Franciscan El Patio

Gladding-McBean introduced their first dinnerware line, Franciscan El Patio, under their Franciscan Pottery division in 1934. El Patio initially came in eight colors, and expanded to 18+ in the almost 20 years that the line was produced. El Patio has been found in different variations of these colors, and the carafe has been seen in black. The design of El Patio’s distinctive pretzel handled shaped cups is attributed to Mary Grant. Early cups feature the traditional c-shaped handle. El Patio is notable for its simple, clean design.

The entire line encompasses roughly 100 different pieces – everything from dinnerware to hostessware (cigarette boxes, candlestick holders, etc.). Since it was in production for such a long time, standard pieces El Patio — such as place settings and common serving pieces — are not difficult to find and prices are reasonable. As with all the California pottery produced during the period, beverage sets are very common. El Patio boasts three versions of their popular carafe – one with a wooden handle, one with a pottery handle, and another with a metal holder. Unlike the other pottery companies, carafe lids were sold separately, which is why you may see so many examples without them (or with lids of different colors).

A year or two after El Patio hit the market, GMcB began to produce variations of the line, including a duo-tone glazed El Patio Nuevo and the hand-painted line, Padua. Since this was their first foray into hand-painting, GMcB needed to purchase new equipment to support the lining process (spinning tables that facilitate painting lines on dinnerware items), and hire new staff (primarily women working part-time). Only 30 or so pieces were produced in the pattern, which was likely discontinued around 1942.