Advertising

ADVERTISING

Pacific Clay primarily sold Hostessware through large full-service department stores and specialty shops in Southern and Central California. Bullock’s Department Store at Broadway & 7th had a huge pottery department and Parmelee-Dohrmann at 436-444 S. Broadway (practically across the street from each other) in downtown LA’s department store row, remained two of Pacific’s largest distributors. In fact, Parmelee billed themselves as “the largest china and arts goods store on the Pacific Coast.”

Pacific extended distribution into other western states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona) in the early-to-mid 1930s. You’ll find newspaper display advertising during the period in western publications, but nothing further east than Chicago (Marshall Fields). Around 1936, Pacific made a national play through an advertising campaign in Better Homes & Gardens. In 1938, Pacific published an add in Life magazine listing national distribution outlets for their Coralitos line. All the locations are either better name department or specialty stores.

Bullocks LA
The former Bullock's Department Store - Los Angeles
Pacific Pottery Magazine Advertising
Pacific Hostessware Better Homes & Gardens Advertising Campaign 1936

When you see pottery advertising from the 1930s, the copywriters and designers often substituted in different dinnerware lines or created their own generic pottery pieces to use in the piece. Also, copywriters would also create their own names for the colors – so what you might see in an ad would not be the official company name (for example, “jade green” vs. “silver green” and “powder blue” vs. “delph blue”).

With no company records available, display advertising and company catalogs give us indicators on geographic distribution, timelines and availability of colors, and pricing. For example, we don’t see Aqua and Apricot glazes showing up in advertising until around 1936. Around 1937-38, coinciding with the launch of the Arcadia and Coralitos dinnerware lines, most Hostessware advertising is for “irregulars” and factory closeout pieces. While Hostessware was produced through at least 1940, production was likely extremely limited. With changing consumer tastes, most manufacturers had moved away from “bright” color dinnerware production, and by 1941, many of the industrial materials used in the glazes were no longer available due to wartime needs.

The first Hostessware advertising piece comes from Fresno, California in 1933. We’re also able to date the launch of Decorated Hostessware in 1934 from a gift shop display ad in Covina, California.

Pacific Display Advertising
Various Pacific Pottery display advertising from the 1930s
INFORMAL!
QwkDog Pacific Informal

Informal!

Color for Your Table

A Completist’s Guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware

Want to learn more about Pacific Pottery? Informal is a complete as-we-know it guide to Pacific Pottery and their iconic Hostessware dinnerware line. Meticulously researched and compiled by one of the top Pacific collectors, Informal is an illustrated guide to all of the known Hostessware pieces — including decorated lines — with visuals, designs, and photographs.

BUY

 

 

Pacific Pottery Marks

Hostessware Marks and Backstamps

Pacific Pottery Marks - Foil Logo

Pacific Pottery Foil Logo

During their production run, Pacific Pottery used a variety of in-mold marks and backstamps to identify their pieces. Most Pacific Pottery pieces are marked, not only with the Pacific name, but also the piece number, making it easier to identify and categorize. Collectors will find two primary in-mold mark styles, the earlier handwritten “Pacific” with the number below, or the in-mold ring with “Pacific…Made in USA” with the piece number in the center. In the very last year or so of manufacture, you will sometimes see a diamond-shaped backstamp marked “Hostess Ware.” This mark is much harder to find since Hostessware production slowed down in the late 1930s as Pacific focused on other lines such as Arcadia, Coralitos, and artware.

It is also not unusual to find the foil sticker logo shown above on pieces. The sticker was used in the early days of production.

Click on any image to enlarge.

Pacific Pottery Marks - Backstamp 01Pacific Pottery Marks - Backstamp 02 Pacific Pottery Marks - Backstamp 03Pacific Pottery Marks - In-Mold Mark 02Pacific Pottery Marks - In-Mold Mark 01

 

Informal!

The Completist’s Guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware

Pacific Pottery Informal Guide

Welcome to Pacific Pottery Informal!, the most complete guide on Pacific Pottery Hostessware. Relatively little is known about Pacific’s Pottery Division. No historical company records are available, and almost everyone associated with the company during the 1930s is long gone. We don’t know who definitively designed Hostessware, and very little about the people that worked for the company during that time. What information is available has been captured from passed down conversations, a few company wholesale brochures, advertising pieces, news articles, and company annual reports. But the most relevant information has perhaps been gleaned from years of patient collecting and analyzing and comparing to put together a reasonable timeline of production, manufacture and distribution. Those insights and observations are included in this guide.

Informal! provides the most comprehensive view of Pacific Pottery’s iconic Hostessware dinnerware through the 1930s. Drawing on my personal collection of more than 2,500 pieces, I’ve connected the dots to bring you a virtually complete view of the entire line. The 100+ page book is full of photographs, painstakingly reproduced graphic designs, and original advertising pieces.

Get your copy of Informal! The Completist’s Guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware on Blurb.

 

The Mostly Complete Guide to Decorated Ware

Pacific Pottery Decorated Designs – Hostessware

Here is an illustrated list of patterns currently identified within the Pacific Pottery decorated design catalog. There is no documented list of patterns, although several patterns do appear in company wholesale guides and advertisements, but it’s not unusual for unique patterns to appear from time-to-time. Since the designs are applied by hand using in-glazing techniques, a lot of variability exists across pieces. Decorated ware is difficult to find, and while produced on a variety of pieces, is most commonly found on the #613 dinner plate. More common patterns include the BG series (plaids), BH (sine wave), BF (hub and spoke), E and G.

The patterns below were documented out of my personal collection as well as the collections of several other prominent collectors.
Pacific Pottery Decorated Ware

Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog

Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog & Price List

Late 1930s or early 1940-41 period Pacific Pottery artware catalog with wholesale pricing. Based on advertising from the period, the wholesale prices are roughly half retail. Click on any image to enlarge.

Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog Pacific Pottery Artware Catalog

Early Art & Gardenware

Pacific Art & Gardenware

“If you can’t sell what you make, make what you can sell.”

In the early 1930s, as production from their commercial pipe and tile business was slowing down, Pacific Clay Products began to produce architectural terra cotta and expand their offerings for garden and artware. 

“Manufacture of architectural terra cotta was begun shortly before the beginning of the past year and while the volume of business has not as yet been large, the product has been excellent and is growing in popularity. The line of garden pottery and artware has been considerably enlarged. These products are manufactured in the same department and it is believed that with the return of normal conditions, will prove important additions to your company’s lines.”

According to a 1992 interview with Ken Barrette, Pacific Clay’s accountant and Secretary to the Board, Pacific attempted to use a hand-painted glaze on their stoneware body (used to make crockery). However, they found the stoneware to be too heavy and prone to crazing. Their ceramics lab began to add talc to the clay to make it less absorbent. This change also resulted in the creation of lighter-bodied ware, paving the way for their dinnerware lines.

Many of the early Pacific Pottery early artware designs may be one of a kind. According to Ken:

“We had a man who had a potter’s wheel. When there was a convention of potters, independent salespeople could come and see it [the pottery], we would always have this man take his potter’s wheel down there and make whatever anyone asked for. Somebody could come along and say “Can you do this” and he’d do it…The man [whose name was forgotten] wasn’t an employee of ours, he was hired as a contractor for this type of work. No employees made hand thrown pottery on a full-time basis.”

“One of our jiggermen could operate a wheel in a rough sort of way, but we never made anything commercially that was produced on the potter’s wheel. He would produce a sample or two, a glaze would be selected, and the item would be shown around to stores and buyers. If there was any interest in it, we would make molds for it, and either jigger or cast it.”

Pacific Pottery Hostessware Piece List

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware Punch Cups

Complete Pacific Pottery Hostessware Piece List

QwkDog Design Pacific Pottery Informal

Like Hostessware? Buy the most complete guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware available.

This is the only complete list of known Pacific Pottery Hostessware pieces. As one of the most extensive collectors of Hostessware, I compiled the list based on my own deep collection, other preeminent collectors, company catalogs, and other source material.

The breadth and depth of the Pacific Pottery Hostessware line is pretty incredible.With more than 200 different pieces in this line produced over a period of just ten years, Hostessware stands out as the most extensive dinnerware line produced in the 1930s. The Hostessware lineup included a wide range of individual pieces, serving ware, and kitchen items. There are indications that Pacific produced many one-off or limited production pieces that would be displayed in their company showrooms for department store buyers. If buyers picked it up, then the piece would be more widely produced.

Everyone wants to know about pricing, but the dinnerware market in general is fairly soft. Pacific is not widely collected due to relative rarity of the pieces, and pricing can vary wildly. The prices in the existing reference book are very out of date (not to mention biased) and are significantly higher than current market prices. The good news is that you can pick up Pacific fairly cheaply, the bad news is that it will take you a long time to pull a set together. If you have a particular question about pricing or value (or are looking to sell something), send me a note. A reminder that just because something is rare doesn’t necessarily mean it’s desirable.

Pacific Pottery Hostessware

Known Pieces

Check out Informal! The Completist’s Guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware for a complete photo reference and information about each piece. Examples can be found in the gallery.

Number Piece
   CUPS & SAUCER
629 Cup, demitasse (2.5″)
631 Saucer, demitasse (4.25″)
608 Cup, tea (2.75″)
609A Saucer, tea (6″)
609B Saucer, coffee (6″)
607 Cup, coffee (flat bottom) – older style (3.5″)
634 Cup, coffee (flat bottom) – newer style
634 Cup, coffee (with foot) (3″)
313(A) Cup, punch (2.25″) – older style
313-bl Cup, punch (2.25″) – older style (BLACK)
313(B) Cup, punch (2.25″) – newer style
618 Mug, Tom & Jerry (3″)
   INDIVIDUAL PLATES
614 Plate, B&B (6.25″)
610 Plate, salad (7.25″)
611 Plate, luncheon (9.25″)
613 Plate, dinner (11″)
632 Plate, buffet (w/ cup well) – no tab
632 Plate, buffet (w/ cup well) – tabbed (5.75″)
615 Plate, divided grill (11″) (restyled)
615 Plate, divided grill (12″)
   INDIVIDUAL BOWLS
601 Sauce Dish (5.5″) (fruit bowl)
606 Sauce Dish (6″) (larger fruit bowl)
?? Bowl, 5.5″ (backstamped “Hostessware”)
667 Bowl, individual vegetable (6.25″ oval)
36A Bowl, handled soup
36AC Lid, handled soup
37 Bowl, onion soup
38 Bowl, tabbed (very early piece)
36R Bowl, mush (5.5″)
205 Baker (ramekin)
205C Lid, baker (ramekin)
206 Cup, custard
UNK Cup, custard (early)
654 Cup, sherbet
   TUMBLERS
409 Tumbler, large (5″)
411 Tumbler, small (4.25″)
418 Tumbler, antique (3.5″)
419 Tumbler, ball (5″)
431 Tumbler, barrel (4″)
433 Goblet, footed (5.5″)
651 Cup, cocktail (2″)
432 Coaster (3.75″)
   PITCHERS
420 Pitcher, ball
430 Pitcher, ring, 8.5″
427 Pitcher, 1/2-pt.
427-A Pitcher, 1/2-pt. (lid)
428 Pitcher, 1-pt.
429 Pitcher, 1-qt.
508 Pitcher, 2-qt.
508-A Pitcher, 2-qt. (lid)
417 Pitcher, antique
n/a Lid, pitcher, 2-qt. (see #508)
n/a Lid, pitcher, 1/2-pt. (see #427)
458 Pitcher, 1-pt. (restyled)
459 Pitcher, 1-qt. (restyled)
460 Pitcher, 2-qt. (restyled)
438 Carafe (w/ lid, wooden handle) – short neck (4 rings)
445 Carafe (w/ lid, wooden handle) – long neck (7 rings)
453 Buffet bottle (w/ lid)
410 Water bottle, covered (no handle)
630 Pitcher, martini
   SERVING BOWLS
640 Bowl, oval veg., divided (12″)
640A Bowl, oval veg., (12″) – lid
644 Bowl, oval veg. (9.25″)
664 Bowl, oval (12″)
677 Bowl, round veg. (8.5″)
? Lid, bowl, round veg. (#677)
602 Bowl, round veg., open tab handles, 9″
212 Bowl, serving, 6.5″ (pudding dish)
213 Bowl, serving, 7.5″ (pudding dish)
214 Bowl, serving, 8.5″ (pudding dish)
604 Soup tureen, covered
310 Bowl, salad (footed), 9″
311 Bowl, salad (footed), 11″
312 Bowl, punch (footed), 14″
314 Bowl, low salad (footed), 11-12″ x 3″
315 Bowl, low salad (footed), 8.25-8.5″ x 2.5″
663 Bowl, low 12″ (plainware)
624 Bowl, low 15″ (plainware)
623 Bowl, low 18″ (plainware)
   KITCHEN
215 Bowl, shirred egg dish, 6″
216 Bowl, shirred egg dish, 8″
? Bowl, batter (plainware) (large – on 12R bowl)
? Bowl, batter (plainware) (small – on 18R bowl)
301 Bowl, batter (on 12R bowl)
302 Pitcher, beater
   MIXING BOWLS
9R Bowl, mixing (10.25″)
12R Bowl, mixing (9.5″)
18R Bowl, mixing (8.5″)
24R Bowl, mixing (7″)
30R Bowl, mixing (6.5″)
36 Mini bowl, mixing, stepped (5.5″)
42 Mini bowl, mixing, stepped (4.5″)
48 Mini bowl, mixing, stepped (3.5″)
54 Mini bowl, mixing, stepped (2.5″)
60 Mini bowl, mixing, stepped (1.5″)
   SERVING PLATTERS
625 One-tier tidbit (11″) (on #613 plate)
626 Two-tier tidbit (11″,9″,7″)
412 Tray, target (small)
413 Tray, target, 15″ (tab handled)
451 Tray, target, 16″
444 Tray, oval, 13″
681 Tray, oval, 14″
682 Tray, oval, 15″
452 Tray, large, serve-all, 16″ (center well)
660 Platter, fish, 15.75″
661 Tray, serve-all, 11.25″ (center well)
659 Tray, 10.5″ (rectangular)
616 Tray, 12.5″ (rectangular)
617 Tray, 15″ (rectangular)
612 Plate, chop (15.75″)
619(a) Plate, cake (13″)
619(b) Plate, cake (14″)
680 Plate, chop (12″) (larger version of #639)
639 Plate, muffin warmer, 11.25″ (w/ wells for lid)
622 Flat salad server, 17″ (plainware)
627 Plate, 17″ – plainware (w/ lazy susan)
635 Cheese board (w/ wooden insert) (on #613 plate)
636 Cheese board (on #619 cake plate)
414 Cheese board (on #413 tab-handled platter)
 ? Cheese board (on #451 target platter)
   SERVING ACCESSORIES
668 Cover, toast platter (fits on #610 7″ plate)
603 Plate, relish, 3 part (9.5″)
641 Gravy boat
620-621 Salt & pepper shakers
662 Server, relish, 4 part (w/ handle)
643 Six compartment relish (handled), 16″
669 Butter dish (w/ cover)
207 Butter chip, 2.5″
437 Nut dish
434 Individual melted butter bowl, 4″ (decorated only?)
665 Server, salad dressing (divided, tab handles), 6″
666 Server, salad dressing, ind. (w/ handles)
416 Cover, cheese and cracker, 10″ (see #414)
633 Candy dish, 9.5″
405 Melted butter / nut dish, 3.75″ (plain)
425 Refrigerator box w/lid (square)
426 Cigarette box
   KITCHEN & BREAKFAST
232 Oventop set – pepper
233 Oventop set – grease jar
234 Oventop set – salt
305 Cookie or Pretzel Jar
656 Child’s plate, divided
657 Child’s mush bowl
658 Child’s mug
435 Pitcher, syrup (w/ lid) (plain & ringed)
436 Pitcher, waffle batter (w/ lid) (plain & ringed)
448 Jam/Condiment pot with metal handle
639 Lid, muffin plate, 9.5″ (see #639)
? Eggcup (mini – unlisted)
605 Eggcup (early style)
642 Eggcup (later style)
   CASSEROLES
221 Covered roaster (18″) (rectangle, w/ lid)
200 Casserole, 7″ (w/ lid)
201 Trivet (for #200)
202 Casserole, 8″ (w/ lid)
203 Trivet (for #202)
209 Casserole, 9″ (w/ lid)
211 Deep casserole
1214 Metal casserole stand (for #209)
306 Condiment jar (multiple sizes, 4-6″)
   BEANPOTS
235 Beanpot  (6″ – small)
236 Beanpot  (6.5″ – large)
228 Beanpot (large) (plainware – w/lid)
227 Beanpot (7-7.5″) (plainware – w/lid)
226 Beanpot  (6-6.5″) (plainware – w/lid)
225 Beanpot (small) (plainware – w/lid)
231A Beanpot (individual) (plainware – no/lid)
   BAKERS
645 Pie plate, 8″ (removable handle)
638 Pie plate, 10″ (removable handle)
222 Baker, 6″ (removable handle)
223 Baker, 7″ (removable handle)
224 Baker, 8″ (removable handle)
   COFFEE/TEAPOTS
417 Coffeepot, drip, 10-cup
442 Coffeepot, demitasse, 6-cup (9.25″)
443 Coffeepot, demitasse, individual
447 Teapot, 6-cup
446 Teapot, 4-cup
440 Teapot, 8-cup (low)
439 Teapot, 2-cup (low)
   SUGAR/CREAMERS
407 Sugar bowl, individual
407A Sugar bowl, individual – lid
408 Creamer, individual
449 Creamer, demi
450 Sugar bowl, demi
403 Sugar bowl, early style (round)
403A Sugar bowl lid
404 Creamer, early style (round)
461 Sugar bowl, 3″ (restyled)
462 Creamer, 3″ (restyled)
463 Sugar bowl, 4″ (restyled)
464 Creamer, 4″ (restyled)

Pacific Pottery Decorated Hostessware

Pacific Pottery Decorated Banner
Pacific Pottery Decorated Hostessware

In 1934, Pacific Pottery introduced their “decorated” lines – a series of glazed patterns on the Hostessware shape. Around 50 decorated Hostessware patterns have been found, but many of the patterns are undocumented. Pacific Pottery decorated Hostessware may sometimes have a painted notation or stamp on the bottom indicating a pattern ID. In the image example, there’s a notation marked hmc J307. I believe that “hmc” are the designer’s initials, as this handmark has been found on large decorated items and may reflect custom (perhaps even unique) designed pieces. J307 would refer to a pattern variant.

Pacific Pottery Decorated Mark

A 1937 article in the “California – Magazine of Pacific Business” on California pottery production states: “Pacific employs an overglaze process on decorated ware which requires three trips through the kilns, but following the third firing the pieces not only are ovenproof, but are crazeproof. California fruits, wheat and poppies are among their most popular items.” Company wholesale material refers to the ware as “Pacific Hand Decorated Fused Glaze service,” noting that “we can provide a wide range of splendid patterns in this type ware, but all patterns are sold on exclusive control.” Note that while Pacific states their ware is crazeproof, collectors will find pieces with heavy crazing that occurred over time.

Pacific decorated ware is in-glazed and went through a triple firing process – once for the bisque body, another for the base glaze color and a third for the design, which is fired into the piece. The designs would be created by workers (women, most likely) on a turning wheel using glaze and brush. In the image at left, you can see the double stilt marks from the two glaze turns through the kiln. Because of the production method, decorated items cost significantly more (30-50% higher) than standard Hostessware.

Better Homes & Gardens - 1936

Better Homes & Gardens – 1936

Around the same time period, Gladding-McBean (on their Padua line) and Vernon Kilns (Harry Bird lines) were also producing dinnerware items using similar in-glazing and painting techniques. Consumers responded the hand-painted dinnerware craze took off in the early 1940s with the success of Franciscan Desert Rose, Apple & Ivy, Vernon Kilns plaids, and Metlox Ivy. Painted dinnerware does not require a third glazing, which means lower production costs, but doesn’t have the same look as in-glazed ware.

Pacific Pottery decorated pieces are most commonly found on plates and platters, although the occasional serving piece shows up. Some of the more common patterns include the “BG” plaids, 2007 and 2008 circle designs, “BH” sine waves and “BF” hub and spoke. Based on my research, I believe that decorated patterns were available to department and specialty stores by custom order only.

Decorated Hostessware Pattern Identification

Pacific Pottery Decorated Ware

Decorated Ware Patterns | QwkDog Design (click to enlarge)

This illustration provides an overview of the different decorated patterns that have been discovered. Some are unique – maybe even one-offs – and others more prevalent. Due to its bespoke production and relative cost, decorated ware is hard to find today. In several large “wedding” (original purchase, unused) sets that I have purchased, decorated ware was incorporated as accent pieces to complement standard Hostessware.

For more examples, check out the Decorated Hostessware image gallery

Pacific Pottery Artware

Pacific Pottery Artware Vases

Pacific Pottery Artware #4601 Dancing Girl Vase and #4600 Bubble Girl Vase

Pacific Pottery Artware & Gardenware

Early Pacific Pottery Artware and Gardenware is extremely desirable and very difficult to find. You can find early artware is glazed in the same colors as early Hostessware: Apache Red, Yellow, Green and Pacific Blue, but also a selection of custom glazes – both solids and blends. The later artware line is much more common, and pieces can easily be found at low prices.

Towards the late 1930s, artware took on a more fanciful form and the Pacific Pottery artware division began to glaze primarily in matte pastel colors popular in the day. Typical colors include (in matte) white, light green, light yellow, light blue, and (in gloss) pink and aqua. Two-tone blends are also common. In the later artware line (post-1935), there close to 400 documented pieces. Towards the end of pottery production, later artware can be found in Coralitos glazes, and many artware pieces carry the Coralitos brand sticker.

Check out my Pinterest Pacific Pottery artware board for images and reference numbers. Follow the links below for additional information on early and late period art and gardenware.

Pacific Pottery Arcadia

ARCADIA

Around 1937-38 Pacific Pottery launched two new dinnerware lines, Arcadia and Coralitos while still continuing to produce Hostessware. During the late 1930s, consumer tastes were shifting, and with dinnerware trends tending to follow overall design trends, pottery manufacturers began to tone down the bright colors in favor of pastel hues and lighter body ware. Arcadia was a short set (limited pieces) offered in six matte colors: deep blue, delph, green, yellow, rose and ivory (official color names are not known). Arcadia included standard individual pieces and a limited range of serving pieces.

Arcadia features several types of marks, not all labeled with Pacific, making it challenging to identify the manufacturer if you’re not familiar with the line. Items may be found with a backstamp or an in-mold mark. There are three variations of the in-mold mark – the first (shown below) features the piece number with “Made in USA.” Other in-mold marks may feature “Pacific” or “Arcadia” above the piece number.

Like most Pacific Pottery, Arcadia is categorized by piece numbers that begin with “E” and most items feature the piece number with the in-mold mark. At some point around 1940, Pacific Pottery switched pretty much exclusively to the backstamp, and piece numbers are no longer featured (this applies to Hostessware as well).

Arcadia

Piece List

1937-40

  • E4 Teacup
  • E5 Saucer
  • E43 Bowl, Fruit 6″
  • E? Bowl, Cereal, 7″ (footed)
  • E? Plate, B&B, 6″
  • E8 Plate, Salad, 7″
  • E9 Plate, Luncheon, 9″
  • E? Plate, Dinner, 10″
  • E? Plate, Chop, 12″
  • E29 Carafe
  • E45 Tumblers
  • E47 Pitcher, 1-pint
  • E48 Pitcher, 1-quart
  • E? Bowl, Serving, 9″ (footed)
  • E? Platter, Oval, 12″
  • E? Salt & Pepper Shakers
  • E? Butter with Lid
  • E? Teapot
  • E2 Sugar with Lid
  • E3 Creamer
Pacific Pottery Arcadia Colors
Pacific Pottery Arcadia Colors
Pacific Pottery Arcadia In-Mold Mark "E"
Pacific Pottery Arcadia In-Mold Mark "E"
Pacific Pottery Arcadia Backstamp
Pacific Pottery Arcadia Backstamp
DURA-RIM
Pacific Pottery Dura-Tone Ad - March 1941

By early 1940, Pacific Pottery added a new line called “Dura-Rim” based off of the Arcadia shape. Dura-Rim, as you can assume from the name, features a thicker edge (apparently the thinner Arcadia line was prone to chipping). Another feature of Dura-Rim is the embossed Lily of the Valley on the pieces. Dura-Rim can be found in six matte glazes (yellow, ivory, green, delph, peach, white). Dura-Rim features the Pacific backstamp used on later pieces (1940+) and is not typically in-mold marked.

Pacific also produced Dura-Rim in a two-tone pattern called Dura-Tone. The two tone combinations includes pink, blue, green and yellow borders with a satin white center as well as a blue border with rose colored center.

Both Dura-Rim and Dura-Tone are both extremely hard to find and are not popular with collectors.

Pacific Pottery Dura-Tone Place Setting

Pacific Pottery Hostessware

Pacific Pottery Hostessware Cups and Mugs

Pacific Pottery Hostessware launched in 1932 as a way for Pacific Clay to stop the bleeding from their commercial pipe, brick and tile business during the Depression. Seeing the success their neighbor, Bauer Pottery, was having with colored dinnerware lines, Pacific was the second of the “Big 5” potteries to get into the market.

During the ten years that Hostessware was produced, it became the largest dinnerware line of any pottery, with close to 200 different pieces! While the distinctive ring pattern is derivative of Bauer’s ringware line, Pacific made the style their own and the two lines differ dramatically in look and feel. The breadth of the line is pretty amazing – ranging from an extensive amount of individual pieces to serveware, hostessware, kitchenware and bakeware.

If you’re looking for Hostessware, you’ll need patience. Pacific primarily distributed the line in southern California, although they expanded in the mid- to late-1930s to larger markets like Chicago. However, the vast majority of Pacific is still found in California. Serving pieces are more common than individual place settings – it’s extremely difficult to put together a set and bowls in particular are rare. During the Depression, when these lines were sold, housewives generally had a set of dishes in place, so tended to supplement their existing sets with new serving pieces.

Hostessware or Hostess Ware? Well, it shows up in Pacific advertising as both, but is more commonly spelled “Hostess Ware” by the company. Either is correct.

 

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware Coffee Pot

I’ve been working on some stylized representation of dinnerware – specifically looking to recreate an airbrush style in my quest to create some faux vintage Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware advertising.  I ended up using gradients in Illustrator to produce that effect. I considered using gradient mesh, but it’s a lot more work, and these pieces didn’t seem to need it!

To start the process, I placed images of dinnerware on the artboard and drew around the shapes. Instead of trying to do the whole shape at once, I did half of the body and then reflected the image so that there were two even halves. I got much better curves when creating separate paths for the handles and spouts – it also really helped when applying different gradients as it helped the elements of the piece stand out.

The thing to watch out for is making sure the perspective on the piece is similar from the original source image. The individual demi pot seems to be more of a straight-on shot, while the tea and coffee pot were shot at a very slight down angle. This could be fixed on the demi pot by deepening the curves of the lid, rings and base.

The letters were redrawn off of an original Pacific advertising piece.

Pacific Pottery Guide Mystery!

pacific-pottery-buyers-guideSomewhat of a mystery…every once and awhile, I troll back through years of historical online auctions just to see what other Pacific pieces have surfaced over the years. The other day I came across a couple of Pacific Pottery buyer’s guides from the 1930s. The cover photo was posted along with a couple of teaser pages. Based on the pages that I saw, they contain a wealth of information – including many of the pattern names for the decorated ware. The auction took place in 2011.

I did hear from another collector that someone who worked at the factory (and has since passed) loaned out all of their guides and documentation to another collector. That collector took the guides and republished them, and the original owner found out and sued. I’m wondering if these guides are from that collection. Either way it’s a shame, since without these we are just stabbing around in the dark trying to piece the history of the line together.

UPDATE: I did discover the lawsuit – Lattie v Murdach c-96-2524 – filed in January 1997 and was able to find some information on it. The plaintiff, James Lattie (son of Melvin Lattie, Pacific’s sales manager during the 1930s) sued Naomi Murdach, legendary San Francisco pottery dealer (whose real name was Clarence Tutt) for copyright infringement. In the lawsuit, apparently Naomi borrowed Pacific Pottery promotional materials from James, copied them, and produced his own booklets. It was in fact the guide listed here. I have been unable to get a full copy of the verdict (James won), but I will keep looking for it. James Lattie passed away in 2014, and these materials have not surfaced in any other format.

I also uncovered an article in the Fresno Bee from July 13, 1933 about an upcoming exhibit of Pacific Pottery in Fresno (I believe the family had a connection there). The article credits Melvin Lattie as the “originator and designer of Pacific Pottery.” According to the Lattie family, Melvin was the sales manager (his name does not appear in any of the Pacific annual reports):

Through the courtesy of the Pacific Clay Products Company, makers of the famous Pacific Pottery we will have a special showing of Lawn, Garden, Porch and Floor pieces, as well as a complete display of Table and Patio ware, art ware and kitchen ware. During the exhibition Mr. Melvin James Lattie originator and designer of “Pacific Pottery,” will be in attendance and shall be very happy to lend assistance to anyone in making their selection of the pottery that has literally taken “Fresno by Storm.”

I took the original cover image and recreated in Adobe Illustrator, which is the image shown here.

 

Pacific Pottery Lines

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware Cups and Mugs
DINNERWARE LINES
Pacific Hostessware Block

Hostessware

1932-42

Seeing the success that their Lincoln Heights neighbor, JA Bauer & Sons, was having with their California Colored Pottery dinnerware, Pacific Clay Products’ pottery department rolled out their new dinnerware line, called Hostessware, in 1932. By the end of its ten year run in 1942, Hostessware boasted eight different colors and an end-to-end line of more than 200 different pieces, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive dinnerware sets every produced.

Pacific Decorated Block

Decorated Hostessware

1934-37

In late 1934, Pacific introduced their “decorated” lines – a series of glazed patterns on the Hostessware shape. More than 100 patterns have been documented, but the designers remain anonymous. Decorated-ware often has a painted notation on the bottom indicating a company pattern ID. However, collectors will often find many one-of-a-kind items outside of the standard patterns. Decorated Hostessware is highly desirable and commands a price premium.

Pacific Pottery Coralitos

Coralitos

1937-40

By late 1937 in response to consumer demand and changing tastes, Pacific freshened their dinnerware lines by adding Coralitos. Coralitos came in six new solid colors: Cielito Blue, Coral, DuBonnet, Verdugo Green, Mission Ivory and Dorado Yellow.

Pacific Arcadia Block

Arcadia

1937-40

Reflecting changing tastes for lighter ware and softer color palettes, Pacific joined the pastel bandwagon around the same time with their Arcadia line. Coralitos and Arcadia are both hard to find (not all pieces were marked) and are not very desirable amongst collectors.

Hand Painted Lines

1940-41

In the early 1940s, Pacific continued production of Hostessware, Coralitos and Arcadia, and began adding in some complementary patterns. The Dura-Rim line borrowed from Arcadia and featured an embossed forget-me-not flower pattern. Spurred by the success of Gladding-McBean’s new Desert Rose dinnereware line, Pacific launched a series of hand-painted patterns, including California Grape, Hibiscus, Strawberry and Tiger Lily among a few. With Pacific winding down their pottery operations during this time, very little of these patterns were produced. These lines are not popular with collectors today.

Pacific Tiger Lily
Tiger Lily
Pacific Gardenia
Gardenia
Pacific Pottery Grape
Grape
Pacific Pottery Strawberry
Strawberry
Pacific Hand Painted Backstamp
"Hand Painted" Backstamp
ARTWARE

Until they shut down production in 1941, Pacific’s artware division turned out a retinue of vases, figurines, and other decorative table and floralware pieces.

ARTWARE

Pacific Pottery Advertising

Pacific Pottery Advertising

WHAT ADVERTISING TELLS US

Bullocks LA
The former Bullock's Department Store - Los Angeles

Pacific Clay primarily sold Hostessware through large full-service department stores and specialty shops in Southern and Central California, although their distribution network extended into other western states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona). While there was a nationwide distribution push in the mid-1930s, I haven’t seen any newspaper display advertising further east than Chicago. That said, there was a national advertising campaign in Better Homes & Gardens in the mid-1930s, and Life magazine published an ad in 1938 with national distribution outlets for Coralitos. All the locations are either better name department or specialty stores.

The two largest sellers of Pacific Pottery dinnerware lines were in downtown Los Angeles’s department store row. Both Bullock’s Department Store at Broadway & 7th had a huge pottery department and Parmelee-Dohrmann at 436-444 S. Broadway (practically across the street from each other) was a specialty china shop. In fact, Parmelee billed themselves as “the largest china and arts goods store on the Pacific Coast.”

When you see pottery advertising from the 1930s, the copywriters and designers often substituted in different dinnerware lines or created their own generic pottery pieces to use in the piece. Also, copywriters would also create their own names for the colors – so what you might see in an ad would not be the official company name (for example, “jade green” vs. “silver green” and “powder blue” vs. “delph blue”).

Since there are no company records available, display advertising and company catalogs give us indicators on geographic distribution, timelines and availability of colors, and pricing. For example, we don’t see Aqua and Apricot glazes showing up in advertising until around 1936. Around 1937-38, coinciding with the launch of the Arcadia and Coralitos dinnerware lines, most Hostessware advertising is for “irregulars” and factory closeout pieces. While Hostessware was produced through at least 1940, production was likely extremely limited. With changing consumer tastes, most manufacturers had moved away from “bright” color dinnerware production, and by 1941, many of the industrial materials used in the glazes were no longer available due to wartime needs.

The first Hostessware advertising piece comes from Fresno, California in 1933. We’re also able to date the launch of Decorated Hostessware in 1934 from a gift shop display ad in Covina, California.

Pacific Pottery Magazine Advertising

California Pottery Colorware

California Pottery Colorware Banner

Through the 1920s, European porcelain and china dominated tables in the United States. But the years following World War I brought a trend in more casual dining. Fewer people, if any, had servants required for formal dinner services, and prohibition brought an end to some of the fancier (and liquor-rich) French food popular in the late teens. Increased commercial food manufacturing reduced the amount of time women spent cooking in the kitchen. Life in general was becoming more casual and automated. The automobile, cinema and radio were bringing disparate groups of people closer across the nation.

California Pottery

Most of the major Southern California potteries were busy producing commercial and residential tile, earthworks and sanitary ware to support the building boom of the 1920s. With the collapse of the California real estate market in the late 1920s, the potteries turned to dinner and gardenware to supplement their revenues. Of the original “big five” Southern California potteries – Gladding-McBean (Franciscan), Metlox, Vernon Kilns, Pacific Pottery, and JA Bauer and Sons, and the mid-coast Garden City Pottery of San Jose – only Vernon Kilns had experience manufacturing dinnerware (under an earlier incarnation of the company known as Poxon China).

The popular West coast design of styles of day (Mission, Spanish Colonial Revival, California Bungalow, Art Deco and Asian-influenced themes) carried over into their houseware designs. In another uniquely Californian twist, brightly colored glazes were introduced to enhance the simple geometric and decorative patterns. Bright colors and glazes were being used in art deco pottery design in Europe during the same period, but primarily as a decorative element. While East coast manufacturers such as Fulper/Stangl pioneered some solid-color dinnerware patterns in the late 1920s, California potteries are attributed with making the glazes commercially viable. Ceramic engineers discovered an optimal clay body that could easily bond with the solid-color glazes in a way that made them as vitreous (stain resistant glass-like ceramic finish) and craze-resistant as traditional china.

While many California potteries began producing early colorware in the late 1920s, JA Bauer is attributed with the first large-scale commercial production of their colored plainware lines in 1927. By 1930 Brayton-Laguna and Catalina Island Pottery were in production, and by 1932-35 Pacific Pottery, Metlox, Gladding-McBean, and Vernon Kilns all offered popular colorware lines. Ohio Valley potteries quickly followed, with Homer Laughlin’s wildly popular Fiesta line going into full production by 1936. Laughlin’s vast production and distribution capabilities brought colorware to every corner of the United States. While several of the California potteries had national distribution at higher-end department stores, Homer Laughlin dominated more “economically friendly” chains, like Woolworth’s.

You might find advertisements for California pottery colorware in national magazines, like House Beautiful, American Home and Good Housekeeping, but most of the local advertising was limited to the west coast. (For example, a national search of local newspapers during the 1930s only turns up advertising for Pacific Pottery as far east as Kansas, with the majority of advertising in California, Oregon and Washington.) The modern day collector won’t find much California pottery colorware today outside of the west coast.

Glazes

Once the bisque firing and decorating is complete, the pottery is ready for the next glazing process. The color you end up with is a product of three primary factors: the glaze composition (colorants and materials); the kiln temperature – colorants can be volatile or produce different colors at different temperatures; and the kiln’s atmosphere during firing and cooling (i.e. the amount of oxygen, known as oxidation or reduction, in the kiln during the firing process).

Many of the bold, beautiful colors we love in our 1930s dinnerware were created using highly toxic materials. Cadmium, selenium, uranium and lead (used to make glazes smooth and shiny) were all common components in glazes. In the late 19th century, ceramicists and glassmakers began using uranium oxide as a coloring agent. Depending on the composition of the glaze and firing conditions, uranium could produce a wide range of colors, including ivory, red-orange, green, brown and black.

Radioactive Red

Radioactive Red Glazes

“Radioactive Red” Glazes from the 1930s: (L-R: Vernon Kilns Early California, Haldeman Caliente, Vernon Kilns Early California, Metlox 200 Series, Stangl 2000 Americana, and Red Wing Gypsy Trail)

Brilliant orange-red appeared in pottery and dinnerware in the early 1930s as ceramic engineers experimented with new glaze techniques. Catalina Pottery’s Toyon Red (named after a red berry that grows on the island) shows up by the late 1920s. By the early 1930s, Bauer and Pacific Pottery are using it in dinnerware items, with the other California and east coast potteries following closely behind.

Producing the glaze was more expensive for manufacturers due to higher material and production costs. The color required a greater level of control during the firing process and achieving the red-orange color often took additional coats of glaze. Red-glazed items commanded a price premium over other colors. Price lists from the period show red items priced 10-15% higher.

In 1943, the US government suspended commercial use of uranium oxide for use in the war effort for bomb production. The government allowed manufacturers to use it again in 1959, but by that time, the only pottery primarily producing solid color dinnerware was Homer Laughlin. Don’t worry, radioactive red dinnerware won’t harm you.

Lead

Potters commonly used lead as a bonding or pigmentation agent. With use, the lead can leach out of the glaze into foods (especially those with a high acidic content) and then be ingested. Lead glazes were pretty common in the United States up through the 1970s. Imported wares (from China and Mexico in particular) often still contain lead. That said, there’s no reason to not use your vintage colorware if it’s in good condition. Avoid pieces with cracks or ones that are heavily marked from use.

The 1930s Color Palette

Colorware Panel - Brights

Colorware Panel – Brights

The 1930s was characterized by two distinct color themes in dinnerware. The first wave dominated from around 1930 to 1938 and is characterized by bright and bold colors. Each manufacturer selected a palette of colors for their dinnerware lines, and where possible, colors that could distinguish themselves from their competitors. However, almost all of the colors fall into the list shown to the left.

Interestingly, some colors are more common than others in different dinnerware lines. For example, red and yellow are the most commonly found colors of Pacific’s Hostess Ware and Bauer’s ringware lines. Burgundy was a Bauer specialty (although it is a harder to find color) and the rose pink uniquely belonged to Metlox. Of all the manufacturers, Gladding-McBean (GMcB) – with their Franciscan lines – was the most innovative – they were the first to produce an actual high gloss red glaze, and included colors such as “eggplant,” “golden glow” and “redwood” in their El Patio lineup.

White and black were most often special order colors and not commonly available in retail outlets. Some potteries specifically produced their lines in white only during the June wedding season. White is available in Pacific Pottery Hostessware and Vernon Kilns Early California (very rare) and Ultra California (uncommon). Black is available in Pacific Pottery Hostessware (extremely rare) and Bauer (available, but commands a price premium over other colors).

But no design style lasts forever. Changing consumer tastes in the late 1930s lead to a softening of the dinnerware color palette. Additionally, the government began to appropriate the heavy metals used to make colorware glazes vibrant, leaving ceramic engineers scrambling to find new glaze combinations that would still be effective and appealing to consumers. While many potteries continued to offer their “brights,” pastel colors became all the rage. In fact, many bright dinnerware lines were just reglazed in pastels and given a new name. Popular pastel California dinnerware lines (1938-42) include:

Colorware Panel - Pastels

Colorware Panel – Pastels

Metlox Yorkshire, 200 SeriesVernon Kilns Modern California, Ultra California; Bauer La Linda; Pacific Pottery Arcadia; GMcB Franciscan Coronado

The trend was not specific to California potteries. Other manufacturers including Homer Laughlin (Serenade, Nautilus) and Taylor, Smith & Taylor (Lu-Ray) among others followed the pastel bandwagon. However, with most manufacturing companies — potteries included — switching over to war production around 1942, almost all the pastel lines are discontinued.

The War Years

As the United States goes to war, potteries turned over the majority of their production to the war effort. Potteries produced any number of goods to support the US – from dinnerware for Navy, sanitary ware, pipe and tile, ceramic insulators, etc. In fact, all manufacturing companies had to produce goods for the war effort in some way – if not, they were not allowed to make capital improvements in their infrastructure, leaving them unable to invest in new equipment. Pacific Clay Products used the opportunity to get back into much more profitable industrial production for the government, and completely shut down their pottery operations in 1942. Manpower at the plants was also in short supply, with their skilled employees sent off to war.

The dinnerware industry undergoes an interesting shift during this period. GMcB’s Franciscan division introduces a new hand-painted pattern called “Desert Rose,” and for a period throughout most of the 1940s, hand-painted dinnerware lines are popular with consumers. The design shift represents a desire on consumers’ part to return to a simpler, more homespun state of mind in response to the war.

Pacific Pottery

PACIFIC CLAY PRODUCTS | HISTORY

Pacific Clay Products formed as the result of a series of mergers of several Southern California commercial pipe and tile companies in the late 1800s, the earliest founded in 1886. By 1910 additional merger activity resulted in an entity called Pacific Sewer Pipe Company. The company changed their name to Pacific Clay Products Company in 1921. In 1923, a new holding company, The Pacific Clay Products, Inc., led by Los Angeles industrialist William Lacy, was formed, and in 1926 the company went public.

At the time of the stock offering, Pacific’s product lineup consisted of vitrified sewer pipe, electric conduit tile, water pipe, face enamel brick, firebrick, terra cotta, flue lining, stoneware, and drain tile to support the Southern California building boom of the 1920s. When the housing market collapsed in the late 1920s, Pacific reported a considerable slowdown in industrial production. Looking to diversify, they began producing stoneware specialty ware to supplement their architectural business. Early offerings included an assortment of kitchen and servingware in addition to some gardenware pieces. Servingware lines included an assortment of bowls, pitchers, mugs, and other household items.

Pacific Clay Products 1935
THE DEPRESSION YEARS

By 1930, many of Pacific’s plants operated far below capacity. During this time, Pacific retooled their Lincoln Heights plant (located at 306 West Avenue 26, Los Angeles) to focus on architectural terracotta and garden pottery production. With the economy in freefall, Pacific manufactured only intermittently by 1931. The board of directors intended to keep the plants in operation as much as they could, “chiefly as a contribution to the efforts begin made to cope with the local unemployment situation.” Throughout the Depression, Pacific made continuous investments in research and development, looking for new and better products as well as improvements in automation and efficiency. While commercial pottery and tile production continued to decline, consumer line production increased as a result of increased demand. They introduced a new artware line in 1931.

Hostessware

Even with diversification, business declined dramatically, with the plants operating at 12% of capacity by 1932. William Lacy, suffering from a nervous breakdown “induced in part of despondency over business conditions and the plight of the unemployed,” committed suicide at age 67 in April of that year. Family members reported that he had been ill for more than a month and “had been depressed as a result of the constant association with unemployed men whom he sought to help.” The directors of the company elected John D. Fredericks, former Congressman and vice-president of the company, to fill the vacancy. Pacific continued to ramp up their consumer pottery production with the launch of the Hostessware dinnerware line. They also significantly expanded their artware lines. By 1934, the new lines performed well enough that Pacific could make capital improvements in their plants to keep up with demand.

For the first time in five years, Pacific turned a profit in 1935. The company started to see more work coming in through increased industrial activity and government projects. With the company taking on more government work in support of the war effort, they disbanded the pottery division 1942. Longer term, this turned out to be a smart move. Unlike most of their competitors of the period, Pacific Clay Products still exists today.

INFORMAL!
QwkDog Pacific Informal

Informal!

Color for Your Table

A Completist’s Guide to Pacific Pottery Hostessware

Want to learn more about Pacific Pottery? Informal is a complete as-we-know it guide to Pacific Pottery and their iconic Hostessware dinnerware line. Meticulously researched and compiled by one of the top Pacific collectors, Informal is an illustrated guide to all of the known Hostessware pieces — including decorated lines — with visuals, designs, and photographs.

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