October 21, 2014

Artistic Autumnal Patterns, Splendid Design

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The October pattern by Franciscan was produced from 1977 to 1984. This hand-painted pattern features arrangements of fall leaves in subdued earth tones, making October an autumnal version of Franciscan's other bold, brightly colored hand-painted designs. The October pattern comprises nearly thirty different piece types, including salt & pepper shakers, a teapot, and even a thimble! When California-based Franciscan tableware premiered in 1934, it was practically an overnight success. The glamour of the emerging film industry and the state's climate seemed exotic to Midwesterners and those living on the East Coast. The "Golden State" became a very popular tourist destination. And Franciscan's bright-colored, less expensive "earthenware" grew in popularity as American consumers began to recover from the Great Depression. The company's now-legendary line of hand-painted, raised-pattern designs includes Desert Rose, Apple, Fresh Fruit, and Ivy.

Fostoria Jamestown-Amber is amber, pressed glass with a concave, squarish bowl that features swirling, spiral panels on the side. The twist stem echoes the shapes of the panels on the bowl, and the foot is round. Even with its square shape, the curves in this pattern are organic and graceful. Founded in Fostoria, OH, in 1887, the Fostoria company relocated to Moundsville, WV, shortly thereafter, because of that region's abundant natural resources. Jamestown-Amber was one of four colors in the Jamestown pattern to be released in 1958 - green, amber, blue, and clear - additions to a line of popular colored-glass stemware introduced by Fostoria in the 1920s. After meeting decades of stiff foreign competition with classic designs and innovative glass-making methods, Fostoria operations were shut down by its parent company, Lancaster Colony, in 1983. Fostoria glass is highly sought-after by collectors today.

Oneida Will O' Wisp is a stylish stainless pattern that features a chic, understated design and a glossy finish. Oneida, Ltd. grew out of the original Oneida Community founded in upstate New York by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848. This Christian communal society was based upon the principles of individual self-perfection and shared property. Many products were manufactured by the Oneida Community, including animal traps, silk, chains, and, eventually, some of the world's most recognizable, high-quality, and beautifully designed flatware. During World War I and World War II, Oneida began producing many products for the U.S. military, including ammunition clips, combat knives, surgical instruments, and silverware for the Army and Navy. When stainless steel was introduced to the market in the early twentieth century, it failed to make an immediate impression on the flatware industry. Oneida, however, decided to shift its focus from sterling to stainless flatware production. Strong research and development greatly improved the quality of stainless steel as a dinnerware material, facilitating Oneida's success in the stainless flatware market. Today, Oneida, Ltd. is one of the world's largest marketers of stainless steel flatware, positioned to continue being a leader in the tableware industry for generations to come.

September 30, 2014

Impeccable Artistry, Eye-Catching Designs

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Hutschenreuther Blue Onion is rimmed, scallop-shaped white china featuring an intricate floral design rendered in a stunning blue color. The "Blue Onion" (or "Zwiebelmuster") pattern first appeared on tableware in Meissen, Germany around 1735. This popular motif likely derives from a similar Chinese pattern (the "onions" in the design are believed to be permutations of the pomegranates, peaches, and plums featured in the original design). The first privately owned porcelain factory in Bavaria, Hutschenreuther was founded in 1814 by Carolus Magnus Hutschenreuther. To enhance the quality of his product, Carolus solicited artists, craftsmen, and sculptors from across the European continent. Primarily focusing on quality and design, Hutschenreuther grew into a competitive firm that produced dinnerware services ideal for fine dining. In addition to Blue Onion, Hutschenreuther produced many other famous patterns throughout the first half of the twenty-first century, including Racine, Richelieu, and Maple Leaf.

With vertical, thumbprint, and crisscross cuts that show clear against the brilliant cobalt blue of the bowl, a multi-sided stem, and round foot with starburst cuts, Clarendon-Cobalt crystal by Waterford is an exquisite pattern. With its elaborate, eye-catching design, Clarendon-Cobalt is an especially fine accompaniment to Blue Onion china and American Victorian flatware. Waterford Crystal dates back to the Flint Glass Works, founded in 1783 on the quay in the port town of Waterford when George and William Penrose opened the Flint Glass Works. In 1788, Waterford produced a glassware service as a gift to her Majesty, Charlotte Sophia, wife to King George III. The King and Queen were so charmed by the crystal service that they ordered the set to be displayed at Cheltenham castle. Today "Waterford" is synonymous with fine crystal, and is found in households around the world.

Introduced in 1941, Lunt Silver American Victorian is scallop-shaped sterling with magnificent scroll and floral designs. Lunt was founded as the A. F. Towle & Son Mfg. Co. in 1880 in Newburyport, MA. Towle and his son left the company and built a new factory in Newburyport under the name A.F. Towle & Son Company. After moving to Greenfield, MA, in 1890, the firm went into automobile manufacturing and produced one of the first "horseless carriages" in America. Lack of financing caused the endeavor to fail, and George C. Lunt, who had been apprenticed to Towle, established Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen Company in 1902. Since 1935, the company has used the trade name Lunt Silversmiths. The company's Embassy Scroll pattern has been selected by the U.S. government as the official tableware for all U.S. consulates and embassies.

September 18, 2014

Outstanding American Artistry

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Cloisonne Peony-Black by Fitz & Floyd features gold trim, a white center, and a black rim adorned with a colorful peony design motif that spills over the verge. The graceful elegance of Cloisonne Peony-Black is a wonderful complement to the charming Empire-Gold Trim crystal and Cameo sterling patterns featured this week. Since 1960, Fitz & Floyd has earned a reputation for producing high-quality china and collectibles. Their distinctive products have graced the tables of some of the world's greatest homes. In 1983, Nancy Reagan requested that Fitz & Floyd provide a dinner service for the West Wing of the White House. In 1991, Fitz & Floyd was commissioned to create a tea service commemorating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Texas. Over the years, Fitz & Floyd's unique designs have become highly sought after.

Mikasa Crystal Empire-Gold Trim is a beautiful blown glass design featuring a concave bowl that curves in at the top, resting atop a multi-sided, knobbed stem and a round foot. In the early 1930s, Mikasa was established as an international trading company based in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company, while wholly American, looked to Japan for inspiration. Named in honor of Prince Mikasa, the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito, Mikasa soon established itself as one of the most recognized Japanese brand names in the West. Importing merchandise produced by a network of over 150 manufacturers worldwide, the company itself never attempted to make any of the dinnerware it sold. Rather, the Mikasa branded items were imported from Japan, Ireland, England, France, and Germany. Business exploded in the 1950s, and tableware became the staple business for Mikasa. Customer requests were pouring in from all parts of the country, and department stores including Bloomingdale's and Macy's could not keep enough stock to meet demand. Consumers found Mikasa ceramics to be very strong, versatile, and stylish. By the beginning of the 1960s, Mikasa had established a reputation as "the pioneer of American casual." Today, Mikasa continues to leverage the momentum it has built over the decades since its inception.

Reed & Barton's Cameo is a gorgeous sterling pattern that features a scroll edge, a framed cameo tip, floral design accents, and a glossy finish. The Cameo sterling pattern was produced by Reed & Barton for close to 50 years, from 1959 to 2009. This elegant patternis emblematic of its maker, Reed & Barton of Taunton, MA, a company that traces its origins to a jewelry store founded by Isaac Babbitt in 1822. After changes in ownership, the company began to use the "Reed & Barton" stamp on its silver in the 1840s. One of the company's best-known patterns is Francis I. Introduced by Reed & Barton in 1907, Francis I quickly became a favorite of nobility and presidents (no less than four U.S. presidents dined with Francis I - Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford). Now well into its second century of operation, Reed & Barton is a leader in finely crafted sterling silver and stainless steel.

September 04, 2014

Masterful French and Italian Designs

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The vibrant Koutani pattern by Ceralene features a rim and verge adorned with bands of colorful floral designs in blue, green, red, and gold hues. The asymmetrical center design is composed of graceful sprays of exotic flowers. Produced by Raynaud, Ceralene is "continental" china, the hardest of the three main kinds of china produced today. Fired at nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, Ceralene's thin body is perfectly white and translucent with a fine clear ring when tapped. Raynaud, a manufacturer known and recognized since 1894 as a leader in applied art in tableware design, was established in Limoges, France, a city world renowned for its artistry in fine porcelain. According to Ceralene company literature, Ceralene china "... is different from any other Limoges marketed today in both quality and styling. Many patterns are exact reproductions or adaptations of museum pieces of the 18th century. They constitute a truly distinctive china in the best French table tradition." Our featured Koutani pattern is a wonderful example of Ceralene's dedication to artistry and quality in applied ceramic arts.

St Louis Excellence is blown glass with a concave bowl and a flared top, a knobbed, multisided stem with a V notch shape, and round foot with a cut design. The water goblet in the Excellence pattern measures 10 1/4-inches tall, and its towering stature combines with an intricate crosshatched geometric design, multi-faceted polished cuts, and gold trim to make Excellence an extraordinarily lavish crystal pattern! Its maker, St Louis, is acclaimed as the oldest "cristallerie" in France - the firm was founded in 1586 in the Lorrain region, renowned world-wide for the magnificent quality of its crystal. In Lorrain is the town of Baccarat, home to a crystal museum and one of the most famous crystal makers in the world. This rich tradition comes to dazzling life in the beauty of St Louis Excellence crystal.
 
Buccellati Silver Empire is a gorgeous sterling pattern that features a beveled, outlined design, scallop shape at the end of the handle, geometric and floral design elements, and a glossy finish. While Empire is very stylish, its understated design is an ideal complement to the more elaborate Koutani and Excellence patterns. Empire is emblematic of its maker, Buccellati Silver. Buccellati is a name known in the silver world since the 1750s, when Contardo Buccellati gained renown as a goldsmith in Milan, Italy. In 1903, one of Contardo's descendents, Mario Buccellati, continued the family tradition when he began working as an apprentice at Beltrami & Beltrami, a jewelry firm located near the La Scala opera house in Milan. By 1919, Mario had taken over the company, and focused on the art of engraving. He gained acclaim with his Renaissance-inspired designs and detailed engraving and piercing methods that made his pieces resemble fine fabrics like linen, tulle, and lace. Mario's exquisite artistry prompted Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio to refer to him as the "prince of goldsmiths." Over the years, Buccellati has crafted jewelry for the royal families of Italy, Spain, and Egypt. Today, the Buccellati firm continues its tradition of excellence under the leadership of the Buccellati family.

August 21, 2014

Delicate Floral Designs, Superb Artistry

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Finlandia by Churchill features an embossed scallop design, a gorgeous blue and white color palette, and a Scandinavian-influenced floral motif. The stylish design and beautiful color of Finlandia make this the perfect complement to the dazzling Images-Medium Blue glassware and elegant Gigi flatware also featured here. Churchill was founded in 1795 at Stoke-on-Trent in the legendary china-producing region of Staffordshire, England. More than 200 years later, Churchill continues to be a leading manufacturer of high-quality tableware. According to Churchill company literature, its products are used in hospitality establishments in over 70 countries worldwide! In addition to Finlandia, Replacements, Ltd. carries a large number of Churchill patterns, including Willow, Briar Rose, Arctic, Pink Peony, and many others.

The stunning Images-Medium Blue glassware pattern by Gorham Crystal features a bold shape, with a smooth pulled stem, round foot, and eye-catching blue color. Gorham, originally known for its high-quality sterling silver, was founded in 1831 on Steeple Street in Providence, RI. Over the 180 years the company has been in business, it has produced a multitude of silver patterns, most notably, Chantilly, a household name, and the best-selling flatware pattern ever produced. In recent years, Gorham has moved into other tableware areas, including the production of exquisite crystal, like Images-Medium Blue, and high-quality china.

International Silver Gigi is an enchanting stainless steel flatware pattern with a glossy finish and graceful floral design that adorns both the edges and tip. International Silver started as a combination of America's greatest silver manufacturers. During the American Colonial period, New England was home to many artisans producing high-quality pewter, sterling, and silverplate, primarily in Connecticut. Around 1808, Ashbile Griswold opened a pewter shop in Meriden, Connecticut. Through mergers with regional companies, Griswold's original shop grew to comprise fourteen silver manufacturers, including Holmes and Edwards (Bridgeport), Meriden Britannia (Meriden), and Rogers Brothers (Hartford). In 1898, the International Silver Company became truly "international," establishing offices in England and Canada. Throughout the years, International Silver products have remained immensely popular.

August 12, 2014

Beautiful Blossoms, Delightful Designs

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Mikasa Plum Blossom is fine blue-and-white china with a multi-sided shape and flowing, geometric border designs. Artfully rendered in the center of the plate is a graceful, blossoming plum tree. With its Asian-influnced design, the Plum Blossom pattern beautifully represents the craftsmanship and production excellence associated with the Mikasa company. In the early 1930s, Mikasa was established as an international trading company based in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company, while wholly American, looked to Japan for inspiration. Named in honor of Prince Mikasa, the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito, Mikasa soon established itself as one of the most recognized Japanese brand names in the West. Importing merchandise produced by a network of over 150 manufacturers worldwide, the company itself never attempted to make any of the dinnerware it sold. Rather, the Mikasa branded items were imported from Japan, Ireland, England, France, and Germany. Business exploded in the 1950s, and tableware became the staple business for Mikasa. Customer requests were pouring in from all parts of the country, and department stores including Bloomingdale's and Macy's could not keep enough stock to meet demand. Consumers found Mikasa ceramics to be very strong, versatile, and stylish. By the beginning of the 1960s, Mikasa had established a reputation as "the pioneer of American casual." Today, Mikasa continues to leverage the momentum it has built over the decades since its inception.

With a concave bowl and platinum trim, Lenox Crystal Plum Blossoms features a continuous, delicate floral design, a multisided stem, and a round foot. The beautiful design of this crystal serves as the ideal complement to the organic and geometric shapes of Mikasa's Plum Blossom and the elegant refinement of Towle's Lady Mary sterling. Founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" in its time, the Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company produced art-quality pieces. By 1897 examples of Lenox's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. In 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a president's table. Lenox introduced its line of hand-blown crystal in 1966. 
 
Produced by Towle from 1917 to 1996, the streamlined and understated Lady Mary sterling pattern features a multi-sided tip, an outlined/beveled edge, geometric elements, and a glossy finish. Towle is founded on the craftsmanship and artistry of the Moulton family of England, who over six generations of silver making, raised their artisanship to a high art. A young man named Anthony Towle would join William Moulton IV as an apprentice. When Moulton retired, Towle and a partner, William Jones, bought the Moulton family stock and formed Towle & Jones in 1857. With such a long history and distinguished tradition, Towle's patterns resonate with skill and pride in craft.

July 29, 2014

Eye-Catching Floral Designs

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Buttercup by Spode is a gorgeous earthenware pattern produced from 1924 to 1992. Buttercup has a rimmed, scalloped design adorned with beautiful floral sprays and a warm color palette. Spode founder Josiah Spode opened the doors of his porcelain factory in 1780. Under his guidance, the factory introduced two important breakthroughs in the development of English ceramics. Using bone ash, Spode was the first English china maker to achieve higher firing temperatures, resulting in beautifully detailed, longer-lasting china. The company's second important achievement was perfecting "underglaze" decorating. Intricate designs could be applied to china that would last for decades and were much more resistant to chipping, scratching, or fading, at prices affordable to England's burgeoning middle class.

Lenox Crystal Fontaine (Gold Trim) features a multisided stem, gold trim, and an exquisite etched floral bowl design. The elegant floral design of Fontaine (Gold Trim) serves as the perfect complement to the delicate Buttercup china and chic Queen's Lace flatware. Since the 1950s, Lenox has been the tableware of choice for a significant percentage of homes in this country. Responding to consumer demand, Lenox introduced a line of hand-blown crystal to complement its china in 1966. In 1991, again responding to consumers, Lenox began to produce silver flatware, making it the first company in America to offer the complete tabletop.

Produced from 1949 to 2003, International Silver Queen's Lace is an enchanting sterling flatware pattern that incorporates floral, scalloped, and beaded design elements on a pierced handle. International Silver started as a combination of America's greatest silver manufacturers. During the American Colonial period, New England was home to many artisans producing high-quality pewter, sterling, and silverplate, primarily in Connecticut. Around 1808, Ashbil Griswold opened a pewter shop in Meriden, Connecticut. Through mergers with regional companies, Griswold's original shop grew to comprise fourteen silver manufacturers, including Holmes and Edwards (Bridgeport), Meriden Britannia (Meriden), and Rogers Brothers (Hartford). In 1898, the International Silver Company became truly "international," establishing offices in England and Canada. Throughout the years, International Silver products have remained immensely popular.

July 15, 2014

Gorgeous Floral Designs For Summer

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Portmeirion Botanic Garden is rimmed, round china with a multi-motif floral design and brightly colored butterflies, bees, or dragonflies at the center. At the bottom of the design is the Latin botanical name and English common name of each featured floral design. A verdant, geometrical leaf design is painted on the rim. The pattern offers a spectacular array of choices, not only in the floral designs, but also in the shapes and sizes of the china! Depicted here is Clematis Florida, "Virgin's Bower." Portmeirion artist Susan Ellis-Williams came up with the multi-motif idea for Botanic Garden in 1972, when she was looking through rare books at an antiquarian shop. A volume of old, beautifully colored, meticulously drawn illustrations called out to her. The launch of Botanic Garden included 28 different flower types and was an immediate success!

A knobbed, multi-sided stem, concave bowl that flares at the top, and gold trim enhances the criss-cross, fan, and floral cuts of Royal Doulton Wellesley Gold crystal. The pattern beautifully represents the production excellence for which Royal Doulton has become world renowned. Founded as Doulton and Watts in Lambeth, England, in 1815, the company produced both household and industrial ceramics. John Doulton's sons, who had joined their father in the business, eventually formed companies of their own. But turmoil in the British financial markets forced the businesses to dissolve. In 1853, they reformed as Doulton and Co. (In 1901, King Edward VII conferred a Royal Warrant upon Doulton and Co. to honor the company's production of ceramic vessels that successfully filtered pollutants from the water of the Thames River, London's primary source for drinking water.)

First produced in 1951, International Silver Old Charleston is an alluring sterling flatware pattern with an elegant floral motif, a scalloped tip, and a glossy finish. International Silver started as a combination of America's greatest silver manufacturers. During the American Colonial period, New England was home to many artisans producing high-quality pewter, sterling, and silverplate, primarily in Connecticut. Around 1808, Ashbile Griswold opened a pewter shop in Meriden, Connecticut. Through mergers with regional companies, Griswold's original shop grew to comprise fourteen silver manufacturers, including Holmes and Edwards (Bridgeport), Meriden Britannia (Meriden), and Rogers Brothers (Hartford). In 1898, the International Silver Company became truly "international," establishing offices in England and Canada. Throughout the years, International Silver products have remained immensely popular.

July 03, 2014

Striking Summer Patterns

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Named for the Roman goddess of fruit, the Pomona pattern by Portmeirion features a wonderful palette of colors with life-like depictions of fruits in its designs. The artistic depictions of different fruits are based on illustrations from "Pomona Britannica," a book originally published in 1812 that featured detailed illustrations of a variety of fruits. The "Hoary Morning Apple" plate featured here features a gorgeous red apple and delicate apple blossoms, all surrounded by carefully detailed leaves. First introduced in 1982, the Pomona pattern was designed by the co-founder of Portmeirion, Susan Williams-Ellis, who also designed Portmeirion's most popular pattern, Botanic Garden. Susan's art studies enabled her to design both shapes and surface patterns for Portmeirion (a combination of skills that was rare at the time), and her designs have become very popular.

Royal Pierpont-Pink is splendid crystal made by one of the best-known manufacturers in the world, Noritake. This graceful blown glass pattern features a gorgeous pink color, with a concave bowl that flares at the top, a swirl optic design, a pulled stem, and a round foot. Noritake produces many crystal patterns designed to complement its dinnerware. The company's crystal and glassware collection includes handmade, mouth-blown, and machine-made stems. Noritake's manufacturing supplies were cut off during World War II, but the company's products again became available in 1948. Many of these post-war wares were created specifically with the American consumer in mind. For Noritake collectors, there are many historical ambiguities surrounding the company; destruction of company records during the war years means that some questions will never be answered.

Spring Vista by Lenox Flatware is an 18/8 stainless steel pattern featuring a glossy finish, a sprightly floral motif, and a whimsical, asymmetrical design that perfectly complements the Pomona china and Royal Pierpont-Pink crystal patterns. Lenox China is a great American success story. It was founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox as "The Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company." Born in 1859, Lenox was named for the nineteenth-century Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott. Lenox grew up in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" of its time. With excellent transportation and good sources of fuel and clay, the state capital of New Jersey became the nation's leading center for ceramics production. Lenox first organized his company as an art studio, producing one-of-a-kind pieces for a select market. By 1897, examples of the company's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and by 1906 the company was producing complete sets of dinnerware. In 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a U.S. president's table. Lenox added hand-blown lead crystal to its product lines in 1966, and, with the addition of Lenox silver flatware in 1991, Lenox became the first American company to offer the complete tabletop. By the end of the twentieth century, about half the china on dinner tables in the United States was made by Lenox.

June 17, 2014

Franciscan Wildflower Teapot

This rare teapot from the lovely Wildflower pattern by Franciscan features a hand-painted underglaze floral design rendered in a gorgeous color palette. A 1942 Franciscan advertisement describes the pattern as "A hand-painted embossed design embodying the colorful wildflowers that make the slopes and valleys of California one of the world's most spectacular sights each spring...the dramatic yellow gold of the Poppy and the brilliant blue of the Lupin join gaily with the more subtle colors of the Shooting Star and the Mariposa Lily."

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Wildflower stood as a warm, distinctly American contrast to the petite floral designs and gilded accents of traditional European bone china. Although Wildflower was only produced for a short amount of time (from 1942 to 1945), there were around 30 different piece types created in the pattern, including vegetable bowls, cup and saucer sets, jam jars, water pitchers, and more. Wildflower also included matching glassware from Imperial Glass that was hand painted to coordinate with the pattern.

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Gladding, McBean & Co. began production of Franciscan dinnerware in 1934 at their plant in Glendale, California. According to Bob Page and Dale Frederiksen in their book, "Franciscan: An American Dinnerware Tradition," Gladding, McBean & Co. formed in 1875 to produce tile for waterworks and sanitation systems for the then-expanding American West. Over the years they acquired several regional potteries and expanded their product lines several times to include roof tile, decorative art tiles, garden pottery, and art pottery.

Originally, the dinnerware line was sold as Franciscan Pottery and included solidly colored, bright earthenware in the casual style of Mexican folk pottery. This informal tableware was a warm friendly note in the midst of the Great Depression, and the company selection of the Franciscan name, an allusion to Franciscan monks, further played into the Southwest imagery. With names like El Patio, Coronado, and Montecito, 1930's Franciscan patterns embodied the California casual style and sold well.

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The name was altered to Franciscan Ware in the late 1930s to allow for a more upscale and broader image. Shortly thereafter, the company introduced raised relief, hand-painted patterns like Apple and Desert Rose that proved hugely successful. Other hand-painted patterns such as Ivy, October, and Fresh Fruit became quite popular during this time as well. Ivy was even featured on the sets of "I Love Lucy" and the "Donna Reed Show." At the pinnacle of its fame, Franciscan pieces were purchased by some of America's most famous families. Noteworthy are the 1961 order by Jacqueline Kennedy for Desert Rose to be used on Air Force One, and the 1969 selection of Franciscan china by president Richard Nixon for service aboard the presidential yacht. Other orders for special services for royalty from around the world were also filled.