Before Christmas, I came across two Fiesta
finds (okay, steals) on ebay. One was a Riviera “Mexicana” platter that the seller had mismarked as Universal Potteries. (A quick lookup with Google confirmed that Universal Potteries never made ANYTHING that looked like Riviera.) The platters, whether solid or decaled like the one I bought, typically start at $25 and go up from there I was the lone bidder so I got it for the opening bid of $12.99.
The other was a Kitchen Kraft cake plate for $0.99 that typically commands a $30 to $75 pricetag. The seller described it as “unmarked Fiesta plate,” but I knew what it was when I spotted the photo.
I felt like the American Pickers, except I only had to tap a few keystrokes and know what I was looking at to unearth my treasures.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mr. Official and I scouted out the Fiesta dish “outlet” on Sevierville Highway as we headed home from Gatlinburg several weeks ago. They had some nice vintage pieces, along with new factory seconds and (maybe) first quality items, which were overpriced. Shrug. We were in a tourist trap, so the markup was expected and it was still fun to look.
Among the vintage pieces was a stack of cream soup bowls they had tagged for $65 each. Which is about the going rate if you have pristine-quality pieces and a willing buyer. (I paid about $10 each for mine, and accepted a couple with chips in the mix.) But, here’s the kicker: they had marked them as onion soup bowls, which retail for about ten times that amount.
Now granted, for those of us living in 2012, we don’t usually differentiate between cream soup and onion soup bowls. Even our fussiest china dishes probably have just a single bowl for each place setting, and it serves soup, cereal, ice cream, fruit, pudding or whatever requires a bowl. But back in the day, there were special dishes and serving pieces for just about everything. And whether you know Fiesta or not, there’s no mistaking these two pieces once you see them:
|Cream soup bowls with lug handles|
|Onion soup bowls with Nautilus handles and lids|
Let’s hope no unsuspecting buyer thinks they’re getting a steal based on the misleading tag, which could happen if you just know the Fiesta lore and know that onion soup bowls are exceedingly rare and expensive.
I have collected things just because I liked them, and didn’t really care what they were called or what they were worth because I wasn’t spending much on any of them.
|a “pig in a poke”|
In fact, that’s how my Fiesta collection began. Along with several plant collections (roses, hostas, daylilies, heucheras…the list goes on.)
But I caution anyone who is ready to move from dabbling dilettante to serious collector to do your homework first. You don’t need to become a walking encyclopedia of details on the object of your desire, but at least know where to go for answers before you get caught up in the excitement of finding a treasure. It might be a great buy, or it might turn out to be a proverbial “pig in a poke.”
I’ve found the more I learn about Fiesta, the more I appreciate the pieces I come across. Sometimes I have the fun of unearthing a piece from the dark, dusty recesses of a salvage store. I wipe away layers of dirt and grime to see it is, then try to act nonchalant as I hand it to the cashier. Other times, I simply admire a gleaming, beautiful piece that is proudly displayed by someone who knows what they have, and what it’s worth.
So what do you collect, and why do you love it?