The History of the Franciscan Desert Rose

Laura Reynolds

Franciscan Desert Rose hand-painted earthenware is an American classic that, according to Bob Page and Dale Frederiksen, authors of “Franciscan: an American Dinnerware Tradition,” is one of the most popular china patterns in history.


Franciscan desert rose broad-rimmed plates feature scalloped edges. Pink roses and green leaves sit in relief upon a cream ground. Flowers are joined by briar-lined vines around the rim edge.

Gladdings McBean

Franciscan’s parent, Gladdings, McBean & Co. (GMcB) was founded as a Los Angeles clay building products manufacturer in 1875. GMcB developed malinite, the basis for its creamy-colored earthenware in 1928.


With the acquisition of Tropico Pottery in 1922 and Catalina Pottery in 1937, GMcB entered the pottery business. The Franciscan pottery line premiered in 1934 and the FDR pattern was introduced in 1941 after Franciscan’s 1940 “Apple.”


In 1984, FDR molds and production lines were moved to England by their new owners, Wedgewood Ltd. In 1987, the pattern was acquired by Johnson Brothers, who produced a limited line of 60th anniversary pattern pieces in 2001. All production moved to China by 2004.


The malinite formula or original Franciscan molds are not used in Chinese-produced FDR dinnerware. Antique stores and replacement clearinghouses offer many American and English pieces.