Collecting Vintage Blue Ridge Pottery Dishes Made in Appalachia

Updated on November 5, 2017
ThelmaC profile image

Thelma is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics. She is a long-time collector of Blue Ridge pottery.

"June Bouquet" is one of many patterns of Blue Ridge dishes
"June Bouquet" is one of many patterns of Blue Ridge dishes
This beautiful pattern is my newest collection of Blue Ridge.
This beautiful pattern is my newest collection of Blue Ridge. | Source

These Vintage 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 1930's to 1950's 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 and are in high demand.

This cheerful dish is an example of the Sunflower pattern.
This cheerful dish is an example of the 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 line of Blue Ridge 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. The use of a method of hand painting the dishes before the final glaze was fired, resulted in vibrant colors which made the designs come alive. Women were recruited from "up in the hills" who 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, 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 additional details. The patterns and jobs were changed frequently to prevent the work from becoming too monotonous for the painters.

Sales of the 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 earning 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. They had 11 showrooms throughout the country including one on New York's Fifth Avenue. The dishes became a popular premium item offered by companies such as Quaker Oats and Avon. Stanley Home Products had their own Blue Ridge Pottery pattern called "Stanhome" which was offered as an incentive to purchasers of their home products. Major catalog retailers such as Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward carried the Blue Ridge dishes 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 production of the beautiful and loved dishes. Fortunately, they were able to pay their debts and stockholders and avoided filing bankruptcy.

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. However, 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 vintage 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 Blue Ridge pottery compared to other 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.

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 which feature a variety of patterns.

2018 Blue Ridge Pottery Show

The Blue Ridge Pottery shows for 2018 in Erwin, Tennessee are scheduled for October 4th, 5th and 6th.

Brochure for 2018 Show and Sale

Display at Blue Ridge Collectors Club Show and Sale

How do you rate the products of Blue Ridge Pottery?

4.7 out of 5 stars from 30 ratings of Blue Ridge Pottery

Are you a Blue Ridge Pottery Collector?

See results

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?

Questions & Answers

  • I have a large collection of an apple or cherry design. I never use them and am wondering what they might be worth. Any idea how to value or sell them?

    There are a couple of Blue Ridge collector's clubs on Facebook. If you post a picture of the pattern and describe the pieces you have, perhaps another collector might be able to tell you about the value.

  • Is all Blue Ridge pottery marked?

    No, I'm afraid some are not marked and that adds to the confusion of knowing if you have a real Blue Ridge pottery dish.

  • Where can I sell my Blue Ridge Bamboo pattern set of dishes?

    You might try listing them on eBay. There are also a couple of collector clubs on Facebook.

  • Since the plates are hand painted underglaze are they safe to eat on?

    Yes, I have eaten on mine for many years.

  • Someone recently gave my grandson some of this pottery. It is in nearly pristine condition. How can I tell if it is really from that era?

    There are a few books that have been written with descriptions and pictures of the patterns. There are a couple of Facebook pages for collectors of Blue Ridge Pottery where you could post a picture of it and ask the collectors about it.

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Leave Your Comments About Blue Ridge Pottery

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    • profile image

      Jennifer Galligan 

      2 weeks ago

      I have been a casual collector of these pieces for about 10 years, ever since my mother gave me 3 dinner plates she found at an antique store. I look for them (almost any pattern) whenever I go thrift store shopping. I just purchased a bunch of pieces today at the local Goodwill; about 25 pieces in the Sunfire pattern. I also have many pieces in the Carol's garden pattern. I can't pick a favorite. They are all beautiful. They are all different, but I can spot one a mile away. Thanks for this article!

    • profile image

      Gail Hogan 

      3 weeks ago

      I have my Grandmother's dishes which appear to called Carol's Roses from what i have researched. They are beautiful and seldom used.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      4 weeks ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      I have washed my Blue Ridge Pottery dishes in the dishwasher many times with no problems. If you are worried, try it on just one piece first to be sure it will be ok.

    • profile image

      Dee 

      4 weeks ago

      I have an incomplete set of June bouquet dishes. I inherited them from my grandmother. Can I put them in the dishwasher?

    • profile image

      Forest flower 

      4 months ago

      I love the greens and the simple shape. I look for Blue Ridge in every thrift store I visit.

    • profile image

      MarilynIN 

      5 months ago

      Chintz. I think it is number 3090, I inherited my Mother's set that she collected after she died. It was only used during the holidays. I've bought more pieces of this pattern and have quite an extensive Chintz collection now.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Monica the numbers on the bottom of your Blue Ridge Pottery are pattern numbers. Thanks for asking!

    • profile image

      Ann Payton 

      5 months ago

      I have about 500 pieces of Blue Ridge -- wish I had enough space to display it all. Haven't bought any new pieces in about 10 yrs. I want to go to the show in Erwin this fall.

    • profile image

      Mialinda Francis 

      5 months ago

      Anyone looking to become an automatic collector. I have over 50 patterns and some sets to sale due to inheritance.

    • profile image

      Monica Lisko 

      6 months ago

      I have an apple bowl and it has a number on the back which is 3770. Does the number mean anything!

    • profile image

      Jen 

      8 months ago

      I've got a plate that has blue Ridge pottery on the back, along with other writing. It was my grandmother's, around 110 yeas old. Would you know the worth?

    • profile image

      Judy linticum 

      9 months ago

      I'd like to find a way to get the things I've collected sold and there value

    • profile image

      Sharon Meade 

      10 months ago

      I have my mother's complete set of Blue Ridge Norma.

    • profile image

      Gladys 

      12 months ago

      I have @ 88 pcs of

      Blue ridge pottery

      Fruit punch design , need help

      With Prices - need to sell

    • profile image

      Rodney&Regina Willbanks 

      12 months ago

      My Mom left me a complete set of plates cups saucers bowls, desert

      Plates serving bowls and serving platters. They are yellow flowers with a brown middle

    • profile image

      Cindy in idaho 

      12 months ago

      Just found an orphan salt shaker @ shop in Silver City Idaho. On reseach found it's a Blue Ridge Chintz shaker, I love the design! Now I have to find it a mate and cork☺️

    • profile image

      Sydney Nichols 

      15 months ago

      Great article! Thanks for sharing. I am a collector of Blue Ridge for the past 26 years with about 8 years as a dealer (4 as a dealer at the Blue Ridge Show in Erwin). I collect the Wild Strawberry, Berryville, Talsiman Wild Strawberry, Mary, Demi's among other Blue Ridge. It all started with a Wild Strawberry plate hanging on the wall in a Birmingham, Al antique shop! 1,000's of pieces later, I still love Blue Ridge!!!

    • profile image

      Paula Izumi 

      15 months ago

      Red Nocturne is my favorite and the pattern which I collect. I bought random pieces of that and several other patterns at thrift shops and yard sales, always attracted to their warmth and color first, before turning them over to find that they were made by Blue Ridge Southern Potteries.

    • profile image

      Cecelia 

      16 months ago

      I collect Mountain Ivy because my grandmother had several pieces.

    • profile image

      Sandy Hale 

      23 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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 

      2 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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.

    • profile image

      Renee 

      2 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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!

    • profile image

      Stacy 

      2 years 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.

    • profile image

      Linda Quaas Blaylock 

      3 years ago

      Bravo Thelma. This is a wonderful page.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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.

    • profile image

      Sharon Fritcher 

      3 years 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.

    • profile image

      Gran 

      3 years 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!

    • profile image

      Linda 

      3 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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

      Peg Cole 

      5 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.

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 

      5 years ago

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

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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...

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 

      5 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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

      Cathy 

      5 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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.

    • profile image

      junklady 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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!

    • profile image

      Debbie H.(Canada) 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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.

    • profile image

      Laura 

      6 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!)

    • profile image

      Kiltlady 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

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

      Thelma

    • profile image

      Julia Harris Kieninger 

      6 years ago

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

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Pam,

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

      Thelma

    • profile image

      Pam 

      6 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.

    • profile image

      peggy 

      7 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 

      7 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

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

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 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 imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      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 

      7 years ago from Indiana

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

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