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Homer Laughlin China Company

The Homer Laughlin China Company is an American ceramics manufacturer located in Newell, West Virginia, United States, which is best known for producing the Fiesta line of dinnerware. Homer Laughlin is one of two potteries under the HLC Inc. brand, the other being Hall China.

The Homer Laughlin China Company
Private, Subsidiary
IndustryCeramics
Founded1871; 147 years ago (1871)
FoundersHomer Laughlin
Shakespeare Laughlin
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Websitewww.hlcdinnerware.com

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
The visitor's entrance at the Homer Laughlin China Company.

The Homer Laughlin China Company initially began as Laughlin Pottery in East Liverpool, Ohio. The company was started in 1871 by brothers Shakespeare and Homer Laughlin. However, Shakespeare would later leave the company in 1879.[1][2] In 1889, William Edwin Wells joined Homer and seven years later the two would incorporate. Homer would sell his interest to Wells shortly thereafter. The firm experienced rapid growth and opened a facility in Newell, West Virginia in 1903. By the late 1920s all production was centered at the West Virginia factory and the Ohio site was abandoned.[3].

"Peak production for the company was in 1948 when they produced 10,129,449 dishes."[4]

In 2010, Homer Laughlin purchased The Hall China Company in East Liverpool, and under the new HLC, Inc. moniker the two brands are the sole potteries in the area.[5] As of 2015 the company continues to manufacture all of its products in the United States.[6] A visitor center, museum, and factory outlet are maintained at its headquarters.

Dinnerware linesEdit

 
The retailing floor at the company's factory outlet store.

In the 1920s the firm advertised itself as the largest pottery company in the world[citation needed]. Estimates of production range from 25,000 to 35,000 different patterns since production started.

Fiesta

Homer Laughlin began producing the popular and colorful Fiesta line of dinnerware in 1936. Fiesta dinnerware continued to be produced through the late 1960s, with a number of new colors offered before the entire line was phased out in 1973. Fiesta was re-introduced by the company in 1986, and remains in production to this day.[7] The new Fiesta line contains a number of pieces produced from the original molds, as well as brand new pieces designed for modern day use. Like the original line, the current day production features an evolving number of colors.

Other Retail Lines

In addition to Fiesta, two other lines of colorful dinnerware in bright, solid-colored glazes were introduced in the 1930s. Harlequin was introduced in 1938 as a less expensive alternative to Fiesta available at Woolworth's stores. They also produced Riviera dinnerware [1938], which is distinctive for its triple-scalloped edges. Riviera was available in red, yellow, light green, mauve blue, ivory [during the war] and occasionally cobalt blue. Production of Riviera ended circa 1948-49. Harlequin was produced until 1964 and was briefly reintroduced in 1979 for the Woolworth company's 100 year anniversary.

Epicure, a line based on popular colors and shapes of the 1950s was introduced in 1955, and was designed by a student of Russel Wright. Wright's own dinnerware lines were made by Homer Laughlin rival, Steubenville Pottery in nearby Steubenville, Ohio. Epicure today is a sought after collectible, but it was not well received when introduced and was dropped only 1 year after its debut.

Golden Wheat Line, Homer-Laughlin Company produced the Golden Wheat line between 1949 and 1966. These pieces were added to Duz Detergent boxes as an enticement to buyers. These dishes feature a center picture of wheat bending in the wind, with a trim on the edge in 22k gold.[8]


Partnership Lines

Modern Star, a short dinnerware china set made by the Homer Laughlin China Company in association with the Taylor, Smith and Taylor Pottery Company and Quaker Oats Company. Modern Star is not a shape but a short dinnerware set with an “atomic style” starburst pattern prominent on each piece of the dinnerware. The dinnerware line was produced for the Quaker Oats Company as a way for the company to drive sales of its flagship breakfast product. Back then, companies like Quaker Oats would offer dinnerware and household items by marketing to their customers the ability to collect box tops from their products, which consumers could then send in to Quaker Oats with a reduced price per piece or set of the desired pieces of dinnerware the customer wanted to purchase. Customers could purchase small sets or a complete set of dinnerware for up to 6 people. Modern Star was one of the last dinnerware lines the Homer Laughlin China Company manufactured in partnership with Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery Company. The Modern Star Line was discontinued in 1958 and is highly collectible. [9]


Government Lines

HLC maintains contracts with the federal government to supply china and dinnerware for a range of functions. This includes formal dinners to dinnerware for use by US troops at base camps and in the field. A number of these designs are exclusive to the US government[10].

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Press Reference Library: Notables of the Southwest, The Los Angeles Examiner, 1912, p. 45.
  2. ^ Strum, Dave. "Brief History of the Homer Laughlin Company". Robbins Nest. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  3. ^ "The Homer Laughlin China Company history". fiestafactorydirect.com.
  4. ^ "Homer Laughlin China Company, 1877 - Present". Carnegie Public Library, East Liverpool, Ohio. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  5. ^ "Homer Laughlin, Hall China To Merge". Manufacturing.net.
  6. ^ "The Homer Laughlin Company, Manufacturers of the Iconic Brand Fiesta® Dinnerware". 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  7. ^ Linda Wertheimer (Director) (2014-10-16). "W.Va. Pottery Company Keeps Popular Fiesta Line Alive And Thriving". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2014-10-16. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  8. ^ "The Homer Laughlin Golden Wheat line". robbinsnest.com.
  9. ^ [ https://www.robbinsnest.com/china/homer-laughlin-china/rhythm/modern-star.html]; accessed October 23, 2018.
  10. ^ [ https://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/home.dohttp://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/contractorInfo.do;jsessionid=F551E674F6E2302852EF1CC6285C004C.prd2pweb?contractNumber=GS-07F-0534U&contractorName=HOMER+LAUGHLIN+CHINA+COMPANY%2C+THE&executeQuery=YES]; accessed October 23, 2018.
  • Collectors Encyclopedia of Fiesta, 7th edition, Huxford. Collector Books, division of Schroeder Publishing, Inc.
  • Collectors Encyclopedia of Russel Wright, 2nd edition, Kerr.

Further readingEdit

  • Berkow, Nancy Pratt. Fiesta Ware. Des Moines: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1978.
  • Cunningham, Jo. Homer Laughlin China 1940's & 1950's. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2000.
  • Cunningham, Jo. Homer Laughlin China: A Giant among Dishes, 1873-1939. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 1998.
  • Homer Laughlin China Collectors Association. Fiesta, Harlequin, & Kitchen Kraft Tablewares: The Homer Laughlin China Collectors Association Guide. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 2000.
  • Huxford, Sharon & Bob Huxford. The Collectors Encyclopedia of Fiesta, With Harlequin And Riviera. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1992.
  • Jasper, Joanne. The Collector's Encyclopedia of Homer Laughlin China: Reference & Value Guide. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1993.
  • Page, Bob, Dale Frederiksen, and Dean Six. Homer Laughlin: Decades of Dinnerware. Greensboro, NC: Page/Frederiksen Publications, 2003.
  • Racheter, Richard G. Collector's Guide to Homer Laughlin's Virginia Rose: Identification & Values. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1997.
  • Racheter, Richard G. "Virginia Rose." Antiques & Collecting Magazine 100 (Aug. 1995) 18-20.
  • Schneider, Mike. "Fiesta: A Rainbow at the Table." Antiques & Collecting Hobbies 93 (Aug. 1988): 24-8.
  • Snyder, Jeffrey B. Fiesta: The Homer Laughlin China Company's Colorful Dinnerware. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 2000.

External linksEdit