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 Lattie's Briefcase

Melvin J. Lattie

Melvin J. Lattie was Pacific Clay’s sales director in the 1930s. His son, Jim Lattie, later became a Pacific Pottery collector. As part of a set purchased from Jim Lattie’s estate in 2016, I was able to pick up Melvin’s black leather briefcase from the 30s – now a prized possession in my Pacific collection. Shown next to a photo of Jim Lattie from the late 1930s – parked on a Pacific Pottery vase.

Pacific Pottery Lattie's Briefcase

Pacific Pottery Hostessware Glaze Colors

Hostessware Glaze Colors | 1932-42

Pacific Pottery Hostess Ware Colors
Based on company records, between 1932-34, the available Hostessware glaze colors are listed as: Canary Yellow, Cactus Green, Desert Brown, Silver Green, Apache Red, Royal Blue, Sapphire Blue, White, Black, Gun Metal, and Forest Green. Certainly several of these colors were only available on art or gardenware. Black was a custom-order glaze. To date, I’ve only spotted it on a handful of pieces. Given the rarity of Desert Sand, it was likely custom-order as well. The initial Hostessware lineup included:

  • Apache Red
  • Canary Yellow
  • Silver Green
  • Pacific Blue (cobalt)
  • Desert Brown (or Desert Sand)
  • White

A common mistake is to mix up Desert Sand with Apricot. Desert Sand is extremely rare – the matte glaze is tan with brown speckles and has only been found on a handful of early Hostessware pieces, including the tumbler below and a demitasse cup/saucer.

Pacific Hostessware Desert Sand

Pacific #419 ball tumbler in Desert Sand glaze

Here’s an example of early Apricot, later Apricot and Apache Red. Note the difference in ring sizes on these luncheon plates from the early to later glazes. Part of the confusion between Desert Sand and Apricot is that there are two versions of the Apricot glaze, the earlier version is darker, and the later features a much more glossy pink-orange glaze. This confusion has been exacerbated by a misreference in the Snyder Pacific Pottery book.

Pacific Hostessware Apricot & Apache Glazes

Pacific Hostessware Apricot (early & later) & Apache Glazes

It should also be noted that there was an early glaze known to collectors as “lavender” (a light pink-purple color) that has shown up on very early transition pieces.

Glaze Colors & Availability

Pacific Hostessware Glaze Colors

By 1935, six colors are consistently shown in display advertising:

  • Apache Red
  • Lemon Yellow (Canary Yellow)
  • Jade Green (Silver Green)
  • Powder Blue (Delph Blue)
  • Pacific Blue
  • Sierra White

It’s unclear when Aqua is added – probably sometime in 1936, since I’ve seen early in-mold marks. Apricot followed after that. Aqua and Apricot are harder to find colors, so perhaps they were (1) limited production, (2) not as popular or (3) Pacific had slowed down pottery production in the late 1930s and there’s just less of it out there. At some point in the mid-to-late 1930s, the glazes change: Later Hostess Ware has a less “rustic” look with glossier glazes less prone to crazing. White changes from glossy to vellum. Additionally, unless you see them close up, there are a couple of colors that can be a little challenging to identify – especially if you’re looking at online photos in shot in poor lighting conditions (especially silver green and aqua, and sometimes apache and apricot).

In 2016, I conducted a 8-year historical search of all online Pacific Hostessware sales via Worthpoint (from 2007-2015), and reviewed three extensive collections to determine the general availability of the Hostessware glaze colors. As expected, red, green, yellow and Pacific blue – all produced for the full duration of Hostessware production are most common, with red dominating. In fact, red represents 30% of all known pieces in this sample. Green came in at 19%, yellow at 15%, Pacific blue at 12%, Delph blue at 9%, apricot at 7%, and white and aqua finished out at 4% each.

Experimenting? Hostessware Meets Coralitos

Maybe for fun or test production runs, the odd piece of Hostessware will show up in a Coralitos glaze. This #612 Hostessware chop plate has been glazed in Dubonnet. Punch bowls have been seen in the Verdugo green color and as well as lavender. Coasters have been spotted in baby pink and oatmeal glazes.
Pacific Pottery Hostessware Dubonnet

Pacific Pottery Hostessware Delph

Pacific Pottery Hostessware Set in Delph Blue

Here’s a set of Pacific Pottery Hostessware in the hard-to-find delph glaze. I purchased this set from another collector in Santa Paula, California this summer. This was likely a “wedding set” – complete set for 8+ with an assortment of serving pieces in near mint condition – looks barely used. I added the tab-handled target platter, which I purchased from an antique store in Pasadena on the same day (I knew it had been sitting in the store for months, so I figured I’d pick it up to go with the set while I was there). Delph is the fifth hardest to find color in Hostessware and complete place settings are extremely difficult to put together, so this was a great find!

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 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