This page will list all the pottery books and other related references that may be helpful for collectors of California Pottery. Most can be found on Amazon.com However, in some cases, these books may be currently out of print. (Some of them can be found second hand on Ebay or on Abebooks.com. If we own the book, we’ll try to give collectors an idea of what they might expect before buying the book.
This is a great book that any pottery collector should have in their library, even if you don’t really focus on pottery made in California. It features a great selection of the different potteries with marks, examples, pictures, values and some basic historical information. The back of the book also has a section that deals with smaller and lesser known California potteries - along with some pictures. While it would be nice to see that section expanded greatly, that’s one thing we’re attempting to do on this site. Still, it’s the best book for getting a general feel on what’s out there… after getting the book we were able to pick up many more pottery pieces that we wouldn’t have known about previously. - Read Reviews
This is a decent secondary reference for California Pottery - however, we would recommend you get Chipman’s Encyclopedia above first before purchasing this book. Some have complained that the book is not organized by company, but by approximate time period (30s-70s) along with theme / style (i.e. animals for a particular era are grouped). There is an index at the back that IS in alpha-order. (By the way: to save flipping back and forth, its a good idea to photocopy the index to make looking up companies faster).
We have actually found that the method of presentation is more helpful, interesting and allows for leisurely absorption - it’s presented like a scrapbook after all. It also contains a host of smaller and less well known companies that aren’t even talked about at all in the Encyclopedia, which has been extremely helpful. - Read Reviews
While this book is a general U.S. pottery reference rather than one focusing on California, it’s a great resource to have with almost 2000 different companies and 8000 marks. This is the go-to book to identify a pottery or porcelain mark. The bulk of the 600+ page book are the listings by company, which give some basic info and the marks. However, there’s an easy to search index which lists by name AND by the mark (helpful to try and identify unknown marks). The companies are also listed in various ways in the back of the book, including by locale. In particular, it’s nice to have a reference for U.S. pottery because many other books focus on English pottery. - Read Reviews
I feel this Metlox book is actually one of the best collector books for pottery, period. This is because of its depth of detailed information and its organization. This was the first pottery book I ever bought, even before Chipman’s. One warning is that there is a TON of information in here, and it may take awhile to get used to the way it is formatted. Instead of patterns listed in alpha order or by date, they are listed by “shape”.
For a beginner, this can be somewhat confusing - but after awhile, you realize this is one of the best ways to try and collect because you will start to recognize Metlox by shape rather than the color, pattern or backstamp. The book covers artware and dinnerware for both the Poppytrail and Vernon Divisions along with prices. - Read Reviews
This is the book to get if you collect Vernon Kilns. Maxine Nelson’s book contains the history of the pottery, detailed color photos, pattern identification and basic value guide.
I personally haven’t found this book as useful as some of the other pottery books we have, but that’s because we don’t really concentrate on Vernon. Also, a large potion of the book focuses on commemorative plates and things like Disney figures which we have no interest in. But I know there are folks who are REALLY into the commemorative Vernon stuff. Like the Metlox book, it can be a bit difficult to figure out how things are organized - but it’s still well worth getting if you’re interested in or sell California pottery - Read Reviews
Jack Chipman wrote one of the bibles on Bauer Pottery for collectors - unfortunately, as of writing it is out of print and a little pricey. However, it may be worth it as no other Bauer book currently comes close. There are tons of gorgeous photographs of Bauer items as well as the history of the pottery.
It is meant by the author to be as complete an identification guide as possible and also contains pricing on the various pieces. Keep in mind that the book was published in 1997 and therefore those prices should be taken more as an overall guideline rather than set in stone. I believe there was a reprint where the prices were updated around 2001 - Read Reviews
Although this book should not be looked on as a collector’s guide for Bauer, it still is very helpful when you’re first starting out collecting California Pottery. We have this book and although it is a little thin at 103 pages, it makes a great coffee table book and has even helped us with limited identification. Peter Brenner’s photos of Bauer items in the book are amazing, and the information about the pottery is very detailed and an interesting read.
The book is set up mostly as a pictorial guide of the history of the Bauer Pottery. They also highlight several different lines from the pottery and go into detail about glazes and production issues. Some of the lines and persons mentioned include Louis Ipsen, Matt Carlton, the Rebekah vases, Fred Johnson, Ray Murray, Brusche, and Russel Wright. The back of the book presents 10 different specialized Bauer pottery “collections”. Keep in mind there are is absolutely no pricing in the book. - Read Reviews
This is a wonderfully designed, well-written book on Heath Ceramics. It’s one of my favorite California pottery books because it’s beautifully laid out but has great information. It chronicles the history of Edith Heath’s company, describes the pottery making process, provides beautiful pictures and examples and includes a really nice section where they feature essays and anecdotes from employees, friends and members of the pottery community.
If I had only one complaint about the book, it’s that they don’t get into great detail about the older lines, and especially the names of all of the different glazes (especially those not produced any longer). To be fair, many Heath designs have not changed at all in 50 years. I would classify this more a coffee table book than a collector’s reference. - Read Reviews
It’s really unfortunate that this Howard Pierce reference is out of print - it can still be found in secondary places but is quite expensive currently. We were lucky enough to pick up a used copy online for a reasonable price. The book is very informative, covering Pierce’s life and work and gives photo examples and values (based on 1997 prices). While it’s impossible for Dommel to cover all shapes and glazes in only 144 pages, there is a lot of Howard Pierce pieces represented.
In addition, there are MANY special “one-of-a-kind” pieces that Pierce produced which you will not see anywhere else - the Pierce family, along with several collectors, were kind enough to let these rare items be photographed for the book. Prices are high, as usual for a collector book like this, although Howard Pierce porcelain keeps getting more popular with every year. - Read Reviews
This is pretty much the reference to get for Catalina pottery. Luckily, this one is still in print and available on Amazon and other online shops. The Catalina Clay Products company is profiled along with it’s native clay products. In addition to artware and dinnerware, noted Catalina expert Carol Coates describes the company’s tile output as well as details the different names involved in the development of Catalina Island pottery.
I haven’t yet picked up this book, because we don’t have too much Catalina ourselves. However, this is high on my wishlist of books to pick up soon. - Read Reviews
Another book that is currently out of print, this is supposed to be a great reference on Garden City Pottery of San Jose. We’re thinking of eventually purchasing this book second hand somewhere, but are waiting to find a good price on it. It may be helpful especially for those collectors and sellers who live near the Bay Area in California, since this is where many of the Garden City items can be found - and most of the pottery from this company are unmarked, so a guide could be useful. - Read Reviews
While a little light on textual content, this book is required reading if you’re a collector of Barbara Willis pottery. I don’t believe they are currently selling this book on Amazon. We actually purchased our book directly from Barbara at the Los Angeles Pottery show. I think that you can also try contacting author Jack Chipman to see if he may have a few copies. There are tons of detailed pictures of Barbara Willis’s work covering both past and present lines, as well as a brief history of her life and contributions. - Read Reviews
We actually don’t collect Florence at all, but we’re listing this here because there is a large collector following for this company. I believe there may be another book on Florence, but I’m not sure. This one is done by Schiffer and contains illustrations of the various ceramic ware that Florence Ceramics produced, including values. I believe the last time this book was updated was 2002, so there may be some discrepancy in the prices (there usually are discrepancies in collector books anyhow, though). There’s also a general history of the company, description of the potter process and interviews with employees and relatives of the founders. - Read Reviews