Announcing the launch of Cool Vintage Kitsch, a new blog series focusing on the history and value of interesting, collectible items available at upcoming Kuzak’s Closet estate sales! This week Taylor is sharing her all-time favorite dinnerware pattern, designed and produced in sunny California: Franciscan California Desert Rose china. Visit our sale this week in Portola Valley and see THE largest collection of Franciscan California Desert Rose we have ever seen!
As a California-native it is understandable that I am obsessed with everything from the Golden State, but when I first discovered the Franciscan California Desert Rose china pattern while working at one of my very first Kuzak’s Closet estate sales not only did I swoon, I fell in love. The Mojave Desert always comes to mind when I hear the name, with it’s hearty sand and delicate, beautiful flowers the actual desert and china pattern seem inner-changeable.
History of Franciscan “California Desert Rose”
It is spring 1940 … something. Imagine a bright, cozy kitchen in a sunny Los Angeles suburb. Fluffy pancakes with warm syrup and piping hot coffee straight from the percolator are being served on this classy, yet casual dinnerware. With its raised, hand-decorated roses and delicate foliage, California Desert Rose is a beautiful, classic homage to it’s home state and quickly becoming a staple in homes throughout the country.
A California original, Franciscan dinnerware was launched in 1934 by Gladding, McBean & Co in Glendale. The Franciscan line was originally sold as pottery featuring bright colors with designs heavily inspired by Mexican folk pottery. Produced while in the middle of the Great Depression, Gladding, McBean & Co opted to name their earthenware line “Franciscan” in an effort to promote a more friendly, casual image portraying California style.
In 1941 the company changed gears and released two china patterns featuring a raised-relief, hand pained underglaze pattern: Franciscan Apple and California Desert Rose. The desert rose pattern was inspired by Southern California freelance artist Annette Honeywell and redesigned in-house by Mary Winans. Over the next 50 years, California Desert Rose would become the most popular dinnerware pattern sold in America. Chosen as one of the “Top 500 Pattens of the 20th Century”, it was exclusively produced in the United States between 1942-1984. In the mid 1980’s the Franciscan china line was purchased by Wedgewood in England and production in the United States ceased.
How to Determine the Age of Franciscan “California Desert Rose”
1941-1958: Pieces were stamped and marked with blank ink. Larger serving pieces have the word “California” within the stamp.
1958-1976: Pieces were stamped with the “TV Screen” logo that looks like a rounded rectabgle. Brown ink was used through the 1960’s. Black ink was used in the early 1970’s.
1976-1984: Pieces were stamped in black ink with the word “Franciscan” and the trademark “Flying F”.
1985-2003: Production was moved to England. Pieces are stamped “Made in England”.
2004-present: Production was moved to China. Pieces often have a pink flower back stamp.
What Are Pieces Worth?
Pieces from the original 1941-1947 series are highly coveted by collectors, with rarer individual pieces (in pristine condition) of this era considered museum quality: candlesticks, ashtray, bell, varying size pitchers – because of their extremely limited run and survival over the last 74 years. Like most collectible items, the date of production and condition are the most important factor. Because of the popularity of this china pattern and availability on websites like eBay and Replacements, Inc. prices are competitive, and pieces stamped “Made in USA” are overwhelming the most valuable. Example: “Made in USA” series dinner plates are selling for approximately $10-$20/per piece on Replacements, Inc. while items with smaller production runs like tiered serving trays are selling for over $100/per piece.
Are You A Collector or Enthusiast? Check out the Kuzak’s Closet blog post tomorrow for all of the details about our upcoming estate sale in Portola Valley – we may just have the piece you have been needing, to start … or add to your Franciscan California Desert Rose collection!
Taylor House is a professional organizer at Kuzak’s Closet who also assists with estate sales. Taylor loves history, popular culture and has a passion for everything relating to California, the 1980’s, art, design, books, music and pretty much whatever strikes her fancy in the moment.