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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bauer Pottery: A colorful piece of the Eastside’s historic potteries

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By Nicole Possert

Batchelder. Franciscan. Bauer. These  names are reminders that the Eastside holds a rich (and still living) history of the art of pottery. While most of the area’s pottery factories closed long ago, the new Bauer Pottery revitalized the famous trademark and in the early 2000s opened a showroom on Rosslyn Street in Glassell Park.  This is only about three miles north from where the original J.A. Bauer Company produced pottery and ceramics from 1910 to 1962 on West Avenue 33 in Lincoln Heights and close to other historic potteries.

This weekend’s Bauer Pottery Holiday Sale gives the opportunity to keep this pottery tradition alive and take a peek at why the Bauer name is so valued and intertwined with the history of Los Angeles.

“The J.A. Bauer Company (1885-1962), known for its simple, colorful tableware, has become one of the most sought and valued lines of American pottery, says The description for the book “Collector’s Encyclopedia of Bauer Pottery – Identification & Values” by  Jack Chipman (The book is a very handy reference guide for potter collectors with vintage catalogs, brochures and archival photos of the old Bauer factory.)   “Bauer pioneered the concept of solid color, mix-and-match dinnerware with their most popular lines of ring, plain ware, and Monterey Modern.”

More than 30 years after the original Bauer Potter closed its doors, the story picks up in 1998  when collector Janek Boniecki revitalized the trademark as Bauer Pottery and began reproducing popular pieces from the ringware line of the 1920s and ‘30s. Janek at first contracted with third-party manufactures to have the pottery made, but today, with the purchase of the factory of California Design Works, the company does all the production.  Janek states, “The location, literally the backside of Forest Lawn Cemetery, chose us. It took us a few years to realize that the founder, J.A. Bauer, is buried at this cemetery, and we literally see his headstone from here.” How’s that for history being part of your contemporary life?

Batchelder

Bauer was one of many national art pottery and ceramics institutions that burgeoned, thrived and innovated the art and craft in the Eastside of Los Angeles in the early- to mid-1900s.  Arts & Crafts Movement enthusiasts are very familiar with Ernest Batchelder. He designed craft tile in a shop built behind his Pasadena home in the Arroyo Seco but quickly met demand for his tiles with a production facility on Broadway in Los Angeles.  By 1920 the company moved to larger quarters in Lincoln Heights at 2633 Artesian Street where Batchelder Tiles and products were made until 1949.

Franciscan

Historic Eastside Potteries

Meanwhile, in Atwater Village, The Franciscan pottery, part of Gladding McBean, produced dinnerware and tile until 1984 at 2901 Los Feliz Blvd. (today the site of CostCo complex).

Claycraft

Most people recognize these notable names but other significant work by Claycraft Potteries, FHR Fred Robertson Los Angeles and Los Angeles Pottery Company were all producing work during this same heyday in locations just east of the L.A. River or near the Arroyo Seco tributary.

Historic Eastside Pottery Locations:

  • Bauer Pottery (2000 – present) 3051 Rosslyn Street, Glassell Park
  • J.A. Bauer Pottery Company (1910-62) 415 West Avenue 33, Lincoln Heights
  • Batchelder-Wilson Company (1920– 49) 2633 Artesian Street, Lincoln Heights
  • Franciscan Pottery (1934 – 84) 2901 Los Feliz Avenue, Atwater Village
  • Claycraft Potteries Co. (1921-39) 3101 San Fernando Road, Glassell Park
  • FHR Fred Robertson Los Angeles (1906-21) Los Angeles, specific address unknown
  • Los Angeles Pottery Company (1906-21) Griffin Avenue, Lincoln Heights*

Nicole Possert is a contributor writing about home and history. Questions or ideas? just email her at [email protected]

Photos courtesy Bauer Pottery

* Information received from Rob Takata at Bauer Pottery,  12/3/10





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3 comments

  1. You unleashed a flood of memories for my 95-year-old mother. In the late 1930s, she said all the young married couples of the time had Bauer pottery. She remembers specifically shopping at the Franciscan place on Los Feliz–she misremembered that as Bauer–and that there were a lot of very good antique stores along there also, where she said, “My mother got most of her silver dishes.” Like having silver dishes is routine. They lived in a big house in Los Feliz in the years before World War II.

  2. My grandfather and uncle worked at what is known as the Franciscan factory on Los Feliz, it was technically Gladdis-McBean, the other thing that they also made during WWII was some sort of housing made of ceramic that was needed as a part for bombs being dropped from planes. Franciscan dishes are also so great to look at. Well anyway just some more tid bits out there. Thanks for caring about your community Eastsider! Here is a link to a photo I found of their kiln, pretty cool. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gusstiffpottery/4996098007/

    Derek

    PS What is with the new logo with “Eastsider LA”?

  3. By accident just broke the last piece of my mom’s and dad’s original Franciscan plate’s. they received it as a wedding present in 1954. So many broken kid memories. Oh well…..

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