Locations: Monterey Park, El Monte
Dates of Operation: 1941 - 1963
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
The eventual full name of this company was “The California Cleminsons”, but we’ll refer to them simply as Cleminsons since that’s how we see them listed most often. This was a rather popular California Pottery that produced mostly giftware and kitchen items from the early 1940s till 1963.
Even though I don’t really collect the type of material they put out, I have a sort of personal interest in this company. This is because, according to Chipman’s book, they got their start in their garage which was located in the city of Monterey Park. I grew up in Monterey Park and lived there for over 25 years - I often visit my parents who are still there. I’ve often wondered just which “garage” it was that the Cleminson’s got their start, but there is no exact address given for their residence.
In any case, it was originally Betty Cleminson’s pottery hobby that eventually led to the formation of their garage business. Her husband George helped with the business side while Betty did the designs and decoration. Later, because they did so well, they relocated to an actual factory located in El Monte. There is an address given for the new factory, but I wasn’t able to find the exact location. I’ve been trying to determine if this was because the street number no longer exists (Grand Ave DOES exist, but is a very short street).
There are a couple of items that I see constantly - one is the “Pie Bird” which was one of the first items that Betty worked on, and certainly one of the most popular. The other design I always recognize is known as “Distlefink” and features a Pennsylvania style bird and various other features. The bird bread tray featured in my photos is from this line, although they’re usually on white instead of brown like mine. I’ve also seen many mugs and bowls inscribed with “Grandpa”, “Grandma”, “Mom” and “Dad” - I’ve passed up 3 or 4 at the thrift already. I think people don’t recognize these as being older because of their “homemade look”
One thing that is nice is that most pieces are marked with a similar ink stamp - I often see them in green if the piece is white. They usually say “California Cleminsons” inside a sort of circle, with or without children around the sides. My Distlefink bird bowl has this stamp w/out the children, in black ink. I think there is also an older(?) mark that is simply a Large “C” with a lowercase “b” inside of it, which was a treatment of Betty Cleminson’s initials. Keep in mind that the ink stamp is sometimes faded or mis-stamped.
One note - they do have some less common “modern” looking pieces that were produced in the 50s. Two of the lines were called Caltempo and Europa.
Hedi Schoop actually helped with the designs and glazes on some of the other modern designs, and I believe that Barbara Willis’s molds (ashtrays?) were used for a few of them as well.
Also, I’ve discovered there is an Ebay collector’s club for Cleminsons. There are also many avid Cleminsons collectors out there, some of whom have generously shared information and photos for the site. Clemcollector was kind enough to let me feature some of the marks that occur on Cleminsons pieces.
ImagesEbay listed under this name. We've tried to hand tailor the searches below so they will bring up the most accurate results. If there are no results, it will list general California pottery.