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Pattern of the Month - February

Ivy by Franciscan

Ivy was added as part of the California-based Gladding, McBean, & Co.’s Franciscan dinnerware line in 1948. It was one of a number of hand-painted earthenware patterns from Franciscan made with a special patented formula that included a mineral called Malinite. This formula was used “to make possible a wider range of colors, a softer finish, and to afford the same strength as found in vitrified china,” and gave Franciscan pottery a functional competitive edge over other dinnerware. It could be used oven-to-table and was also dishwasher safe. This was unusual at the time because most dinnerware was prone to crazing (spider web like crackling of the glaze) with "every day" usage and care. In addition, Ivy’s simple and charming hand painted, embossed design helped it work well in many settings. In later years, production of Franciscan dinnerware was moved to England where Ivy is now produced.

The American version of Ivy (1948 - 1983) tends to be more popular for the collector with the pattern having appeared on television programs such as the “I Love Lucy Show” and “The Donna Reed Show”. The Franciscan dinnerware line can trace its roots back to tough economic times in Chicago, Illinois. Charles Gladding used his trade knowledge of durable, sanitary piping to create a business located in California. By being tenacious and having a clear vision for his product, he managed to convince a group of friends to back him financially, and Gladding, McBean and Co. was formed in 1875. The company, in its earliest years, produced a wide range of product ranging from roof and flooring tiles to pipes. It was not until 1933 that dinnerware was first produced by his company.

Drawing on a strong Spanish influence, and a stronger clay slip containing the mineral Malinite, Gladding, McBean and Co. introduced Franciscan dinnerware, and the beautifully artful pottery was an immediate hit. A trademark was developed from a vision of the simple lifestyle of the California "Spanish Padres", or Franciscan Brothers. The company managed to create a fanciful image for their customers of a fun, post-depression 'American lifestyle'. Even more success came to Franciscan in 1940 when it created the highly popular hand-painted and embossed edged pattern Apple, followed by Desert Rose and Ivy. Franciscan would remain a household name throughout the 1970's. The early 1980's brought change to Franciscan, with the Wedgwood group purchasing the company and moving production to England, where it remains today.

Source: Page, B.; Frederiksen, D.; Six, D.; Robinson, J.; Franciscan: An American Dinnerware Tradition; Greensboro, NC; Page/Frederiksen Publications; 1999.

Looking for an interesting and beautiful reference book for Franciscan China? Be sure to order a copy of Franciscan - An American Dinnerware Tradition. Click here for details.

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