The Homer Laughlin China Company initially began as Laughlin Pottery in East Liverpool, Ohio. The company was started in 1871 by brothers Shakespeare and Homer Laughlin, however Shakespeare would later leave the company in 1879. In 1889, William Edwin Wells joined Homer and seven years later the two would incorporate. Homer would sell his interest to Wells shortly thereafter. The firm experienced rapid growth and opened a facility in Newell, West Virginia in 1903. By the late 1920s all production was centered at the West Virginia factory and the Ohio site was abandoned.
In the 1920s the firm advertised itself as the largest pottery company in the world. Estimates of production range from 25,000 to 35,000 different patterns over the century plus. Homer Laughlin began producing the popular and colorful Fiesta line in 1936. In addition to Fiesta, two other lines of colorful dinnerware in bright, solid-colored glazes were introduced in the 1930s. Harlequin was introduced in 1938 as a less expensive alternative to Fiesta available at Woolworth's stores. They also produced Riviera dinnerware, which is distinctive for its triple-scalloped edges. Riviera was available red, yellow, light green and mauve blue, ivory and occasionally cobalt blue. Production of Riviera ceased in the late 1940s. Harlequin was produced until 1964 and was briefly reintroduced later.