Locations: Los Angeles
Dates of Operation: 1875 - Present
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
Popular Lines & Patterns:
El Patio, Coronado, Catalina Pottery, Franciscan (Del Mar, Apple, Ivy, Desert Rose, Tiempo)
2010.03.26 Gladding McBean Supper Tray
In the past, we’d put off creating a gallery for Gladding-McBean because it was such a well known, established pottery, with tons of information and books out there on the company. As of the Big 5 California companies, their Franciscan plant churned out tons of ceramics that most pottery collectors are familiar with in some way today. So we’re not going to go into depth here - if you want more info, we suggest picking up a collector’s book on it. There are also tons of serious GMcB collectors out there who have so much knowledge, and you can see some of their collections on Flickr (one notable photo collection is Bill and Carolyn Miller’s Flickr set - simply amazing!)
The short history version: Charles Gladding, Peter McBean and George Chambers were the founders - way back in 1875. The company was based in Lincoln, making terra cotta building materials. They also had several different plants in Southern California and also absorbed some other local potteries/plants, including the Tropico Pottery in 1923. That pottery was located at 2901 Los Felix Blvd in the Glendale area - the current business at this location is… CostCo!
They also ended up purchasing the Catalina Island Pottery in the 30s, with the molds being repurposed for use as well as other items being added to the line. Collector’s today are often stymied by GMcB items marked as “Catalina Pottery” which in nearly all cases do not refer to items actually made by Catalina Island Pottery.
The first dinnerware line GMcB produced was El Patio, followed shortly by Coronado. But it was the Franciscan trade name that covered their most popular products, and that’s the name that most people know today. Tons and tons of different Franciscan patterns were made, some more popular than others.
In 1962 the company ended up selling Franciscan to the Lock Joint Pipe Company, which became Interpace Corp. You’ll often find later period Franciscan marked with that moniker. In 1979, Franciscan was again bought, this time by Wedgewood who eventually shut down the California operations in 1984 in order to save money. They moved those operations to their own facilities in England.
One of the most interesting things is that the Gladding McBean name continued, having been purchased by Pacific Coast Building Products. I remember looking up the website and finding the company still operating, but producing mostly institutional pipe and other items that weren’t of interest. That seems to have changed, and they have a whole line of Garden Ware now. I’m not sure how those items are marked or how closely they follow older GMcB items, but collectors should keep this in mind when looking for vintage Gladding items.
We’ve come across tons of Gladding McBean items in our thrift and antique store travels - we haven’t really gotten a chance to photograph them yet, but will try to get some photos up. As we’ve said, there are numerous serious GMcB collectors out there who are extremely knowledgable. We’d suggest checking with them if you have any questions about the company’s pottery.
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.