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Franciscan Desert Rose California Pottery is Still Popular

Updated on June 4, 2016

What's So Special About Desert Rose?

At one time Franciscan Desert Rose was the most popular dinnerware pattern in the United States. Why do so many people love its whimsical, but classic look? Why is vintage Desert Rose so sought after, even today?

Is it because many of us remember holiday dinners at our grandmother's house, eating from Desert Rose dishes, with their distinctive raised hand-painted pink flowers, set against a tangle of leaves and stems?

I know that's why I treasure these plates so much, and why I've taken the time to collect a few pieces of this timeless pattern myself.

Image Credit: Copyright ologsinquito

Where to Find Vintage Desert Rose

Franciscan Desert Rose China was originally manufactured by Gladding, McBean Co. in Southern California beginning in the early 1940s. Eventually, production was shifted to England and then to China and finally to Thailand, where it's still made today.

It's the USA-made pieces, no longer produced, that are collector items. These pieces look different than the current version. Old Desert Rose is smaller in dimension and it has distinct raised pink buds and roses, as well as raised green leaves and brown vine. The newer version is still pretty, but it has the look of being mass produced.

Antique Desert Rose in good condition is not always easy to find. Complete sets may sometimes be picked up at auctions and estate sales, if you're lucky. Often, it's not possible to buy single pieces, although sometimes they're available. It's easier to acquire individual pieces if you're willing to settle for a bowl with a small chip or a platter with a visible gouge. Some people think these imperfections add character.

Amazon sometimes carries Desert Rose made in America, as well as newer pieces made in China and Thailand.

Vintage Desert Rose is also sold on ebay, but you have to move quickly because bidding can be lively. Or you can purchase a "Buy it Now" listing.

Yet another way to enjoy vintage Desert Rose is with a piece of artwork created from broken cups, plates, bowls and platters. These are precious items because these lovely dishes aren't being made the same way anymore.

Image Credit: Copyright ologsinquito

Beautiful Antique Desert Rose

Image Credit: Copyright ologsinquito

Broken Franciscan Desert Rose Jewelry

It's not always easy to find pieces of original Franciscan Desert Rose, made by Gladding McBean from the 1940s to the 1980s. But you can still treasure the memories of this popular dinnerware pattern by wearing a beautiful pendant made from broken Desert Rose plates and serving accessories. Each piece of hand-painted jewelry is one of a kind, because each piece of Franciscan Desert Rose was one of a kind.

I Collect Desert Rose as a Tribute to My Grandmother

My grandmother had many pieces of Desert Rose, as she was very fond of this pattern. These colorful dishes got pulled out of her china closet for company and for various family events. At Thanksgiving and Christmas she'd bring out every piece she owned, including an assortment of little relish dishes that she liked to fill with olives and pickles.

She also had tea pots and coffee pots, as well as enough cups and saucers to invite a small army in for afternoon tea. During the holidays, my cousins and I spent a lot of time washing and drying these dishes, because they couldn't go into the dishwasher. Then we'd carefully put them on my grandmother's dining room table because she liked to put them away herself.

I'm not quite sure why my grandmother started collecting Desert Rose in the first place. But I think it might have had something to do with the fact that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy also acquired a set of Desert Rose, making an already popular pattern even more so.

After my grandmother's death, her dishes were given to other relatives as we have a large, extended family. My sister, though, decided to buy some for herself. She urged me to start picking up a few pieces as well, because she knew how much I missed my grandmother, and she thought this would be a way to keep her memory alive.

Image Credit: Copyright ologsinquito

Image credit: ologsinquito
Image credit: ologsinquito

Serving a Meal with Desert Rose

I've since purchased enough antique Desert Rose to serve a sit-down dinner for six. Not all of the pieces are in perfect condition, and I don't have any soup bowls or enough salad plates to match my six dinner plates. So I've had to mix the old pieces with some of the more recently manufactured pieces.

The Desert Rose pattern is subtle, but strong, so it's hard to get creative with napkins and other table accessories. Having too many candles or flowers on the table seems to throw off a delicate balance. The classic Southwest design seems to look best on a simple white or cream-colored tablecloth without a lot of fuss or extras.

Because these elegant dishes stand so well on their own, and don't require a lot of surrounding accessories, they make it extremely easy to set a beautiful table.

Image Credit: Copyright ologsinquito

Read More About Franciscan Desert Rose

Read how Desert Rose California pottery brings back warm family memories of holiday dinners at our grandmother's house.

Desert Rose is One of My Favorite Patterns

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    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi chaltom

      I'm glad you like the roses. Thank you for visiting

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      Very pretty rose pattern

    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi ConvenientCalendar,

      I'm happy you like Desert Rose. It's a beautiful pattern.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These are great!

    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi FlowerChick,

      I'm happy you liked this. Thank you for visiting.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 

      5 years ago from Naperville, IL

      This lens brings back memories! Thank you for the info and beautiful photos.

    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Magda,

      Thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the intro photo. My mother sometimes finds Desert Rose pieces at auctions and buys them for my sister and me. She gave that to me for Christmas.

    • Magda2012 profile image


      5 years ago

      Beautiful collections, I love the intro picture.

    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi iamraincrystal,

      Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. You are named after a very beautiful flower. If your Mom liked roses, she would have liked this pattern very much.

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 

      5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Lovely pattern indeed! ^_^ I'm named after a rose. I guess my mom would have liked to collect this pattern too if she knew about it. ^_^

    • ologsinquito2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Kiwinana71, Thanks so much for reading and for commenting. Have a wonderful day.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      Very nice, well done lens. I like Franciscan desert Rose china, it's beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.


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