Locations: Capistrano Beach, San Clemente
Dates of Operation: 1950 - Present
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
I’ve come across Vohann of California items a number of times at the thrift store but haven’t really paid any attention to them. The reason is not because most of the items are newer 1970s-80s ceramic pieces, but because many of them look very tacky to me - and not in a good “kitchsy” way.
Many of the pieces you will see are bathroom and household accessories such as towel holders, wall racks, soap dishes, toothbrush holders and vases. The colors are often pastels like pink, turquoise, peach mixed with gray. They just remind me too much of the 80s. The shapes are often animals, like whales, frogs, rabbits, sea otters, elephants, hippos and swan (Chipman notes that they have made over 300 different ceramic animals)
I did find the gray whale planter vase in the photos below which was a little less of an eyesore. It has a blowhole that is meant to put flowers in so that it looks like its water being sprayed out.
The company was originally based in Capistrano Beach and formed in the 1950s, so they do have some items that are quite different looking and much more interesting. One such line was called Structeramic and featured a combination of pottery ashtrays and other items with wrought metal wire holders. These items have a sort of crackle glaze and are usually white.
Another interesting line is called “Hoodwink” and is sometimes crackle glazed as well. These items are often ashtrays and have interesting shapes that look sort of like someone took some shears and cut out angular pieces of the pottery.
Backstamps for most of the newer items consist of an oval foil label like the one pictured above. They read: “An Original Design By Vohann of Calif, Inc. Capistrano Beach, Calif U.S.A. Design C by Vohann of Calif, Inc.”. Interestingly, the stamp for some of the Structeramics looks different. It’s a freeform shape and it actually says “Laguna Beach” instead of Capistrano Beach. That’s interesting - I wonder if they were based there at some point in time.
Most of the time the items only have paper stickers which actually come off quite easily with age and wear. I think this leads to a lot of unidentified Vohann out there. There are some items that have impressed stamps on the bottom - I believe these are mostly older items. I know Hoodwink is sometimes stamped on the bottom.
Interestingly, the company still exists and their address is now in San Clemente. I actually wrote to the company to see if they could provide any archival information. To date, I haven’t received any acknowledgement at all that they even received my email. This is understandable of course as times change - most likely they aren’t interested in or can’t provide information for collectors. The company currently produces bath accessories, focusing heavily on towels, although I believe they still do make ceramic accessories.
Note that sometimes their name is mistakenly written as “Johann” - this is somewhat significant as there is also a California Pottery maker known as Johannes Brahm to get confused with!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.