2009 Los Angeles Pottery Show

Thursday February 12, 2009

Los Angeles Pottery Show 2009 - Potteries of California

We had a wonderful time at the 2009 Los Angeles Pottery Show. Held at the Pasadena Convention Center this past Feb 7-8, the show was an overwhelming experience for newcomers to pottery collecting like ourselves. We were seriously awestruck by the amount of amazing vintage pottery that was available. Perhaps 30-40% of the pottery there was actually California Pottery, but it was actually very educational to see all the different vintage pottery that was produced elsewhere.

The show featured dealers of vintage pottery along with various “new” potters and potteries. It was very interesting to see the works from the modern potteries, such as Ephraim Faience Pottery and Sassafras Pottery, which are focusing on contemporary pottery with an older arts and crafts feel. In either case, most of the newer and older pottery was far out of our price range. So we were mostly window shopping.

I noticed that we were among the youngest folks at the show - this was a little disconcerting at first, but I guess it’s to be expected. The more advanced collectors would probably have been collecting since before we were even born! I know there are younger people who are into pottery - but perhaps they don’t know about the show, or are more interested in creating their own pottery than collecting it. I’m hoping someone might read about it here and try attend next year.

Los Angeles Pottery Show 2009 - Potteries of California

One of the highlights of the show for us was meeting the legendary California potter Barbara Willis (Abbott). She was exhibiting some of her newer wares that she’s been creating - at the young age of 91 years! Truly an inspiration. We snapped a photo as she signed the Jack Chipman book we bought about her. I’ve been searching for some of her older pottery at thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores for years now. It’s appreciated significantly since she famously “reappeared” at a flea market in 1996 after a hiatus of over 30 years, so it’s a little out of our price range. We do have one of her less expensive vases that has the “bird” decals on it. I’m still hoping one of these days to come across a planter or vase in all of it’s crackle glaze beauty.

Los Angeles Pottery Show 2009 - Potteries of CaliforniaAnother celebrity at the LA Pottery show that we got to speak to was David Rago. You might remember him from his appraisals on the Antiques Roadshow. It turns out that Mr. Rago and Suzanne Perrault do verbal appraisals every year for this pottery show. There is a suggested donation of five dollars per item, and proceeds go to Homeboy Industries, a local job training and assistance organization.

The funny thing is, we had actually found a piece of pottery worthy of an appraisal a few weeks back! We had come across a short squat vase at the thrift store that we thought was from the famous Grueby company. It wasn’t from California, but we weren’t complaining since Mr. Rago appraised it for $1000! You can see him holding it in the photo. It dates from 1910 or before that, and has an interesting green “alligator” skin type of glaze to it.

Finding this really old and rare vase gave me hope of coming across some of the older elusive California pottery like E.A. Batchelder and California Faience one day. I mean, I’m not expecting to come across it tomorrow. But it was just a reminder that persistence pays off - you just have to keep hitting the thrifts and try to be in the right place at the right time.

Los Angeles Pottery Show 2009 - Potteries of California

We also spent a good amount of time in California Pottery author Jack Chipman’s booth. I’d been to one of his house sales last year. Since we focus primarily on California Pottery on this site, there was a lot of stuff to see.

We drooled over the many Howard Pierce figurines for sale - and in the end, we just couldn’t avoid picking up a few items. We got a pair of the taller penguins - I’ll be putting those pictures up in another post later on this month.

Los Angeles Pottery Show 2009 - Potteries of California

It was also interesting that he was displaying a number of pieces of Denwar pottery. You may remember me talking about these “Mola-mola” - like dinnerware shapes earlier. We would’ve picked up one of these striking cups to match our saucer, but none of them were in the Guinea Gold color.

I’m already looking forward to the next LA Pottery show - it’ll be held in late January 2010, so mark your calenders now!


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8 Responses to “2009 Los Angeles Pottery Show”

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  1. Scott Lindberg Says:

    Looks like you had a great time! I wish we had a show of this caliber in central Illinois, but alas being surrounded by farmland unfortunately doesn’t attract such excellent events. Oh, to meet Barbara Willis!

    I wish I had a time machine and could travel back to 2005, knowing that you’re collecting Bantu in Guinea Gold. I am mostly interested in Benin Blue, so when I came across a couple small sets of Bantu in Guinea Gold a few years back I passed them up. This is one of my favorite dinnerware lines, especially given the designers’ link to my home town of Minneapolis via Esther’s tenure teaching at the University of Minnesota.

  2. Bryan Says:

    Oh wow, that’s pretty cool to have spotted all that Bantu at the thrift! Well, I would’ve needed the time machine as well - because in 2005 I knew absolutely nothing about pottery and ceramics! =) This is a rather new obsession - I envy all of you who have known about it for many years and have had the foresight to collect some of these designs. Funny, I went back to the same swap meet and found two matching Guinea Gold saucers - from the same seller! He said he had a lot of other Denwar but someone bought them out earlier.

    Well, I agree that it’s nice on one hand to live in a city where they might have bigger shows. However, it’s slim pickings for yard and garage sales, swap meets and thrifts - there are too many professionals here. I would love to get out to the midwest someday and hunt the yard sales there.

  3. Scott Lindberg Says:

    Let me know if you ever make it to central Illinois for some thrifting and yard sales. I’d be more than happy to show you around!

  4. Leah Angel Says:

    That show looks so wonderful! I wish we had something similar in this area. I’ve been interested in California Pottery for a long time but haven’t found too much of it I liked and could afford. I do have a little Denwar cup and saucer in gibi green that I’m proud of :) Thanks for writing the interesting and informative blog!

  5. Bryan Says:

    @leah - thanks for the kind words! Which area are you in? Calif pottery was sort of a natural fit because we come across it much more often than other glass or pottery manufacturers on the east coast and midwest. I feel the same way about people finding all the other great midcentury modern things in other states that is sort of non-existent here, except at high prices. Plus, of course, yard and garage sales aren’t all they’re cracked up to be over here. But the great thing about calif pottery is that it’s very difficult to get bored because there were so many different ones! I like collecting things where you’re not looking at the same company’s pieces all day long.

  6. Parth Patel Says:

    I am big fan of cerami products. if you have any upcoming events in India then post it on your spot i will check your blog regularly. Thanks

  7. jenny Says:

    Hi–I have an e.a. batchelder vase! Perfect condition about maybe 7″ tall, it”s a tall rectangular shape, camellish brown with a beautiful turquoise interior. I’m guessing on the height since I don’t have it in front of me. I’m trying to find current prices, maybe you can help me?
    I’ve had it forever, it used to be my aunts. She lived in so. cal for over 50 years. I lived there for 26. Hope you can help! I’ll send pics if you’d like.
    thanks, jenny

  8. Bryan Says:

    @jenny - sorry, I can’t give any values - but that’s mostly because I don’t know. What I do know is that the Batchelder stuff is more desirable than some of the other Calif potteries. Have a look on Ebay, they come up once in awhile. I believe in general it’s a bit older too, pre 40s? I would either try get a pottery book, or have an expert look at it.




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