheers!

          Reply
  • Pat

    Hi there, wondering abt the orange color. I have a cup and saucer with all the “correct” marks on the underside of the saucer (3 pin marks,”f”iesta with small letter f, cup handle round) I don’t see in your article this color mentioned anywhere. When did orange enter the market? From an estate sale of a pn elderly person, also have a yellow set with same stamp. Thanks for your response.

    Reply
  • Sherry Claus

    I have a beautiful large yellow bowl (11″ across the top, a little over 6 1/2″ tall and 5 1/2″ across the bottom) and cannot determine it’s age. It is marked (in the mold) “fiesta” in all lower case and “HLC USA” in block caps below. It’s all written in a circle. It’s not a nesting mixing bowl, nor is it sharply footed, although it is not a flat bottom. Help!

    Reply
  • wendy sitzmann

    Hi, I have a small light green bud vase. It says this fiesta
    HLC USA
    H
    Can you please tell me if this is a new or old piece?
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Sandra Rodriguez

    This isn’t a reply but a question. I saw a set of fiesta ware yesterday in light blue, which I haven’t seen in any site I have looked at. Did fiesta ware ever make any light blue dinnerware?

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Sandra,
      Thanks for the clarity. The blue tones for vintage Fiesta range from cobalt to robin egg’s and a turquoise hue. Never Fiestaware also includes a periwinkle and denim blue tone. Cheers!

      Reply
  • Larry parsons

    I just bought a old fiestaware dutch oven new sealed in the box.its very old.70s i would dare to guess.i dont want to break the factory sealed box.it has some numbers stenciled on the side.
    1. PC of 0/04
    Dutch oven 5qt
    Fiesta
    G98. 32271
    The g might be a 6.
    Has brown packaging tape with red fiesta on it.box is 14 1/2 x 11 x 6 1/2.box also has “ceramic ware do not drop” printed on it.

    Reply
  • David

    Does Fiesta ‘Ironstone’ (69-72) have Fiesta stamping? I have what I am pretty confident is a turf green dinner plate, bowl, cup saucer, with no markings at all (but are full glaze with sagger pin marks). Wondering if Antique Gold and ‘Mango’ (’69-72) Red pieces would also have no markings.

    Reply
  • David

    Another interesting question… How do you distinguish Mango Red (’69-’72) from Red (post-’59). Is there a difference? My limited understanding was that Mango Red was merely a re-name for the Fiesta ‘Ironstone’ line ’69 to ’72, and the size is the same 10″. Just wondering if it is ‘safe’ or appropriate to complete an Ironstone set with a vintage red plate not billed specifically as Ironstone or Mango Red…

    Reply
  • Mary

    I have this yellow glazed lidded teapot that after looking online looks very similar to Vintage Riviera Teapots by Homer Laughlin. It has a very small faint 79 (I believe) imprinted on the bottom of the teapot and a 5 (plus another number which I can’t read) on the lid. I couldn’t find any mention of numbers on the bottom of other teapots like this one so I was not sure if this was an original or replica. Thank you for your help. I am more than willing to send pictures.

    Reply
  • Jaylene Myers

    I’m curious about the deviled egg trays. Do the new ones have “fiesta” in lower case letters? I just bought one from someone on craigslist and it is tangerine with “fiesta” lower case.

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Jaylene,
      The newer pieces have the capitalized F’s – does your piece have a wet or dry foot? That’s another way to tell old from new (old will have a wet foot, with newer being dry). Enjoy!

      Reply
  • Robert

    Hi. I am new to this site. Very informative. What would be great is if you, or the people with questions, could post the pictures here along with any answers. This way we can all learn more! Thanks. Great blog.

    Reply
  • Marsha C

    I recently purchased 6 white Fiesta bowls from Macys. I have purchased some previously and flipped over the bowls, but do not see any stampings? Does Fiesta not put some kind of marking on their brand new lines?
    Thanks, for any info. I am just beginning to purchase Fiestaware.

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Marsha, Thanks for reaching out and great question. I’m not sure on the markings for new Fiesta – we focus on the vintage pieces. I tried to do some scanning on other sites and am not able to find much information – I would recommend asking a manager from that Macy’s homeware department. Enjoy!

      Reply
  • Larry Rau

    I believe I have the fiesta red stripe ivory (older) set. Not sure why red stripe is included, all the markings are pretty clear and it is more white then ivory. Have a very difficult time finding pieces.

    Reply
  • Mary-Anne

    Hello, I just found 37 pieces of old/older Fiestaware mixed pieces in a junkstore and I am thrilled to pieces…. Can anyone tell me is there a site that shows marking and the year the specific marking was produceed? Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Chelsie

    I have two green dinner plates. I can’t find a definitive way to tell if the plates are medium green or light green. I don’t want to sell them too high or too low! Can anyone help?

    Reply
  • Janice Roberts

    Hi Becky – I just bought a large collection of fiesta – some Harlequin and some Riviera. As a reseller, now I am struggling with determining age of some items. For some of the early promotional items ~ 8″ French casserole ~ cobalt figure 8 with yellow cream and sugar – were these items reproduced in later years?

    Reply
  • Brianna

    Hello, I’m new to collecting fiesta. I have some bowls that have the old lowercase back stamp and no curve in the lettering at all. But they don’t have mold markings. I also have some teacups. The colors are blue, yellow, white and rose. I haven’t found much yet about when White was released. Any info would be appreciated!

    Reply
  • rick

    I’m trying to find out why two of my ring handled tom & jerry cups have an additional letter on them, Its like someone put their initial on the piece when it was made. Can you help? One cup has a B and the other an L.

    Reply
  • Brigitte Turner

    Hi. I’m new to Fiestaware and acquired several pieces which, from doing a little research including your site, believe is Vintage or old pieces. I have a few green pieces and am having a very difficult time deciphering which particular green they are. I think a few of my 6 1/2” plates are light green but my 9 1/2” Nappy bowl might actually be medium green. I believe I might have a 12” yellow plate with a mold marking and rings around the wording, wet foot and has what looks like 3 pins marks under the marking. Could you guide me? Thanks

    Reply
  • David

    Can you identify the piece in what appears to be seamist in the following Goodwill auction for a ‘My First Fiesta’ oddball set? Looks sort of like a tiny wheelbarrel. And does the bidding make any sense to you? I don’t get it. It doesn’t have the plates, isn’t vintage, but it includes a cobalt mini pitcher and that green item. Perhaps it isn’t Fiesta but it’s driving the bidding? I can’t possibly bid on it but I’m curious… https://www.shopgoodwill.com/Item/55724008

    Reply
  • Mandy

    Does older or newer fiesta ware have anything stamped on the bottom? I’ve been told my whole life about this fiesta ware and some of it doesn’t have anything stamped on the bottom but looks exactly like the real fiesta ware. Does anyone know anything about it? Please help!!

    Reply
  • Jessica L Coe

    I was wondering if any Fiesta was ever just marked with Homer Laughlin USA and then the number and letters on the bottom to date it. It looks so much like fiesta

    Reply
  • Chris

    Does the wet foot/dry foot rule apply to salt and pepper shakers? Wondering how else I can date them as they don’t have a logo…and these are in Rose which could mean old or new.

    Reply
  • Christie

    Hello,
    I have a coralish color teapot with the stamp Homer Laughlin China on the bottom. It does not look like a traditional fiesta ware shape that I have seen but the coloring does. Any insight? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Krista Marchiafava

    I am looking to buy a pair of medium green fiesta salt & pepper on ebay. How can I be sure they are the old and not post 1984?

    Reply
    • Becky Oeltjenbruns Post author

      Hi Kritsa,
      Thanks for reaching out – the best way to tell if you can’t see the pieces in person is by the bottom of the piece. If the foot is wet (meaning the rim around the bottom is glazed just like the rest of the piece (not white, unglazed)) and the markings look like the ones featured in the article, you have an older piece. Best of luck!

      Reply
  • Sarah Gruber

    Hi,
    I have a set of fiesta ware in 4 colors: yellow, orange, green, and a sort of purply blue. Based on your description, I can’t really determine if it’s new or old. Stamp is straight across, HLC on top, fiesta
    in middle, MADE IN USA underneath. What do you think?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • Allan S.

    I have a “red” 6 1/4 inch “bread and butter” plate (1943 or earlier), and it has no brand markings at all. I know its real (with the three unglazed dots where the dish was on a stand during glazing), and its quite radioactive (11,851 CPM, 38.25 micro Sieverts/hr.). I believe small older items were sometimes not marked and are more rare. Photos available, thank you.

    Reply
  • Jill Dugaw

    Can anyone tell me about Fiesta enamel tea kettles? I got one in a junk store, but have no idea how old it may be.

    Reply
  • Lisa W

    Stamp is circular
    Homer Laughlin China Co
    Fiesta (R)
    USA WWB
    Lead Free

    I have found that the WWB means its production date is 2008 2nd quarter but the color appears to be yellow, which was not produced during this time. Also the word “Genuine” does not appear above Fiesta as it does on other pieces. Is this a fake?

    Reply
  • V Cook

    Can anyone date and possibly place a value on a vintage piece I inherited? It’s a cobolt red round sort of bowl which sits on its smaller round base. Approx 2.5 inches across opening.
    Marking-
    fiesta (l/c)
    HLC. USA
    H
    I can’t find any info about the single H below the HLC USA
    The top opening is not perfectly circular it has a very slight error in the curve.
    Any info appreciated thanks

    Reply
  • Judy Langlety

    I have found “for sale” online a canister with lid that looks a golden color. They say it is about 20 years old with a seal that still works. The bottom markings are small “f” fiesta HLC USA. I am perplexed. Any ideas? Thank you

    Reply

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