Colorware History & Design

The Maximalist

Pacific Pottery Advertising

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.

Bullocks LA

The former Bullock’s Department Store – Downtown Los Angeles at 7th & Broadway

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”).

What Advertising Tells Us

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.

In the examples below, our 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.

Hostessware Newspaper Display Advertising

Hostessware Magazine Advertising

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