Jan 13, 2012

Fiesta Friday: Is a pitcher worth a thousand words?

Barry Zito is a very
expensive pitcher

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But how much is a pitcher worth?

Well, if he (or she) can throw like Barry Zito, they are worth a lot more than a thousand words.

Beyond the boys of summer, there are Fiesta pitchers.

A few weeks ago, I did a quick rundown on the ball jug/tilt pitchers made by Fiesta under the Harlequin name, along with other similar pottery pieces of that era.  The ball jugs are usually found with fairly modest price tags; full size pitchers in pristine condition can command $100, maybe $150 or $200 if the right buyer comes along.  The smaller creamer-size versions bring far less - I snagged mine for $5, which was a bargain, but pretty typical.

However, if the pitcher in question is a full-size Fiesta disk pitcher in the ever-elusive medium green full-size, like this one:

 Or a gray juice-size Fiesta in perfect condition, like the smaller one shown here:

then they can command major-league prices in the ballpark of $2,000 or more.  (All puns intended.)

One of Fiesta's most unique and iconic pieces is the disk pitcher.  Fiesta included a disk-shaped juice pitcher in their very first year of production, then added a larger 7-inch pitcher in 1938.  They continue dominating the disk pitcher market with the larger version in all the new colors, along with a newer (post-1986) mini disk version that holds five ounces and works as a personal creamer or syrup server.

While sorting out the old and new can be a challenge, at least there aren't nearly as many look-alike disk pitchers as there are ball/tilt jugs.

I've found some disk pitchers, but really none of them would be mistaken for a Fiesta pitcher.  While a few of these pieces have great  lines and shapes in their own right, it seems the disk pitcher is/was fairly difficult to execute with graceful lines.  I've picked out some of the better attempts, as well as a few that are undoubtedly beautiful in the eyes of their beholders.

Hall Pottery made several attempts with disk pitchers; some were more graceful than others.

Alamo Pottery made a version that was stylish and pretty - and the shape is similar to Fiesta, although the markings are distinctly different:

Vernon Kiln Pottery's Vernonware disk pitcher was particularly graceful and came in several colors:

Feltman-Langer USA, creators of the no-spill travel mug, made their own splash on the mid-century pottery scene with this sleek horizontal ribbed version:

Universal Potteries' disk jugs were...well, we'll just call 'em distinctive. They even came with a cap for the spout.

A few more full-size jug mugs in this rogue's gallery.  On the left is a Wallace China pitcher; on the right is a Shawnee/McCoy "Stars" pitcher - you have to look closely to see the embossed stars:

And here are some miniature disk pitchers. These mini disks are both most likely from Cronin/Sevilla.  At a glance, they look much like a Fiesta pitcher, except for the lower handle placement; those with the telltale white interior are definitely not Fiesta.

Below is a Cantinaware Pottery creamer.  This is a relatively new piece in a line offered by Target in the mid-1990s until a court-ordered injunction was issued by Homer Laughlin.

 There's even a collector's market for "Burrite" plastic disk jugs. To each his own...

And now for the final burning questions on everyone's mind, I'm sure:

1.  Is it "disk" or "disc?"  Disk is the older word, but both refer to thin, circular things.  You'll find the pitchers labeled both ways.
2.  And about the term pitcher?  It was first used by the ancient Greeks to describe earthen vessels.  It wasn't until 1845 that it was used to designate the baseball player on the center mound.

If you are a Fiesta lover, you'll undoubtedly want to add some disk pitchers to your (ahem) "lineup." Fortunately, they can be had for much less than an MLB player's contract.

Happy collecting,

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