Fiesta Disaster!

What a disaster, I have accidentally destroyed some of my precious FiestaWare dishes! I was carefully washing them by hand, when a stack of drying dishes started to slide. I grabbed them to stop the slide when two dishes hit together and exploded. That is $120 of collectible FiestaWare, smashed to pieces!


Broken FiestaWare


The worst part is the little 5 1/2 inch bowl, it’s one of the rarest colors, Medium Green, so it’s worth $80, according to the latest Fiesta Price Guide. The Chartreuse Dessert Bowl is only worth $40, but it is one of my favorite colors. I had two matching Chartreuse bowls in mint condition, they’re my favorite bowls since they’re just the right size for almost any place setting. But now I only have one. And I have fewer Dessert Bowls than anything else in my collection. Dammit.

I inherited my FiestaWare collection from my Mother. I used to take my Mom around to estate sales and antique shops, we spent years accumulating a massive collection, and I became a big fan of Fiesta myself. She gave each of my 6 siblings a huge set of Fiesta. She left me her personal collection in her will, all her best pieces she could not bear to part with. I helped her find most of these pieces, so I figure it’s just as much my collection as hers.

My Mom kept all her Fiesta in a big display case, but she also used them as everyday dishes. She always said, “What’s the use of having such lovely dishes if you never USE them?” No doubt the wear and tear reduced the value of the pieces as collectables. But that’s what’s nice about Fiesta, it’s collectable, but most of the pieces are not so expensive that you feel bad when you break one. Usually.

I remember one day when I broke one of my Mom’s favorite Medium Green Dessert Bowls. I microwaved something in the bowl (Fiesta is microwave-safe) but something in the food developed a hot spot. I heard a large BANG from the microwave and the bowl was split in half. My Mom looked like she was going to faint, but she said not to worry, that’s the risk you take when using Fiesta as everyday dishes, sometimes you break one. I only found out years later, when I looked in the Fiesta Price Guide, that dish was worth $800! No wonder it was one of her favorites.

Fortunately, my accident isn’t quite as bad as it seems. The Chartreuse bowl is a total loss, but the Medium Green bowl was actually worthless. It had a huge crack in it, destroying its value, but the damage wasn’t visible when the dishes were on display. This was a clever strategy my Mom used, I only discovered it when I acquired the collection and did a full inventory. I found several pieces like that, I call them “fillers,” you put them on display, stacked in with the good dishes. Her fillers are rare and expensive pieces with major hidden flaws, she must have paid almost nothing for them. But the fillers make it look like you have a huge collection of Fiesta in all the best, most expensive colors. I should really just toss them out, they’re worthless, but I like my Mom’s clever little strategy.

But it seems this strategy has backfired. When I grabbed the sliding dishes, I barely touched the cracked bowl when it split apart, and the energy of the split transferred to the Dessert Bowl underneath. Sometimes this happens with ceramics, the interior stresses store a lot of energy, when it finally lets go, it can spray shards and crack other dishes. I think maybe I will remove these dangerous dishes from my collection. Oh well.

4 thoughts on “Fiesta Disaster!”

  1. With a name like Fiesta I would’ve imagined breaks to be very common what with all the celebrating, throwing and spinning these dishes must be constantly subjected to.
    [Ha! Well it’s not called PinataWare. Fiesta is like a lot of classic American collectibles. It originated in the Great Depression, when it sold for pennies. It was colorful and cheerful in a time with little cheer. It was durable and cheap so it was used as everyday dishes, but very little of it is in good condition today. That makes it a really great collectible. –Charles]

  2. I was on a tour of my alma mater, Reed College, last week, including the nuclear reactor and they have a display of a couple of orange Fiestas and learned, though you probably know, that the orange is from using Uranium. They have some counters next to them ticking away showing the radioactive decay!
    Apparently safe to eat from (now). But you can’t send them through the mail post 9/11.
    [Hmm.. I wonder how EBay sellers ship their “Radioactive Red” Fiesta. I have a lot of red pieces, I eat off them all the time. A little radioactivity never hurt anyone and it might even be good for you, Google on “Radiation Hormesis” for info. My favorite Fiesta color is Ivory, nobody likes it because it’s just an off-white color, Fiesta collectors prefer the colorful pieces. But I recently discovered why it is so hard to find: Ivory is also made from a uranium glaze, it’s radioactive too! -Charles]

  3. I just used my ivory bowl in the microwave and it broke into about 10 large and small pieces. This was the first time I put my ivory ing the microwave. I have put the white in many times. Does anyone know if there is a warranty? I just purchased the ivory set last month.
    [This article is about classic Fiestaware, they are often over 50 years old and never under warranty. Consult with the store where you purchased your newly purchased Fiestaware for information on modern warranties, if any. –Charles]

  4. We have the seafoam green as everyday dishes.
    If my husband knew of their worth…I would
    most likely have to put them “up”

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