The vibrant period in the 1930s for ceramic engineering and design would not have been possible with out the effort and talent of some of the following people. Unfortunately, with so many names lost over the years, we can’t credit all of the talented employees and visionaries, but here is a list of some of the more well known names.
John Andrew (Andy) Bauer established J.A. Bauer Pottery in Paducah, Kentucky in 1885, an area rich in natural clay deposits. The pottery produced a variety of stoneware, whiskey jugs, kitchenware and sanitary-ware (washbasins, toilets, etc.). A sufferer of asthma, he spent his winters in southern California, and like many people who couldn’t resist the siren’s call of the west, moved his company to Los Angeles in 1909. Bauer ran the company until 1922, when he retired. He passed away less than a year later.
Watson Bockmon was J.A. Bauer’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Eva. When Bauer passed away in 1923, Bockmon took the reins at Bauer in a partnership with Sam and Lynn Bernheim. Bockmon left the company in 1928 due to differences in management styles, but returned to the firm in 1930, buying out the Bernheims. Watson ran the firm until May 1939, when he unexpectedly passed away.
His obituary from May 24, 1939 reads:
Christian Science funeral services will be conducted at 1:30pm today for Watson E. Bockmon, 53, president of the Bauer Pottery Co., who died Sunday night in Wilshire Hospital following a heart attack a week earlier. T.M. De Forest, Christian Science reader, will officiate at the services in the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, under direction of Pierce Bros.’ Mortuary. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. A native of Double Springs, Tenn., Mr. Bockmon came to Los Angeles 30 years ago. he was a member of the Al Malaikah Temple of the Shrine, of the Masonic order and of the Los Angeles Rotary Club, of which his father-in-law, J.A. Bauer was founder. He leaves his widow, Mrs. Eva Bauer Bockmon, of 1369 Parkview Ave., Pasadena; a daughter, Mrs. Virginia E. Brutsche, and a granddaughter, Claudette Brutsche. (Source: Los Angeles Times, 24 May 1939)
Matterson (Matt) Carlton moved to Los Angeles in 1915 and spent some time at Pacific Clay Products before coming to Bauer. Carlton was a “turner.” A turner’s job is to shape green (unfired) clayware, using a lathe; positions clayware on lathe, starting the machine, and guiding the edge of a handtool against revolving ware until clay object is trimmed to specified shape and size. The turner may also verify accuracy of shape and dimensions of object, using calipers and templates. At Bauer, Matt put these skills to use in the production of hand-thrown vases, most notably the Rebekah vase.
In 1929, the Bernheim brothers hired Victor Houser, a ceramics engineer. Victor had been experimenting with bright opaque colored glazes, and one of his first actions at Bauer was to test these glazes on the pottery.
Around 1912, Bauer brought Louis Ipsen on board as a designer and mold-maker. Ipsen had worked at two Midwestern pottery companies prior to joining Bauer. Ipsen is believed to have been responsible for modeling some of the early ornate gardenware produced during that period.