The Desert Rose: Building a set of Franciscan Dinnerware

By Clinton J. Holloway


Recently an elderly lady in my church gave me several boxes of dishes. She used to entertain a lot but is now in her 80s and no longer needed so large a dinner service. Because she kept what she and her husband needed for everyday use, the pieces she gave to me are an incomplete set. What do you do with a partial set of dishes? Fortunately, the dishes are an easily recognizable pattern that has been in production for a long time, so I can either sell the partial set or buy individual pieces to complete the set for my own use.


The dishes are Franciscan and the pattern is the Desert Rose, which is reminiscent of the popular Knock Out roses which are in full bloom just now. (See dinner plate at right). Made of ceramic, rather than porcelain, the Franciscan line is great for daily use but pretty enough to be used on special occasions. It has been in production since the late 1930s, so there is opportunity to buy both collectible and pieces of a more recent vintage.


Because the pattern has remained the same, the pieces can easily be mixed and matched with both vintage and modern.  The Desert Rose background is cream featuring a border of pink roses with green accents and leaves; the rim almost looks like a twisted stem. One sweet detail is a rose bud finial, as seen on the butter dish offered in Booth 103, known as Second Chance, for $40 (photo, left). Second Chance has for sale about 32 pieces of the ceramic dinnerware, which originated in California, in a range of prices. Perfect dinner plates are $12 each while chipped examples are $6. As the dinnerware is ceramic it is prone to crazing in the glaze, which is acceptable. Just stay away from pieces that are cracked. Second Chance offers cups at $8.


Booth 209 has about a dozen pieces, artfully displayed, in their space. Similarly, dinner plates are $10.99 each while cups and saucers $12.95 a set (photo, below right). Dinner plates, cups and saucers, salad bowls, dessert bowls and plates and accessory pieces seem to be the most popular, though larger serving pieces can be found. These command a high price.


Desert Rose appears to be Franciscan’s most popular pattern, for obvious reasons of beauty, attractiveness and durability. Other popular patterns include Apple and Ivy, and at Booth T-128 in GasLamp Too I found a rarer example of the Tulip pattern. Six dinner plates are marked at $110.


The Franciscan service is still in production but has gone through several owners since the 1930s. Today the dishes are manufactured by a mega consortium that goes by WWRD, which stands for Waterford, Wedgewood Royal Doulton.


So what to do with my incomplete set? By browsing at both GasLamp Locations I learned I could easily build a complete set, if I wished. However, as our kitchen is in navy blue and yellow, the lovely Desert Rose does not match our decorating style. So because I wanted to move them quickly, I decided to offer my boxes as a lot, rather than by the piece. Visit Booth W-412, Tennessee Treasures, where you can find about 65 pieces for $100! Happy shopping! 

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