Collecting Antique Blue Ridge Pottery Dishes made in Appalachia

One of Many Blue Ridge Dish Patterns - This One is Called "June Bouquet"
One of Many Blue Ridge Dish Patterns - This One is Called "June Bouquet"

Antique Blue Ridge Pottery Dishes are a Very Desirable Collectible

Nostalgia and charm are two reasons collectors scour flea markets and yard sales for pieces of folk art known as Blue Ridge pottery. The plates and dishes made from the 1930s to 1950s by Blue Ridge Southern Potteries in southern Appalachia, feature bright colors and whimsical designs. Manufactured during the dreary days of the Great Depression and World War II, they quickly became popular with homemakers as a way to bring a little cheerfulness into their homes. They are a very desirable collectible today.

Blue Ridge Pottery Sunflower Pattern
Blue Ridge Pottery Sunflower Pattern | Source
Blue Ridge Pottery Pattern Fruit Punch
Blue Ridge Pottery Pattern Fruit Punch | Source
A Favorite Blue Ridge Pattern called "Mirror Image"
A Favorite Blue Ridge Pattern called "Mirror Image"

History of Blue Ridge Pottery Dishes

Blue Ridge Southern Pottery began making their popular Blue Ridge pottery dishes in 1938 in Erwin, Tennessee, an economically depressed area of Appalachia. Most dishes during that time period were made with dull, lifeless decals for decoration. Southern Potteries used a method of hand painting the dishes with very vibrant colors before the final glaze was fired which made the designs come alive. They recruited women from "up in the hills" that had no artistic training to learn the basic folk painting strokes used in creating these works of art. Using broken pieces of china for practicing the strokes, they soon acquired the speed and skill needed to produce the pieces. The technique gave the dishes a happy and less formal appearance that was very endearing to customers.

Working in a group of 4 to 6 women, one person would paint stems, another would add the leaves, while others were adding petals and other details. The patterns and jobs were changed frequently to prevent the work from becoming too monotonous.

Sales of the Blue Ridge Pottery dishes flourished during the 1940's especially during the years of WWII when imports were restricted. Much needed jobs were created by the plant as they employed as many as 500 painters who were making an average pay rate of 13 1/2 cents an hour. They were turning out an amazing 324,000 pieces each week.

At that time, Blue Ridge Southern Pottery was the largest hand painted china producer in the United States with 11 showrooms throughout the country including one on New York's Fifth Avenue. The dishes became a popular premium item that was offered by companies such as Quaker Oats and Avon. Stanley Home Products had their own Blue Ridge Pottery pattern called "Stanhome" which they offered as an incentive to purchasers of their home products. Major catalog publishers like Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward carried Blue Ridge Pottery in their mail order selections. Grocery store chains offered them as a reward program gift to their faithful customers.

After the war, trade with Japan was reopened and imports came flooding in to the US. Most American potteries could not compete with the lower priced imports and the increased labor costs associated with production. Another astonishing factor which led to decreased demand was the introduction during the 1950's of "unbreakable" plastic dishes! Sadly, Blue Ridge Southern Pottery closed its doors in 1957 and discontinued the beautiful dishes. Fortunately, they were able to pay their debts and stockholders and did not have to file bankruptcy.

Brochure for 2016 Blue Ridge Pottery Show and Sale
Brochure for 2016 Blue Ridge Pottery Show and Sale

Collectors Club Sponsors Annual Event

The Erwin National Blue Ridge Pottery Club is headquartered in Erwin, Tennessee. They sponsor an annual show each October for collectors to buy, sell or get appraisals for their Blue Ridge pieces.

The Blue Ridge Collectors Club hosts a show and sale the same weekend, also in Erwin. There are opportunities for you to win door prizes and purchase Blue Ridge at bargain prices. There are many beautiful displays as shown here which feature a variety of patterns.

2016 Blue Ridge Pottery Shows

The Blue Ridge Pottery shows for 2016 in Erwin, Tennessee are scheduled for October 6, 7, and 8.

Display at Blue Ridge Collectors Club Show and Sale

Books like this will help identify confusing patterns

Appealing but Sometimes Confusing to Antique Dish Collectors

Collecting these beautiful and colorful antique dishes is appealing to collectors, however, sometimes the hunt can be confusing. It is believed that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 different dish patterns, but most of the design records have been lost or destroyed over the years. Add to that the fact that Southern Potteries didn't name the patterns because they operated basically on a numbering system. Most of the patterns were named by the collectors. Therefore, you might have a description in a reference guide which refers to a dish pattern by one name and then find the same design in another source listed with a different name.

Surprisingly, the fact that the antique dishes were painted by hand added to the confusion. Painters sometimes added a flower, eliminated a piece of fruit, painted on extra leaves or made other alterations either by accident or intentionally. No two pieces were ever 100% alike. Collectors admit this sometimes prevents them from identifying a particular pattern but it is all part of the charm of the Blue Ridge pottery line of dishes.

My favorite pattern is known as "Mirror Image" and is shown above. When I set the table with my collection, I can't help but wonder about the hands that painted the beautiful red flowers. These ladies from the hills of Appalachia spent their days visiting with each other while they busily painted dishes that would become a part of history. If I listen closely I can hear the clatter of the dishes and the laughter of the folk artists.


My Newest Collection

I am starting a new collection of this beautiful cherry pattern.  The border design makes it very unusual.
I am starting a new collection of this beautiful cherry pattern. The border design makes it very unusual. | Source

How do you rate the products of Blue Ridge Pottery?

4.8 out of 5 stars from 17 ratings of Blue Ridge Pottery

Are you a Blue Ridge Pottery Collector?

See results without voting

Which is Your Favorite Blue Ridge Pottery Pattern?

If you are a collector of these beautiful dishes, please share with us in the comment section below which is your favorite pattern?

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

More by this Author


Please Leave Your Comments About Blue Ridge Pottery 38 comments

Sandy Hale 2 months ago

I love Blue Ridge Pottery. It is hard to say which pattern is my favorite. I collect Red Nocturne and anything with apples on it. Thank you for all of the information you shared about these dishes.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 12 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Delores I always thought there was a sweetness in them also, especially after I learned the story about the ladies painting them in their homes. Loved your article too on collecting vintage glassware.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 12 months ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Thelma - these pieces are so pretty! I love the simple designs. I have a small Blue Ridge platter. I remember relatives who had more and always thought there was a sweetness in those dishes.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 15 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Rene it sounds like you made a great find! You lucky girl!! I am emailing you about a person that knows so much about Blue Ridge pottery. Both of his parents worked in the factory years ago. I think he would be a great source of information for you. Let us all know on here what you find out.


Renee 15 months ago

Hi Thelma...first of all two things made me want to comment.. I'm researching my family history and they are from Missouri. I have a history written by my great uncle that I have been reading this week and it is so interesting to read about how they lived and so forth. Did you finish your book? ....Now for the matter at hand...I bought a Blue Ridge - Talisman Wallpaper Advertisement 'palette' Plate this morning at Goodwill ($2) and have found out it's very valuable... where can I get more information about the actual value of this plate? ...My husband found the book list price $500.00... Is this the going rate for Blue Ridge these days? It took me a long time to find a person I could ask about this...lol Thanks Renee


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 16 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Stacy I'm glad you saved her strawberry set. It is a beautiful pattern. Red Nocturne is one of my favorites. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Stacy 16 months ago

This was wonderfully interesting to read. My mom was an avid collector of dishes, blue ridge in particular. While we sold most of them, I took her Wild Strawberry set (plus the one Berryville serving bowl she grouped with it) . She also had full sets of Red Nocturne and (I think) Ridge Daisy along with all the other random pieces. I didn't realize quite how many of the strawberry she had until I unpacked them all last night after getting them from storage.


Linda Quaas Blaylock 16 months ago

Bravo Thelma. This is a wonderful page.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 16 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Sharon I am so happy to read your nice comments. I always wonder about the ladies that painted Blue Ridge and wish that I could have met some of them. Thanks for sharing your story with us.


Sharon Fritcher 16 months ago

I am proud to say I was born in Erwin, Tennessee, as was my mother. I now live in Oscoda, Michigan. I have a personal reason for collecting Blue Ridge Pottery. My mom, and one of her sisters, worked there. They were both painters. Every time I hold one of the pieces I wonder if my mom painted that leaf or the beautiful flower. I love the thrift stores because everyone I go into I feel excited that I might find another piece. My mom is gone now so it's wonderful to have this conection to her.


Gran 21 months ago

After finding an adorable little cream picture in a local antique shop and identifying it as Blue Ridge Stanhome Ivy, I Am hooked! . I can't wait to add to my piece and start a collection. Your website has been very informative!


Linda 21 months ago

I have collected Blue Ridge for many years. I became obsessed with putting together complete sets of the different patterns. If you would like to see a few sets that I have put together please go to blueridgepottery.net


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Peg I'm just like you as far as can't get enough of American dinnerware. I only live about 3 hours from Erwin, Tennessee and hopefully will make it to the Blue Ridge Pottery show this October. If I do, I will add pictures of it to this hub. Thanks for your comments and I enjoy following you!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I love Blue Ridge Potteries and am fortunate to have a gorgeous pitcher and a couple of saucers with the red flower. Had a few others but sold them a few years back on eBay. I'm a collector of American dinnerware and can't seem to get enough. Nice history and explanation of the manufacturer.


Joanne M Olivieri 3 years ago

Thelma, it's like I always say "everything happens for a reason." You have great taste, that pattern is beautiful.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Joanne it is such a coincidence that a few minutes ago I was looking at a platter on Ebay with the barn and tree pattern you said you liked. I was debating on purchasing it and starting a collection with a new pattern. I pretty much had decided against it then I saw your comment come in and it must be fate! I love that pattern...


Joanne M Olivieri 3 years ago

What a wonderful pattern. I love the tree with the barn in the background. I have heard the name but never knew anything about the history etc... I am a limited edition plate collector from way back or I should say was a collector. I have recently pared down and sold most of my plates but the art still fascinates me. I very much enjoyed this hub.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

ytsenoh I collect the Mirror Image pattern shown in the picture above. The picture doesn't do it justice. Like you said, the glaze makes the image come alive. Sometimes I just stand in front of my china cabinet and marvel at how pretty they are. Thanks for your comments on this hub.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

I love these dishes, but I love art on dishes. It's interesting, too, to see how the glaze can make the images come alive. Thanks for sharing the history of these interesting dishes! Checking out the website now.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

The Blue Ridge Pottery Show is going on this weekend (Oct 5, 6, 7 2012) in Erwin, Tennessee in conjunction with the Fall Festival there.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Please note I have added the dates for the 2012 pottery show and sale above. I plan to be there and I hope you will too!


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Junklady I agree that French Peasant is a really nice pattern. You might find the celery dish at the Blue Ridge Pottery show in Erwin, Tennessee the first weekend in October. Thanks for your comment.


junklady 4 years ago

Started collecting Blue Ridge 35 years ago. My Mother was caring for an older couple when they were very elderly. Mother was able to receive several pieces of crabapple from them. Mother has passed them on to me and that is how it all started. Today I have 5 complete sets. My favorite is French Peasant. All pieces for 12 except CUPS & SAUCERS. I'm looking for the celery dish. Enjoyed your article very much, very imformative!! Let's have more!!.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Debbie, Ridgedaisy is a very beautiful and colorful pattern. I bet your table is gorgeous when set with all of your pieces. Thanks for your comments and happy collecting of Blue Ridge Pottery!


Debbie H.(Canada) 4 years ago

I have 74 pieces of the pattern Ridgedaisy.The yellow fiowers with brown centers and deep green leaves make a very bright and sunny looking table . I love all the bright and lively patterns in the Blueridge Mountain pottery.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Laura I am so glad you found my article also. I didn't know about Blue Ridge Pottery either until I stumbled on it at a flea market about 15 years ago. Since then I have collected the Mirror Image (also known by the name Red Nocturne). I finally have enough pieces to set a table for 8. One of the prettiest table settings I ever saw was a combination of different patterns. It is so hard to choose a favorite pattern as they are all so beautiful! Thanks for reading my article on Collecting Blue Ridge Pottery.


Laura 4 years ago

So glad I found your sight, I didn't know the history. My grandmother is from a little town north of Asheville, NC and she had bought some dishes for her parents. I got one after her father died. He still had and used a wood burning stove and it was stored where it turned black with smoke. When I cleaned it I was on love. My grandmother gave me the disestablishment she has and I've found some at various stores....now I'm hooked. I can't wait to set my table with them one day when I have enough to do so. (My favorite is the mirror I'm age too, that's the style of flower that I have!)


Kiltlady 4 years ago

I was been given my grandmother's French Peasant pitcher in 1983 by my dear mother before she passed away....it is in wonderful condition and I display it proudly. I would love to add pieces as I can find them....it will never be for sale but wondering what I should perhaps insure it for or should it even be insured? Any hints as to any good sources to look for more French Peasant and prices that I should expect to pay reasonably? Thank you!


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Julia I bet she had some wonderful stories to tell! Thanks for your comments.

Thelma


Julia Harris Kieninger 4 years ago

My family is from Harris Hallow and my grandmother was one of Ladies that painted the pottery.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Pam,

Thanks for sharing your collecting experiences. What are your favorite patterns?

Thelma


Pam 4 years ago

I started with a saucer and now have two complete sets, plus 50 misc pieces. Each piece I hold speaks to me and carries the history of our country. I had no idea what I learned from your post. In Oklahoma it is hard to find much more than saucers, but the quest continues to save each piece. Collector of 2 decades.


peggy 5 years ago

I saw a French peasant pitcher recently & fell in love w'it what would be a reasonable price to pay for it


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

I love all stuff 'folk art'. The style of painting on the china definitely has that sweet primitive feel to it. Great hub, thanks for sharing

regards Zsuzsy


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Simone thank you for the kind words. As a newbie I need all of the encouragement I can get!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Indeed, these dishes are interesting! I had never known that there was a distinct style that emerged from the region. Great Hub!


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Thanks so much for the nice comment dearabbysmom. This is my very first article for hubpages and I am very excited!


dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 5 years ago from Indiana

Very interesting and the artwork is beautiful! I can hear the laughter of the artists, too :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working