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Al Capp Shmoo yellow ashtray Hanzakos Ceramics United Features, Inc. 1948
Current Price: $22.50
Current Bids: 0
Ends in: 5d 9h 33m


Potteries of California

I know very little about this company - indeed, I’ve only come across two other items that were marked as “Hanzakos Ceramics“. The reason I decided to make a gallery for it is because I realized that for these complete unknowns, it helps to give them as big an exposure as I can - in the hope that someone may see it and be able to shed more light on the company. Earlier, I’d been content to simply list unknown companies in the “Unknowns” Gallery. From now on, as long as it is clear that the pottery was made as a production piece, I’m going to make a separate gallery for the company. If it turns out later that the information I’ve come up with is incorrect, we’ll just fix it later.

When I found the above “Shmoo” planter in early 2008, I had no idea what it was. I just liked it because it looked like one of those ghosts from the old Disney cartoons or something. Plus, it was a dollar. It had part of a mark, which I was able to discern as “United Features Inc. 1948″, so I knew it was fairly old. But the “Hanzakos” mark was not readable (see the stamp below)

Then, while doing a random search on some different pottery, I came across a similar “Shmoo”. I had no idea it was even called a Shmoo! From there, I found out that the Shmoo was a character from the popular Lil’ Abner comic strip by Al Capp. Now I had more information to search for the company. I had thought that it originally said “HANDMADE Ceramics”, but I found an older auction that said it was “HANZAKOS Ceramics”. I’d actually remembered seeing a casserole dish awhile ago that was said to be marked “Hanzakos”, so I figured it was really an actual company.

I found a few other things online - mind you, all of this information was found secondhand. The company is believed to have been based in Eureka which is pretty far north in California. I’ve actually been there, and it seems a little unlikely that they would be making studio productions. But I know that a lot of figurines, ash trays, and toys were made depicting the Shmoo, so it’s possible that the company got the contract and moved down to SoCal because of it?

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I’ve figured out the full stamp on the bottom now. It should read: “United Features Inc. Copyright 1948 Hanzakos Ceramics, Inc. Burbank, Calif“. Interestingly, I’ve also found the exact item in another auction. Apparently, this was not a planter as I originally thought, but part of an cigarette holder / ashtray combo. This is actually a “Girl Shmoo” which functioned as the ashtray, while the Guy Shmoo was the cigarette holder. I had thought something was strange because it looked like he had the remnants of lipstick on.

I’ve read some people thought the Shmoos were made by Red Wing. I think this is a case of mistaken identity - I’m not saying that Red Wing never made a Shmoo character but I believe these folks are confused with the Eva Zeisel shakers which some sellers on Ebay call “Shmoo” or “Schmoo”.

Apparently, the Shmoo shown above is quite collectible, which is enough for me. But if anyone has more information on the Hanzakos company, please let me know whether or not the information I’ve come up with is correct.

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.

  

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