Locations: Los Angeles
Dates of Operation: 1940s - ?
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
Popular Lines & Patterns:
I haven’t seen too many pieces from Chalice - the one time I came across a larger tea set at a swap meet a few years ago it was too expensive for me at the time, and unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. The next month when I went back to that swap meet seller, they were gone. But they had some really innovative and modern designs for the 1940s, and if I ever come across some items at reasonable prices I’ll pick them up. The pics below are from a single cup in an antique shop. The third pic is not mine, but I found it on Ebay - it’s just to show an alternate signature.
According to Chipman, Chalice was begun by Charles and Alice Smith - the company moniker is actually a compilation of their first names, and not the cup name (chalice, as in the holy grail). It’s really interesting that so many California companies used this naming device. I don’t believe that an exact location of their production facilities is known, though it was definitely in Southern California, most likely LA.
Their items are really interesting. The first thing that often strikes you are the designs which are very flowing and “impromptu”-looking, often highlighted or outlined with thin white lines. I’ve often thought of the company as the “Squiggle” company because of their decorative use of these white squiggly lines. The other thing about the ware is that the glaze often has a very rough, almost painted-bisque texture to it. They favored base colors like black, dark blue-green, gray-green, maroon, slate-blue and chartreuse.
Most of the pieces I’ve seen are dinnerware, tea sets and vases. The shapes are very interesting and seem modern for their time. I’m notas familiar with the work of the famous husband and wife potter team Mary and Edwin Scheier, but I did see a few photos of some plates and chargers in a book that reminded me significantly of Chalice pieces. Both the colors and decoration were similar. It’s kind of interesting, as well, that the Scheiers made a lot of pottery in the shape of “chalice vases”.
Chalice is considered less common than some of the other Calif. potteries - however, I think part of that may be due to the fact that they often go mis-identified. This is because while many pieces are marked, the “squiggly” manner of their hand-marked pieces (I don’t believe they used ink stamps or molded impressions, but don’t quote me) is difficult to identify. In addition, you’ll often see “partially” marked pieces - I’m not sure the reason for this although Chipman has mentioned that it may have something to do with the breakup of their partnership? I’ve seen pieces marked as “Chalice”, “Chal” and “Alice”. Even the “full” signature Chalice is difficult to read at times - I’ve seen people mistake it as “Charles”.
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