If you sell items on Etsy or EBay, sooner or later, you will run into pottery objects from California — and especially one originating from what is known as the “Big 5” California potteries.
I’ve posted about Gladding McBean — one of the “Big 5’s” — as I owned and listed Franciscan dinnerware items in the Jamoca pattern.
I recently listed a pair of hand-painted “Vernonware” / Vernon Kiln salad plates manufactured between 1937 and 1958.
Founded in 1931, Vernon Kilns was based in Vernon, California (about 5 miles south of downtown Los Angeles) and created many ceramic tableware patterns, as well as art ware, figurines and gift ware.
In 1940, they signed a contract with Walt Disney to produce film-related figurines based on characters from the films Dumbo, Fantasia and the Reluctant Dragon.
Especially because of their association with Walt Disney, it it safe to say you will run into not only tableware made by Vernon Kilns, but also collectible figurines (though I have not, as of yet… but then my pottery interest are more related to dining, cookware, garden pots and vases and not figurines).
As of September, 2015, if you type in “Vernonware” in the Etsy search box, you will get 18 pages of listings for over 700 objects!
Here is an image of the 1st page. So many choices…
It seems the hand-painted “Organdie” pattern was popular and available in many shapes, so it would be easier to collect items in this pattern.
The Organdie pattern was designed by Gale Turnbull, who was hired by Vernon Kilns as their art director in 1935.
Vernon Kilns closed in 1958 due to increasing manufacturing and labor costs, as well as competition from foreign-made ceramic tableware and figurine manufacturers.
Besides Gladding, McBean & Co. and Vernon Kilns, the other “Big 5” were:
- Pacific Clay Products
- J.A. Bauer Potteries
- and the Metlox Manufacturing Company — who, interestingly, purchased Vernon Kilns and continued to make some of the Vernon Kiln items, until Metlox also closed down in the late 1980s.
Here is a Vernonware pitcher listed in the shop (in the “Sherwood” pattern – and San Clemente shape) that continued to be made by Metlox (manufactured between 1958 to 1965).
Please comment about your own California pottery finds — I’d like to know more about about companies beyond the “Big 5” as well.
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