Part of my vintage Fiesta collection

The First Fiesta I Ever Bought

My family moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico from Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1960s. It was a shock on many levels.

We now lived on a street ending at the desert — sand & rocks, not grass & trees!

Had to drink huge glasses of iced tea after first eating surprisingly hot Mexican food!

Also, some people thought us Okies spoke with an accent! 8-D

Part of my vintage Fiesta collection

However, that move turned out to be very good in many respects. New Mexico offered beautiful vistas, friendly people, & delightful architecture. AND, I discovered what would become my lifetime collection: vintage Fiesta dishes.

Fiesta is all about color & circles

One day, a new school friend introduced me to a charming antique mall. Since the holidays were close, I started looking for potential Christmas gifts. Nothing really grabbed my attention until I saw some colorful dishes. They came in a wide range of hues & had concentric circles on most surfaces.

I was particularly drawn to a bright blue & orange salt & pepper set. Well, I figured they weren’t an actual set because of the different colors. But the rounded shapes looked exactly alike. I was looking over the dealer’s packed-with-dishes table more than a few minutes before someone asked if I needed help.

“Yes I do, thanks,” I told the older woman. “Can you tell me anything about this salt & pepper pair?”

“Of course,” she replied right away, “that’s Fiesta.”

Love seeing Fiesta for sale!

I must have looked confused at that answer, so she pointed to more colorful dishes on another table. “Like those plates,” she said.

Wandering over to look at those dishes, I asked another question, “What exactly are ‘fiesta’ dishes? Are they used for Mexican holidays or something?”

“Oh no!” she laughed. “Come here & let me show you,” taking me by the hand to a third table. She picked up a plate that looked like it was the same rich blue as one of the dishes I’d looked at earlier. Then she turned it over to show the script mark underneath.

Fiesta dishes set on tablecloth for lunch

“Ah, now I get it,” I said. “Fiesta is the name of those dishes.” That helpful dealer, whose name I’ve completely forgotten now, pointed out other Fiesta she was selling. But I still liked the colors & shape of the salt & pepper set, so that’s what I bought, intending it as a gift for my mother.

It was after we moved to New Mexico that Mother’s preference for bright colors really became apparent. Maybe it was the rich Southwest design influence? All I know for sure is that she truly liked the cobalt & red (Fiesta for ‘orange’), S&P I gave her. And she later painted all the kitchen cabinets bright orange.

Charming tomato S&P displayed with Fiesta

I inherited that salt & pepper after my mother died. I also have a much older, deep orange-red S&P set — pottery adorably shaped like tomatoes — that she originally got from her mother.

Stacks of Fiesta displayed with vintage platter

Years later, when I finally had my own place, I seriously started collecting Fiesta. (And I mean seriously!) Now, when I move & have to pack up all those boxes of dishes, my father always jokes that I probably have enough Fiesta to serve dinner for 60 people. “No,” I reply, “I’m sure I only have service for 35!”

And it all started with that salt & pepper….

(Speaking of which, I recently moved & have not yet unpacked my boxes of Fiesta. And for some reason, I don’t have any photos of that original S&P, sorry! All photos used here are mine.)

Published by

Dana

Writer, marketer, photographer, collector!

4 thoughts on “The First Fiesta I Ever Bought”

  1. Really, I am deprived! 8-D

    And must say that I’m a snob about collecting only the original 6 colors of Fiesta. Love mixing them up too when setting a table. Cobalt soup bowl placed on light green dinner plate, pairing red coffee cup with turquoise saucer, and using ivory salt & yellow pepper.

    Feast of colors!

  2. Love the pic of your old “shabby chic” curio cabinet packed with beautiful vintage Fiesta, Dana!

  3. Hi Sara:

    I found this charmer in Berkeley CA at a shop called It’s Her Business — with a great owner too. Had seen others like this one, but not with glass on 3 sides. That’s what makes a real display cabinet!

    Here’s another, larger ‘medical’ cabinet (also found in Berkeley but at a different shop), that I’ve used to display my collection of children’s dishes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/danagraves/382035295/in/set-288842

    Lots of storage below!

    Happy collecting,
    Dana

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