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Liberty Blue

Several years ago, I was searching for a Mother’s Day gift for my Mom. My Mom is a collector of all things patriotic. She has flags, Uncle Sam’s, and Lady Liberty’s, just to name a few. I was looking for something that would blend with her patriotic home decor, something that she didn’t already have. One day, I stumbled across a blue and white ironstone plate. It depicts a historic scene inside Independence Hall, where the founders adopted both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Independence Hall is also the original home of the iconic Liberty Bell. I thought to myself, “This is it.” When I purchased that plate, I had no idea it was part of a dinnerware set. I had never heard of Liberty Blue dishes, and I certainly had no idea how one piece of stoneware would become a treasured family heirloom.

Liberty Blue was produced for the Benjamin Franklin Federal Savings and Loan Company. The board of directors was looking for something special to commemorate their fiftieth anniversary in 1975. They contracted the Enoch Wedgwood Company in Staffordshire, England, to manufacture a unique pattern of ironstone dinnerware for the Benjamin Franklin Savings and Loan. The result was Liberty Blue, a dinnerware set containing fifteen different historic scenes from Colonial America bordered with a mixture of wild flowers. It’s rather ironic that this colonial American design was created in England and that it’s introduction coincides with the United States Bicentennial of Independence celebrated in 1976.

Liberty Blue was a promotional piece to encourage more deposits with the Benjamin Franklin Savings and Loan Company. First deposits of $50.00 or more allowed new customers to purchase a four piece place setting for only $4.95, and the company added a complimentary Benjamin Franklin coaster to that first purchase. Other pieces could be purchased at special prices as well. If a customer made a deposit of $1,000.00 he or she could purchase a forty-five-piece services for only $45.00.

Liberty Blue was manufactured for only two years. In October of 1976, the Benjamin Franklin Savings and Loan Company announced that the promotion would time out by the end of the year, and this was a huge incentive for account holders to continue making additional deposits. After December thirty first, additional pieces could still be ordered through the Sigma Marketing Company in New York at a higher cost.

Sometime after 1976, Liberty Blue reappeared to be sold in national grocery stores on a limited run. Purchasing the re-introduced dish-ware was similar to buying it through the Benjamin Franklin Savings and Loan Company as grocery purchases qualified shoppers for reduced prices.

Today, you can still purchase these items at your local antique malls. The four piece place setting continues to be reasonably priced and is easy to find. However, the serving pieces are harder to find and can be expensive.

There is no better feeling than that which comes from giving the person you love a gift that she absolutely loves. In fact, my Mom has collected every piece in the entire set. According to her, one day she will hand them down to me. Looking back, I never would have dreamed that the decorative plate I purchased for my Mom so long ago would become such a cherished family heirloom.

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