Colorware History & Design

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Vernon Kilns Early California

“The colors are truly thrilling!”

Vernon Kilns Early CaliforniaLaunched in 1934, Vernon Kilns Early California dinnerware is characterized by two concentric rings and a zigzag moderne angular design. By 1937, glazes included: yellow, turquoise, green, brown, dark blue, light blue, ivory, orange (red) and pink.  The company added maroon and white at some point, and the rarity of these colors makes them more desirable. By 1946, designers scaled back the available colors, producing pieces in blue, green, peach, turquoise and yellow. The line disappears from company price lists by 1950.

The Early California line is on the “Montecito” shape, believed to be the first shape produced by Vernon Kilns (post-Poxon China). Throughout the dinnerware line’s comparatively long run, it went through several design style changes. Earlier handled pieces, such as cups and beverage servers, have an angled handle. In the late 1930s, possibly with the launch of Modern California in 1938, the line is rounded out with softer shape. At this point the color palette in Early California shifts as well, the bright, bold colors are toned down, and the high gloss light yellow and pink colors become more prominent.

Vernon used the Montecito shape for dozens of different dinnerware lines until the company closed in 1958. Many lines, especially in the 1950s, often include a mix of pieces from Montecito, Ultra, and San Marino shapes. Montecito shapes were also adapted in the 1950s for the plaid and Brown Eyed Susan patterns.

Marshall Fields Vernon Kilns 1937In this May 1937 advertisement from the Chicago department store, Marshall Fields, Early California, Organdie, and Harry Bird‘s Tahiti line are available – Tahiti prices are more than double Early California.

Like many Vernon Kilns lines, Early California shares shapes with other dinnerware lines – in particular, the disk pitcher, tumblers and butter with Ultra California.

Vernon Kilns Early California

Vernon Kilns Montecito Piece List

As Vernon Kiln’s longest running shape, the number of pieces available across all the dinnerware lines was considerable. Pieces available in Early California are noted.

PieceDescriptionEarly California
Ashtray3" square, individualYes
Ashtray4.5" square, regular
Ashtray5.5" roundYes
Bowl5.5" fruit bowlYes
Bowl7.25" coupe soup bowlYes
Bowl6" cereal bowl
Bowl6" chowder bowl (angled handles)Yes
Bowl6" lug soup bowlYes
BowlLid, lug soup bowlYes
Bowl, serving7.5" round
Bowl, serving8.5" roundYes
Bowl, serving10" ovalYes
Bowl, serving10" oval, divided
Bowl, serving13" salad, roundYes
Bowl, serving15" salad, round
Bowl, mixing5" roundYes (San Marino Shape)
Bowl, mixing6" roundYes (San Marino Shape)
Bowl, mixing7" roundYes (San Marino Shape)
Bowl, mixing8" roundYes (San Marino Shape)
Bowl, mixing9" roundYes (San Marino Shape)
Buffet server3-partYes
Butter dishEarly (knob finial)Yes
Butter dishLater (rectangular - shared with Ultra)Yes (Ultra Shape)
CasseroleAngled handlesYes
CasseroleRound handlesYes
Coffee pot2-cup, ADYes
Coffee server / carafeRound, with lidYes
Coffee server / carafeAngled, with lidYes
Comport, footed9.5"Yes
Creamer, individualAngledYes
Sugar, individual, openAngledYes
CreamerRound (optional lid)Yes
SugarRound, with lidYes
Cup / saucer, demitasseRoundYes
Cup / saucer, demitasseAngledYes
Tea cup / saucerRoundYes
Tea cup / saucerAngledYes
Egg cupYes
Jam jar5", with lidYes
Muffin tray9", tab handled with lidYes
Pitcher, diskYes (Ultra shape)
Pitcher, 1-pintBulb baseYes
Pitcher, 1-quartBulb base
Pitcher, tankard, 1.5-quartAngledYes
Coaster / cup warmer4.5"Yes
Plate, bread & butter6.5"Yes
Plate, salad7.5"Yes
Plate, luncheon (small)8.5"Yes
Plate, luncheon (standard)9.5"Yes
Plate, dinner10.5"Yes
Plate, divided grill11"Yes
Plate, divided grill, tray13.5 x 10.5"Yes
Plate, chop, small12"Yes
Plate, chop, medium14"Yes
Plate, chop, large17"Yes
Plate, pickle9"Yes
Platter, oval, small10.5"Yes
Platter, oval, medium12"Yes
Platter, oval, large14"Yes
Platter, oval, extra large16"
Plate, relish, 3-part7 x 10"Yes
Gravy boatAngledYes
Gravy boatRound
Gravy boat, fast standRoundYes
Shakers, salt & pepperYes
Tumbler #14.5", banded rim and baseYes
Tumbler #24.5" rings, bulge topYes
Tumbler #3a3.75", bulb bottom, often found with bakelite/metal handleYes
Tumbler #45", flared top (Ultra)Yes (Ultra shape)
Tumbler #3b3.75" bulb bottom, pottery handleYes

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