Dates of Operation: 1944 - 1962
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
Featured Laurel Potteries items (view more)
"life" By Laurel Of California (4) 7" Vintage Cups & Saucers
Laurel Of California 10" Dinner Plate Speckled/beige
"life" By Laurel Of California (4) 7" Vintage Plates - Light Yellow
2009.06.25 Laurel Seaside
While I’m a pretty big fan of Laurel Pottery, I’m not going to try and go into any depth about the company because it’s been handled so ably elsewhere. I don’t want to do a disservice to all the Laurel collectors out there, so I’m just going to present the very basics. There’s a fellow on Ebay who has some amazing guides up that talk about all the different Laurel lines as well as tidbits of interesting history. I’ve linked most of his guides above. You might also be interested in checking out Michael Pratt’s excellent Mid-Century Modern Dinnerware
Laurel’s history can be traced back to the Joaquin Pottery, located in Stockton, CA. As early as 1938, that pottery was producing solid colored dinnerware, but in the 40s Laurel took over operations. Through the 50s, Laurel produced quite a few different lines, a great number in a speckled glaze. Quite a few of those lines were designed by the generally unheralded designer Ted Scarpino.
It can be very difficult to distinguish between the lines Laurel made as they are sometimes similar in both shape and glaze, and certain items may not be marked at all. In addition, many other California (and non-California) companies produced similar speckle glaze dinnerware, including but not limited to: Bauer, Metlox, Vernon and Santa Anita (see the photos for a comparison of Santa Anita Ware and Laurel). I would suggest looking at the photos in the Ebay guides.
A few other tidbits: California Holiday was actually designed by Edith Heath who went on to form Heath Ceramics which still thrives today. Most of the pieces I’ve come across in thrift stores and flea markets are in the “Seaside” line. This line was not marked with the name “Seaside”, and it has been postulated that this was a “giveaway” set that people could obtain by sending in grocery receipts for participating stores.
One thing I’ve seen about Laurel (and the Ebay guides seem to agree about this) is that many Laurel pieces were distributed even though they had flaws. On top of that, the ware was not exactly the best quality and tended to chip a lot. Most pieces I find have some sort of wear on them, but you also see many instances with chips or flaws that were glazed over in the factory and did not come from normal usage.
Laurel continued producing ware until 1961 when the Pasadena based Sylvan (I’ve actually seen non-Laurel ware marked “Sylvans”) company took over their operations. I believe they only continued producing the Laurel designs for less than a year. I’ll try to include more info and pictures later on about the Laurel company. I hope this will do for now, and please visit the Ebay guides for better information.
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