Pacific Clay Products - Plant #4 Company Photo - 1935

Pacific Pottery Employee Photo 1935

California pottery Jedi and artist Jack Chipman sent me a photo yesterday from Pacific Clay Products’ company photo from plant #4 – the Lincoln Heights (east LA) facility where Hostess Ware and other art and garden pottery was produced. I took the image, fixed some of the ravages of time (creases and folds), and lightly colorized the people to help them stand out (the original image was very white-washed).

Something that collectors tend to forget – especially as we romanticize these pottery companies – is that even the “big” companies didn’t employ a lot of people. I discovered this when doing some rigorous searches through the Los Angeles Times newspaper archives from the period – I expected to find tons of articles about the vibrant Southern California pottery industry, but actually turned up very little. Almost all of the companies (Pacific excepted) were privately held, and employed on average less than 200 people. So while the area was a hotbed for pottery production, the total number of workers employed relative to the overall population was pretty low. For comparison, industry giant Homer Laughlin employed roughly 800-1000 people in their good years – which speaks to why Fiesta is easy to find and other potteries’ lines not as much.

The Pacific photo has around 100 employees. Also of note, compared to other pottery company employee photographs from the period, it’s nice to see some workforce diversity in this photo: There are 15 women, 2 African Americans and several Latino employees. Even the annual reports from the period don’t provide any detail on the volume of Pacific Pottery produced during the 1930s, but given the relative lack of available pottery today, their production numbers were low in comparison to their local competitors: Bauer, Vernon Kilns, and Gladding-McBean in particular (Metlox didn’t really ramp up production until the 1940s). Again, it’s important to keep in mind that Pacific’s primary business during this period was still commercial pipe and tile. Bauer, Vernon and Metlox were all dedicated to consumer production.

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 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 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

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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