Dates of Operation: Unknown
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
This pottery is a bit of a mystery - while we have seen many of them (they are NOT RARE as some sellers will try to tell you), we just haven’t been able to find detailed information on Frank Moreno Ceramics. Neither Chipman or Lehner seems to have information about this California potter, which is a shame since the pieces are so nice.
It seems that there is some information about the potter named Frank Moreno - some of it is probably accurate, while we can’t be sure of other information. It is generally assumed that it is correct that he was a potter who produced mostly vases, bowls and other gardenware and decorative ware sometime between 1940 and 1970.
But I found one tidbit that seems to show some interesting information. It stated that he was actually one of the descendents of the famous pioneer Frank E. Brown, for whom the Moreno Valley (near Riverside, CA) was named. Brown of course is “Moreno” in Spanish, and it was said that the name was changed because of financial troubles. I would like to stress that I’ve found no supporting documentation that backs up this story, but I’m just including it here anyhow.
As said before for the actual wares he produced, Moreno has a distinct style that usually (but not always) follows a few rules: 1. Very glossy finish 2. drip glaze that can range from nearly monochromatic to many different colors being used and 3. circular or globe-like in shape.
After finding the one piece pictured here which is a very typical example of Moreno Ceramics, I decided to do some comparisons with the items being sold. While this “globe” shape was also produced with variations (somewhat cylindrical, but diamond-shaped, etc) these globes are the ones we see most frequently. I’ve broken it down into what I’m calling 1-Globes, 2-Globes, 3-Globes, 4-Globes and 5-Globes. Note: this is just my OWN interpretation and names for the pieces. The reasons for the numbers is that they usually are marked in this way on the bottom. Also, I now believe that a later (or earlier?) stamp for Moreno Ceramics may use the prefix BP-# for these globes. Not 100% sure about that yet. Sizes (approximated) are:
1-Globe - 4″ tall / 6.25″ diameter / 4.5″ mouth
2-Globe - 4.5″ tall / 8.5″ diameter / 5.5″ mouth
3-Globe - 6″ tall / 9.5″ diameter / 6.5″ mouth
4-Globe - 6.5″ tall / 12″ diameter / 8.0″ mouth
5-Globe - 8″ tall / 14″ diameter / 11.0″ mouth
Here are some of the other shapes and numbers that we’ve come across from Moreno Ceramics:
12 - “Strawberry” Style Multi-Hole Planter
701B, 701MM, 703, 703B - “Hexagon” Style Planters, Possibly Caleramics related #s?
DP-3, DP-4 - “Basket” Style Bowls
LB-2 - Med. “Hexagon” Planter / 4″ tall / 9″ diameter / 6″ mouth
LB-4 - Extra Lg. “Hexagon” Planter / 5 3/4″ tall / 14″ diameter
MP-1 - Med. “Hexagon” Bowl or Planter
P-1 - Tall “Artichoke” Bowl or Planter
P-2 - Short “Artichoke” Bowl or Planter
S-1 - Sm. “Pumpkin Pot” Planter / 4.25″ tall / 7″ diameter /5″ mouth
S-2 - Med. “Pumpkin Pot” Planter
S-3 - Lg. “Pumpkin Pot” Planter
Many other pieces are marked as Frank Moreno, but don’t have numbers. The 700 series numbers are interesting - it seems to be mostly reserved for “hexagon” shaped pieces. For all shapes, some pieces are most likely handmade, while others seem to be made from molds.
I have seen all sorts of different treatments for the glazes - there was one Ebay store seller who had a ton of them earlier. I have to say I think they are EXTREMELY overpriced in the stores. I personally wouldn’t pay $80-100 for a bowl, unless it had a spectacular drip glaze and color and was perfectly mint.
As for the markings, luckily most of the pieces are marked in-mold, usually something to the effect of “Moreno Ceramics” or “Frank Moreno Ceramics”. For the Globes, you will see a number indicating the size usually. In addition, mine and some others I’ve seen have an “X” underneath the backstamp. Not sure what that indicates. The stamp almost looks handdrawn to me. There are some other pieces that have a “neater” looking mark that looks like a stamp. The non-Globe pieces will have other types of numbers - I’ve seen several in the 700s.
Update 6/1/2008: Funny, just a few days after I put together this gallery I came across another Frank Moreno piece and it wasn’t one of the Globe pieces. I found a low bowl or planter in a plain pink glaze that I almost thought was a newer item until I looked at the bottom. It’s only two inches high and is also footed unlike the Globes which have a heat ring. It has a diameter of about 6.5 inches. The glaze has a few weird blue dots inside of it here and there - not sure what that comes from. It is marked with “Frank Moreno U.S.A.” and looks a little different than the Globe stamp. The pictures are below…
Update 4/20/2009: Since these first Moreno Ceramics finds we’ve come across quite a few different items from that company. However, our information about Frank Moreno, his company and it’s history remains elusive. Still, we’ll be posting up more of the finds soon and also we’ll try to nail down some of the different stamps and numbers that existed. One thing is becoming clear - marks on his work are often very lightly impressed or obscurred by the glaze, so it can be difficult to identify. We’ve been going by shape, which opens up a new can of worms: we’re still not 100% sure if Moreno pieces exist that are not marked with an impression on the bottom (though it seems like it should be the case). We know that a lot of other companies produced similar pottery, which makes it difficult if you assume now that Moreno pieces exist without stamps. It’s also become apparent that he had some sort of arrangement in the 1970s-80s with Caleramics, a garden and giftware company based in Commerce, CA. Some Frank Moreno pieces have been found with Caleramics sticker on them.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.