Vernon Kilns Coronado

Between roughly 1936-39, Vernon Kilns produced a premium line based off of Early California called Coronado. Premium lines were sold through gas stations and grocery stores: For every purchase you made at the store, you would receive coupons for free or reduced price dinnerware items. Coronado was a short set – meaning that only select pieces were offered. Coronado originally came in five Early California colors, red, yellow, brown, green, and blue, and exclusively offered in light green, light blue, peach, and pink. Some of the pieces – cups, creamer, and sugar – were redesigned later in the line.

Known pieces include: 6.5″ dessert plate, 9.5″ luncheon plate, 5.5″ fruit bowl, 7.5″ soup bowl, 9″ serving bowl, tumblers, coffee carafe with lid, 12.5″ platter, salt & pepper shakers, sugar bowl, and creamer. They can be found with a marked with variety of backstamps or unmarked.

Harry Bird

Harry Bird for Vernon Kilns

The artist and potter William “Harry” Bird designed several bespoke patterns for Vernon Kilns in the mid- to late-1930s. Little is known about Bird – there are rumors that he rented space in Vernon’s plant; there is no indication that he was an employee of the company and may have produced his work under contract or self-distributed. All of Harry Bird’s designs were produced on Vernon’s “Montecito” shape (Early California and others). Bird may have been the first to leverage the in-glazing technique of decorating, also used by Pacific Pottery on their decorated ware starting around 1935.

Olinala- and Montezuma-Aztec Patterns

Vernon Kilns Harry Bird AztecAccording to this advertising piece, the actress Dolores Del Rio commissioned a set of dinnerware from Harry Bird and Vernon Kilns based on traditional Mexican pottery designs.  Vernon Kilns offered it to the public as Olinala-Aztec (with rings) and Montezuma-Aztec (no rings). The pottery was available in four colors: blue, green, yellow (orange), and rose on a light beige background. As with most of Harry Bird’s designs, these patterns are hard to come by.

Vernon Kilns Harry Bird Qwkdog

Olinala-Aztec Examples & Backstamp

Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec Vernon Kilns Olinala Aztec

Harry Bird Patterns

  • Aztec: Montezuma-Aztec, Olinala-Aztec
  • Banded Flower (BB, BP, BY and BG designated patterns; first letter is for Bird, second is for color, number indicates flower pattern)
  • Bird Series (Scarlet Tanager, Parrots, Blue Birds, Bird Ring)
  • Blooming Cactus
  • Duo-tone (unless noted, with matte glazes):
    • Beige (single color)
    • Bridal Satin (ivory color)
    • Pomegranate
    • Evening Star (blue and ivory)
    • Golden Maple (burnt orange and ivory)
    • Avocado (green and ivory)
    • After Glow (yellow and ivory)
    • Tangerine (orange-red and ivory)
  • Flower series
    • Begonia
    • Bird’s Eye
    • Cassia
    • Checker Bloom
    • Chinese Lantern
    • Columbine
    • Desert Mallow
    • Desert Poppy
    • Eucalyptus
    • Fiddleneck
    • Geranium
    • Golden Brodiaea
    • Guatomote
    • Incienso
    • Iris
    • Lady Slipper
    • Larkspur
    • Lily Blue
    • Lily Orange
    • Lion’s Tail
    • Lupin
    • Mariposa Tulip
    • Morning Glory
    • Nasturtium
    • Petunia
    • Phacelia
    • Trumpet Flower
    • Water Lily
    • Wild Pink
  • Nautical
    • Anchor, Flags, Lantern, Life Saver, Sextant, Square Knot, Wheel
  • Spectrum (geometric designs)
    • B-30X, Vert, Jaune, Multi-Flori California, Polychrome A-E
  • Tahiti A-C
  • Tropical Fish
    • Fantail

Vernon Kilns Ultra California

The design of Vernon Kilns Ultra California line is credited to Gale Turnbull, with Jane Bennison contributing the iconic upside-down handles. Vernon Kilns used the Ultra shape on many lines: It was the base shape for designs created by Rockwell Kent, Don Blanding, and Disney. The official name of the shape is unknown, but is commonly called Ultra since the Ultra California line was the first pattern to appear on the shape. While beautiful, many considered the design to be impractical, as the turned-down handles made the pieces hard to pick up.

Ultra California came in six colors: Buttercup (yellow), Gardenia (green), Carnation (pink), Aster (blue), white, and maroon. Maroon and white are uncommon. Rumor has it that Vernon Kilns only produced White in June for weddings, accounting for its scarcity. The line was produced from roughly 1938-42. Standard dinnerware pieces are easy to find, serving pieces (with the exception of the teapot, coffee pot and casserole) are rare.

The company brochure below (this is a piece recreated off of an original brochure) seems to be from early in the line. White and maroon aren’t listed as colors, and there are several pieces missing from the list.

Vernon Kilns Ultra California Brochure

Vernon Kilns Ultra Brochure (click to expand)

Vernon Kilns Ultra California Piece Guide

Bowl, individual, fruit5.5"
Bowl, individual, cereal6"
Bowl, individual, chowder6"
Chowder bowl lid
Bowl, individual, coupe soup8.25"
Bowl, serving, round8"
Bowl, serving, round9"
Bowl, serving, salad11"
Bowl, serving, 1-pint
Bowl, mixing5"
Bowl, mixing6"
Bowl, mixing7"
Bowl, mixing8"
Bowl, mixing9"
Butter tray with cover
Casserole, covered8"
Coffee pot, 2-cup, AD
Coffee pot, 6-cup
Comport, footed9"
Creamer, individual
Creamer, short
Creamer, tall
Sugar, individualopen
Sugar, shortwith lid
Sugar, tallwith lid
Cup / saucer, AD
Cup / saucer, teacup
Cup / saucer, jumbo
Egg cup
Jam jarwith lid
Muffin coverno base
Mug, handled3.5", 8 oz.
Plate, pickle, tab handle6"
Pitcher, 1-pint4.5", open
Lid, 1-pint pitcheroptional
Pitcher, 2-quartopen
Lid, 2-quart pitcheroptional
Pitcher, disk
Plate, bread and butter6.5"
Plate, salad7.5"
Plate, luncheon (small)8.5"
Plate, luncheon (regular)9.5"
Plate, dinner10.5"
Plate, chop (small)12"
Plate, chop (medium)14"
Plate, chop (large)16"
Sauce boat (gravy)
Shakers, salt and pepper
Teapot, 6-cup
Tureenette, covered7", notched lid

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

Vernon Kilns

Vernon Kilns Company Photo

Vernon Kilns began its existence as Poxon China, founded by George J.W. Poxon in 1912 in Vernon, California. In its early days, Poxon produced ceramic tile, shifting production to earthenware and restaurant-ware around World War I. They also produced a limited amount of artware and vases. After struggling through the Great Depression, Poxon was purchased by Faye G. Bennison in 1931 and renamed as Vernon Kilns. In 1933, an earthquake destroyed all of the existing Poxon stock. The damage to the plant’s beehive kilns and loss of stock prompted a complete redesign of the company’s dinnerware molds. The company reinvented itself under the direction of its art department, lead by designers Jane Bennison, May and Vieve Hamilton, and Harry Bird. In 1936, Gale Turnbull joined as their art director and revitalized their dinnerware lines. One of the first shapes released after the redesign was called Montecito, used in dinnerware lines through 1958, when the company closed their doors. Many of the Vernonware lines were able to live on at Metlox, who purchased the molds and trademarks. They continued to manufacture many Vernon patterns in their new Vernonware division.

Vernon Kilns Montecito

Vernon Kilns launched their first colorware line on the heels of some of their competitors. The first colored dinnerware line, Early California, was released around 1935 and is on the Montecito shape.  Montecito is believed to be Vernon Kiln’s first official dinnerware shape and was in production until the company closed.

Around 1937, a pastel satin-glazed version of Early California was released as Modern California (also on the Montecito shape) with redesigned round shapes in place of Early’s angled handles. Vernon phased out the angled pieces in Early California, replacing it with the rounded shapes from Modern California, possibly in the early 1940s. Early California also shared pieces with other dinnerware shapes, including Ultra California (butter dish, disk pitcher, tumblers) and Casual California (mixing bowls) (San Marino shape).

Vernon Kilns Modern California Teapot with Demitasse Cups/Saucers

Vernon Kilns Modern California Teapot with Demitasse Cups/Saucers

A “premium” variation of Early California came out in 1938-39 as Coronado. According to Nelson (2003), Coronado was available through gas stations in the eastern region of the United States, and as a supermarket premium in the west. Coronado shares the same basic Montecito shape, but have a slight ripple along the edge of the pieces. It can be found in a similar color palette as Early California with dark blue, orange, green, turquoise and yellow most commonly found. With its long production run and nationwide distribution, Early California is fairly easily found in the marketplace. It’s not as popular with collectors as some of its competitors, which keeps prices low.