Roses are probably the most widely used flower for decorating dinnerware. One of the most popular patterns is Desert Rose created in California by Frederick and Mary Grant in 1941 for the Gladding McBean pottery. It is a depiction of the Rosa rugosa, a shrub that grows into a dense thicket with tomato sized hips.First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy chose Franciscan Desert Rose for use in the White House and is on display in the Smithsonian as one of the largest selling patterns in the history of American dinnerware. A rugged wild plant, this rose grows wild on coastlines and sand dunes and is commonly called beach tomato, sea tomato, saltspray rose and beach rose. Valued for its resistance to diseases such as black spot and rust it is endangered as a wild plant. It has been hybridized and is now sold as Knock Out Roses.
Rosa rugosa hips pink rosa Franciscan Desert Rose
Another popular line of dinnerware featuring roses was introduced in 1933 by the Homer Laughlin pottery called Virginia Rose. However, the Virginia Rose (rosa virginiana) was not the rose featured on its ware.This was actually the name given to the shape and was decorated with a myriad of floral designs but the most popular was the Moss Rose or “fluffy rose” decal. Named after the general managers granddaughter, it was designed by Frederick Hurten Rhead who also designed Fiestaware and was sold for decades through Woolworth’s. Moss Roses (Portulaca grandiflora) ) produce flowers ranging from one inch to two inches, in bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples and pinks set atop green, succulent leaves. An annual, they need good drainage and bright sun and thrive well in strawberry jars.
Moss Rose Detail of Moss "Fluffy" Rose Virginia Rose bowl
Many other American potteries featured floral patterns and trees on their ware in the early days of this industry. Pictured are some other early decals of roses. In the next article we will take a look at some of the other popular floral designs such as the Blue Onion, Blue Willow and Blue Tulip that were in use.
Devon Spray Roses Detail of Devon Spray Blue Ridge Roses
W.S. George "Derwood " 1898 Detail of Derwood Homer Laughlin Rose Bowl
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 19, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)