The F in Fiestaware has changed considerably since the 1930s.The original Fiesta is always lower case and has no loops. The word Genuine began appearing The original molds from the 30s were used in the production of the new Fiesta after 1986.Uranium decays into thorium-234, which emits beta and gamma radiation. Continuing the decay scheme, the dishes would be expected to contain some protactinium-234, which emits beta and gamma radiation, and uranium-234, which emits alpha and gamma radiation.There is no evidence that the people who made these dishes suffered any ill effects from exposure to the glazes, so you probably don't have a lot to worry about by just being around the dishes.As it typically stands I'm one to find out how to recognize a valuable piece post sale and a not so valuable piece post purchase.And so it goes with the recent score of Fiestaware mugs and saucers.Here's a look at just how radioactive the dishes are today and the risks of using them for serving food.
The half-life of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years, so you can rest assured pretty much all of the original uranium oxide remains in the dishes.The rare find being an exciting score for it's vibrant colors, distinguishable style, and if you know how to spot vintage, its lucrative possibilities.New or old Fiestaware is a welcome and uncommon thrift store find, it just so happens the latter won't bode well for resale.Ingestion of uranium could increase the risk of tumors or cancer, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.However, Fiesta and other dishes are a lot less radioactive than many other items produced during the same era.And it's those original colors that are most sought by collectors.As for my newly acquired Fiestaware, I'll give them a spin on e Bay but from the looks of it these vibrant pieces will be keeping me and my morning coffee company for a some time to come.In 1943, manufacturers stopped using the ingredient because the uranium was used for weapons.Homer Laughlin, the maker of Fiesta, resumed using the red glaze in the 1950s, using a depleted uranium. Fiesta Ware manufactured after this date is not radioactive.Also, other pottery from the era was glazed using similar recipes, so just about any pottery from the early to mid 20th century may be radioactive.The dishes are highly collectible, both because of their vivid colors (and because the radioactivity is cool.) But is it really safe to eat off these dishes or are they best thought of as decorative pieces to be admired from afar?