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Fiesta Markings: Dating Your Vintage Fiestaware

Posted on November 09, 2009 by FiestaFan

Have you ever sorted through your cabinet of Fiestaware and wonder: "How old is this Fiestaware? How much is this Fiestaware worth? How can I tell if my Fiestaware is old or vintage Fiestaware?" The answer to those questions is neither simple nor definitive. There are dozens of markings on Fiestaware and they are often difficult to read or applied with little uniformity. Still, there are a few ways you can examine Fiesta bottom marks and Fiestaware stamps in order to determine how old Fiestaware is. Before trying to identify your Fiesta marking, it"s important to note that there are two types of Fiesta logo stamps - ink Fiesta logo stamps and imprinted Fiesta markings. The clues for these different stamps are very different and are not interchangeable. So, what holds true for an ink Fiesta stamp is not necessarily the same rule for an imprinted Fiesta marking! Very important.

Fiesta backstamps are the ink markings that appear on the bottom of the plate. These Fiesta markings all feature the word "Fiesta" in some form as well as some marking identifying Homer Laughlin as the manufacturer. With Fiesta backstamps that are in INK ONLY, you can identify and old piece of Fiestaware by the case of the letters. Remember these rules:

  • If all letters on the "Fiesta" logo are lower case, then the piece of Fiesta is old.
  • If the letters on the "Fiesta" logo are upper case, then the piece of Fiesta is new.

Today, there are four (possibly more) different Fiesta markings. These all have capital letters and often have the words "genuine" and "lead free." Update: For some nice pictures that illustrate a piece of Fiestaware with a vintage looking color but updated ink backstamps, check out these shots taken over at the Selling Vintage blog.

Fiesta Markings for Imprinted Fiesta Logos

Imprinted Fiesta markings are both difficult to read and have many, many variations. It is very difficult to tell whether a Fiestaware piece is old from its imprinted marking - but it is easy to tell if it is new by the appearance of an "H." Newer Fiesta pieces now have an H stamped below the logo. This was a recent addition, so not all new Fiestaware will have it. However, these rules hold true:

  • An "H" appearing on an imprinted Fiestaware marking means it is DEFINITELY new.
  • No "H" appearing on an imprinted Fiestaware marking means it MAY BE old but could quite possibly be new.

Circular Fiestaware Markings

Another good indicator of a new piece of Fiestaware is a the new, circular logo. These logos will have a FIESTA HLC USA in a circular pattern, where the word "Fiesta" is actually part of the circle. Again, this is indicative of a new Fiestaware piece but it"s absence is not proof that it is an old piece of Fiesta.

Original Fiesta Markings

The original Fiesta markings from between 1936 and 1972 are identifiable in that they include only:

  • The word "Fiesta" written in a handwritten styling in all lowercase letters
  • The letters HLCO (standing for Homer Laughlin China Co. Sometimes appearing as H-L-Co)
  • The letters USA or the words Made in USA.
  • The word "Genuine"

Each of these characteristics has its own, somewhat hard to nail down history.

The F in Fiestaware

The F in Fiestaware has changed considerably since the 1930s. The original Fiesta "F" is always lower case and has no loops. The rest of the words in Fiesta are interconnected. In 1986, when Fiesta was revived, the F in Fiesta was given a distinctive loop, making it appear uppercase. Also, Fiesta started using the Trademark (TM) and Registration (R) symbols after 1986. The remaining letters became disconnected from the F and were then made into all capital letters.

"Genuine" Fiestaware

The word "Genuine" began appearing sometime in the 1940s. This was in response to the many imitation Fiestaware pieces that were produced in the wake of Fiesta"s success.

Lead Free Fiestaware

The words "Lead Free" appeared after January 1992. Read our other post for more information about lead and cadmium in Fiestaware.

Date Codes

Also in1992, Fiestaware began bearing date codes. The year is noted by two letters and the month is noted by a single letter. For example, VV is the year code for 2007 and B is the month code for February. A piece made in February 2007 would be stamped with VVB. Homer Laughlin has used date codes on commerical products since 1960, but these codes did not appear on Fiesta until 1992. Here"s a handy chart for date codes:

Homer Laughlin Date Codes for Year: Homer Laughlin Date Codes for Month:
  • GG - 1992
  • HH - 1993
  • II - 1994
  • JJ - 1995
  • KK - 1996
  • LL - 1997
  • MM - 1998
  • NN - 1999
  • OO - 2000
  • PP - 2001
  • QQ - 2002
  • RR - 2003
  • SS - 2004
  • TT - 2005
  • UU - 2006
  • VV - 2007
  • WW - 2008
  • XX - 2009
  • A - January
  • B - February
  • C - March
  • D - April
  • E - May
  • F - June
  • G - July
  • H - August
  • I - September
  • J - October
  • K - November
  • L - December

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of Fiestaware markings, this may help you provide clues as to whether your Fiesta is vintage or new. In most cases, it is far easier to determine that Fiestaware is new rather than attempting to prove that it is old. This can be quite frustrating, as many newer Fiesta pieces do resemble original Fiestaware markings. But by knowing which elements appeared later, you can be sure to avoid anyone trying to pass off new Fiesta as old! Read more about Fiesta history on our page Fiesta History

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27 Responses to “Fiesta Markings: Dating Your Vintage Fiestaware”

  1. mitch

    - 26th Nov, 09 02:11am

    Are all Fiestaware pieces marked like plates ect ect.. I HAVE SOME MIXED IN THAT ARE NOT MARKED? Are they somthing else? Thanks

  2. Discount Fiestaware

    - 26th Nov, 09 01:11pm

    It is a bit frustrating but indeed not all Fiestaware is marked. There is old and new Fiesta that have no stamp at all, such as the gusto bowls. It can be tough to date Fiesta with no markings – it all ces down to identifying the color and determining if that particular piece was produced by HLC. Tell us more about your Fiesta

  3. Karlie

    - 27th Nov, 09 12:11am

    My father has a turquoise cream soup bowl, with the old fiesta markings. Do you have any idea how much it’s worth?

  4. joel marks

    - 13th Dec, 09 07:12am

    The most insane thing is that my family has been selling Fiesta for 13 years, and I never knew about the dating after 1992. That was very informative, and know i am looking in my cupboards to see how old my new fiesta is

  5. Jane Schenck

    - 2nd Jan, 10 08:01pm

    I recently came into a large collection of Fiesta ware. Most has the imprinted mark fiesta and made in USA with the HLC mark. The newer ones have the ink stamp. But one piece, a covered butter dish only has a rather crude Fiesta molded into the bottom, the E in fiesta looks like uppercase, but only the E, and in another area at the side of the bottom of the dish is a small white C . It is in a rose color. I read somewhere about fake butter dishes. My gut says this is a fake but then I wonder if it is rare? I have 64 pieces and this is the only one that looks strange. Any ideas will be appreciated.

  6. Debbie Fiedler

    - 5th May, 10 04:05pm

    I have a cobalt Fiestaware cup the is double-stamped. The main is underglaze and is fiesta – small “F” with loop. It includes “HLC” above and “USA” beneath. Stamped at a right angle, in black ink, is the new “lead free” FIESTA stamp. I’m confused – can you provide insigt?
    Thanks.

  7. Discount Fiestaware

    - 5th May, 10 04:05pm

    Hi Debbie – that is peculiar indeed! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Cobalt was one of the original colors and ran from 1936 to 1951. However, the loop in the F makes me believe that it may be from after 1986, when the color was reintroduced. Homer Laughlin went “lead free” in 1986, but I don’t believe that they started using the ink stamp with lead free until the 90s. I’ll look into this more when I have some time. My guess is that the piece is from the late 80s, early 90s. Perhaps it was fired in 1986 but sat in storage for awhile and then they put the lead free stamp on it as an after thought before shipping it out.

    Thanks for reading!

  8. Elizabeth

    - 4th Jun, 10 11:06pm

    Thank you for the information and the pictures. One thing that I have noticed about older (vintage) pieces and some (newer) pieces being passed off as vintage, is the weight of the piece. If you have an older piece, pick it up and feel it’s weight, then pick up the supposed older piece, you can readily tell that is not true. At least that is what I have done and think is true.
    Lastly, don’t you just love the colors? If only I had more money and a bigger kitchen to hold all that lovely fiestaware!

  9. Judy

    - 1st Jul, 10 06:07pm

    Question……I have 7 pieces Fiesta. I know they are from the late 30’s or early 40’s as they were my mother’s. 3 are not marked – cobalt saucer, green dinner plate, ivory dinner plate. The other 4 (2 shallow wide bowls (ivory, gold)- 1 tourq saucer – 1 orange dinner plate) are marked “GENUINE fiesta HLC USA. Did they produce dinnerware without markings in this (late 30’s or early 40’s) time period?? What is best way to sell them?

  10. Gloia

    - 1st Jul, 10 10:07pm

    While cleaning out my 94 yrs. old aunt’s house, I found a turqouise gallon picnic jug with a green/yellow/red decal label with the words “FIESTA Insulated Picnic Jug” with a dancing black lady on top of the letter “E”. The bottom of the jug is imprinted with “Made in USA”. Is this a Fiestaware item?

  11. Cheryl Steiner

    - 17th Aug, 10 08:08pm

    I just purchase a yellow ware bowl by Homer Laughlin and the markings on it are J 42 N 8 can you please help me with the dating of this item.

  12. Margie

    - 18th Aug, 10 07:08pm

    I inherited a place setting for twelve including serving bowls, creamer and pitcher, gravy boat ,etc. from my mother. I know it is old, because I remember it from childhood and I am now retired.I know this is vintage ware but none of the pieces have any markings on the backs. Why is this?

  13. Discount Fiestaware

    - 18th Aug, 10 07:08pm

    Hi Margie – There are two likely explanations: (A) It is an imitation or (B) it is genuine, but simply doesn’t have markings. My bet is on the latter–for some reason, Homer Laughlin just chose not to mark some of their pieces. There’s no rhyme or reason to the unmarked ones, but you can be sure that they are pre-1980s. This makes it difficult to date, but it’s not impossible. You’ll just have to go by color and shape. I recommend picking up a book from the library. Try The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Fiesta by Sharon and Bob Huxford or Warman’s Fiesta.

    If you suspect they are fake, take a look at the rings (if it’s a plate). Are they evenly spaced? Or do they get closer and closer as it nears the center (sort of like a spiral or a tree trunk)? Genuine Fiesta has concentric circles that get closer and closer together. Evenly spaced circles is a sign of a fake.

  14. Discount Fiestaware

    - 18th Aug, 10 08:08pm

    Hard to say, though I can tell you it’s post-1992 (when the date codes appeared). Might it actually say JJ 42 N 8? If so, then it is from 1995. If you see NN, then it could be from 1999. Yellow Fiestaware ran from 1987 – 2002, so you can be assured that it is in that date range

  15. Theresa Brewer

    - 22nd Aug, 10 09:08pm

    I have just recently purchased new Fiestaware. I am trying to learn about the markings. My new Paprika teacup also has a double marking on it. Anyone have an explanation?

  16. Sherry

    - 5th Sep, 10 01:09am

    I was wondering if I could get some help. I recently found a Fiesta Disc pitcher in mint condition. It is green in color, has all lowercase writing on the bottom saying “fiesta” Made in USA. Above the fiesta writing, there is a halmark of what appears to be a “H” with and “L” going through it. I can also make out a light indication of a seam on the sides of the pitcher.

    I am wondering if it could be a medium green vintage piece although it is hard to identify the color online. The other option is that it could be a sea mist newer piece but if that is the case, wouldn’t the markings on the bottom be different ( uppercase, leadfree etc) ? I would describe the green as a darker mint green color (doesn’t have a bluish tint). It is heavy and the color is solid throughout.

    Thank you.

  17. Linda

    - 13th Sep, 10 06:09pm

    I have fiesta ware with numbers on the bottom of the bowls..Can anyone help?

  18. Susan

    - 8th Jan, 11 01:01pm

    I have a couple pieces that have no markings. Are these truly fiestaware?

  19. mandy

    - 15th Jan, 11 12:01pm

    I have a question about the stamps – on the bottom of my 3 pieces, “fiesta” is all in lowercase letters, which should indicate it is “old” and not the post86 products, however on the bottom of the Figure 8 Tray, all the way over on one side (towards the rim) there is a capital letter “A.” There is no double letter code there with it or anywhere else. It is definitely not a raised “H” … it is very visibly an “A.” All 3 pieces are cobalt. I received it as a set and it is the Figure 8 Tray, Bud Vase and I believe the last piece is a Creamer (no lid). Do you have any thoughts on the capital letter “A” or on wether it is actually “old”/vintage or new?

    Thanks!!

  20. mandy

    - 17th Jan, 11 01:01am

    Is anyone still monitoring this board?

    Mandy, sorry about that. This site has been having issues. We will try to keep up with comments much better than we have in the past.

  21. Mark

    - 24th Jan, 11 03:01am

    Answer for Sherry. Many newer pieces use the older Fiesta logo with the lower case F. This means the item was made from an original (1936-72) mold. HLC did not change the logo in the older molds.

  22. Penguinlady

    - 30th Mar, 11 02:03pm

    Sherry, the original greenish color was known as “seafoam,” which may also be a better description of the color than “mint.” Perhaps you can find a resource, print or online, that shows that color. If you search for “mint,” you probably won’t find it. Search for “seafoam.”

  23. Lisa Lundquist

    - 25th Jun, 11 05:06pm

    I just bought a Fiesta accessory; a light green plastic tea pot that is insulated. I paid quite a bit for it, but I’d never seen one before, and I’ve been collecting Fiestaware since 1995…it’s marked Genuine Fiesta Accessories Authorized Licensee of The Homer Laughlin China Co by Metro Marketing Made in China

    It’s not in the Fiestaware book, although my book needs to be replaced, it’s pretty old.

    Any idea what year this came from, and how much I should have paid?

    Lisa Lundquist

  24. Rebecca

    - 19th Aug, 11 09:08pm

    I found a great pink gravy boat for my sister who is slowly adding to her pink kitchen and I started trying to find out the age of this item and found your site. I still can’t tell though! LOL It is imprinted “fiesta”. lower case. below that is imprinted MADE IN U S A. To the right of the word fiesta is the letter H. Above the word fiesta is a funny symbol that looks like an arial font lower case t with little arcs on the end of the cross-part of the t. They are all imprinted except the H is raised. Is this the pink from the 1950’s or the new one they stopped making in 2005? Thank you for any information you can give me. (I have the new PLUM in my kitchen–LOVE IT!!!!!!!!)

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