To answer my title question, the answer is … there is no company named California Pottery. What?! Never was. Then why are there so many pieces marked California Pottery? Or Calif. U.S.A. or some variation of this name? No surprise here, the name basically tells us where the pottery was made. Now isn’t that helpful? No? Yeah, I get that.
Apparently, there were any number of potters in California during the early to mid part of the 20th century. Many of them marked their pottery California pottery.
Some of those companies you may or may not have heard of. McCoy and Bauer, California Originals, Metlox, Weil and a host of others. You can see an extensive list at Calpotteries.com.
So you have a piece that is marked California U.S.A. and you want to know which pottery house made it. It may actually be near to impossible to figure that out. There are a few things you can do to narrow down the maker of your piece, though. According to Cajunc there are a few ways to figure out where your piece originated.
The first way is to look for a name along with the California mark. If you had a name, however, that would be waaaaay too easy. You would not even need to read this post. However, in the event you are not given this very helpful information, you can keep reading.
The next thing you should look for is the clay.
Usually, on the bottom there are parts of unglazed clay. Whether they used firing pins in the kiln and there are 3 exposed dots of clay or there is a rim that is not glazed, that is where you would see the color of the clay. Red clay, pink clay, white, beige and sandy clay; they all come from different places.
After you figure out the color of the clay, you can look at the way the underside is glazed.
Some companies chose to leave an unglazed rim, others have bars across the bottom, still others completely covered the bottom in glaze. Again these all help to narrow down which company made your piece. You can also get information from the glazes used. Certain colors were unique to specific pottery companies; whether they used a drip glaze such as the Hull brown drip that is very popular and very identifiable or another technique.
Finally, there are miscellaneous identifiers such as the numbers and tools used that may have left marks behind.
The Cajunc website goes into much more detail and is a valuable resource in figuring out where your pottery originated.
This is such an interesting subject that has so many more layers. We have just scratched the surface as I have only given you a brief overview of how to begin finding information on a piece of pottery. The two websites mentioned in this post are great resources. Definitely sites that you should bookmark.
Good luck and leave me a note if this has helped you in any way. I hope you all have a great week and enjoy the upcoming holidays! If you are looking for more vintage treasures, stop by my shop and take a look around at Vintage Eve’s.