Dates of Operation: 1930s - ?
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
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There’s a couple reasons I’ve had difficulty researching the history and output of this pottery. The first is that KTK (as I’ll abbreviate it on this page, because of the backstamps) is an offshoot of a very well known Ohio pottery family which produced Knowles Taylor & Knowles. This other pottery is pretty collectible, which confuses matters for anyone searching for information on the KTK operation in California.
The second reason is that I’ve come across conflicting information about the history of the pottery. It’s pretty much accepted that this was a California based enterprise created by Homer Knowles, a member of that same Ohio family of potters. However, Lehner’s Encyclopedia says (via The Dictionary Guide to U.S. Pottery and Porcelain, by Derwich and Latos) that the pottery was started up in Santa Clara, CA in 1923 and only lasted for a year. I find that hard to believe, because of the amount and breadth of items produced. Chipman’s Encyclopedia doesn’t give an exact date for the pottery’s beginning, but does say late 1930s and places it in Burbank, CA.
I think perhaps that Homer Knowles might have closed the initial Santa Clara plant and then started up again in Burbank some years later. This seems even more plausible when you consider that the style, shape and glaze of the KTK marked ware that can be found today is undoubtedly similar to the Haldeman Pottery, which was located in Burbank, and also to La Cañada Pottery which shared facilities with Haldeman’s operation. It makes sense that Knowles may have benefited from Haldeman’s knowledge, especially since the latter was known to help out other pottery companies.
Many of the KTK items I’ve come across are matte glazed low flower or centerpiece bowls that have hand applied decorations such as ropes, bows or flowers. Others utilize the technique of cutting and reforming simple forms while the clay while still wet to create new shapes. You’ll find very similar types of items by the two aforementioned companies, in similar glazes as well. Other items they made include vases and animal figurines.
I don’t think the pottery must have lasted longer than the 1950s. I know there are collectible books on Knowles Taylor & Knowles, but I haven’t had a chance to go through any of them to see if they clarifly the history of their California pottery outfit.
The backstamps on KTK items can sometimes be a little faint, but most of the larger items have identifying marks. Some figurines do not. The stamps are usually inmold and say “KTK California” along with item numbers and sometimes “Hand-Made Burbank” or other words.
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