Locations: Los Angeles
Dates of Operation: 1937 - 1950s
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
Because DeLee Art was much more famous for their hand-decorated figurines, flower holders, and cookie jars, I haven’t come across their items as much. It’s just harder to pick these items out at the thrifts. Plus, I’m not as big a fan of the cute California pottery figurines than I am of household and garden items. However, we did come across the pink mid-century modern looking bowl below that was made by DeLee.
This bowl is kidney shaped and has a matte glaze with a grayish rim. It’s flat on the bottom without marks that I could see - however it did have the remnants of a silver foil stamp. Originally, this stamp would have been gold or silver with black lettering. It’s been worn off due to usage and washing, but I could still make out the imprint of the lettering. It reads “DeLee Art California Hand Decorated”. I’ve seen other similar bowls in different shapes and colors - they are definitely not representative of the company’s output, but we really like them nevertheless.
DeLee was started by Jimmy Lee Stewart - according to Chipman. I later found some other info that said she started up the company with funds obtained from an automobile accident lawsuit. It also said her last name changed to “Kohl” later on, although the company remained DeLee. I believe that she also became friends with Barbara Willis later on. The address I found for them from a price list locates their factory on 12th street in the heart of what is now the Fashion District in downtown Los Angeles.
I’ve also read some conflicting information saying that the company was started by Delores and Lee Mitchell, hence the name DeLee. Getting the correct information is always so difficult for California potteries - for now, I’ll stick with the description by Chipman, but I just wanted to note that alternate take. Actually, I’ve since found out that there is a DeLee collectors book but I haven’t been able to get a hold of a copy to check what they have listed for the historical and biographical information for the company. Will update later if I can find out.
DeLee pieces are pretty distinctive - someone mentioned the long eyelashes many figurines have. The facial expressions and the way that they were decorated can help to identify a piece. The backstamps are hugely varied, ranging from in-mold, ink stamps, foil / paper stamps, hangtags and hand-painted marks. Some pieces have a combination of these markings. Because many pieces had foil stamps as the only markings, you’ll often find them seemingly without any identification on the bottom. In that case, it can help to know the styles as well as the types of animals and human figurines that produced.Note: We've tried to provide as much info as possible on this pottery maker or artist. For further info, you may want to research the items they have on Ebay 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.