Franciscan Pottery – From the Sewer to the & # 39; desert rose & # 39;

The background of the Franciscan pottery

"Franciscan Pottery" began in the mid-1930s as a Gladding, McBean & Co. company founded in 1875 by Charles Gladding and his partners Peter McGill McBean and George Chambers. Charles Gladding had come to the West from Chicago a year earlier to explore new economic opportunities in the field of clay sewage pipes, which had been his field of work in Chicago.

While hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world came to California to seek happiness after discovering gold in 1848, Charles Gladding decided to move to California when he discovered the discovery of … clay deposits near California Lincoln learned. Shortly after its foundation, the company produced and shipped clay sewage pipes throughout California.

By 1890, Gladding, McBean & Co. had expanded its production beyond sewage pipes. These striking, semi-cylindrical, unglazed, red roof tiles of the main campus buildings that characterize Stanford University? A project by Gladding, McBean & Co. in 1891 when the university was founded. And that's just one example of a lot of such projects. Other examples include the presidential libraries of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in California and the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The beginnings of Franciscan pottery

McBean got the ball rolling when he bought Tropico Pottery, where in about a decade or so the Franciscan dinnerware line was going to be made. Things moved quickly in 1933, when Gladding, McBean, bought another company that had works in Hermosa Beach and Vernon; and things actually accelerated in 1934, when Frederic J. Grant, who was previously Vice President and then President (1932) of Weller Pottery in Zanesville, Ohio, was hired in January. He and his wife Mary, a recognized designer, gave the company strong direction until their retirement in 1952. Some of her work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

No less significant than the acquisition of additional companies and facilities for the later success of the Franciscan dinnerware series was the 1928 Malinovszky patent for the Malinitic process, which was improved and perfected in the following years.

The Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles in June 1934 and the following month's New York China and Glass Show were the places on the west and east coasts where Franciscan art and dinnerware were first presented to the public. The New York Prime Minister honored the Franciscans as the first Californian ceramics to be marketed in the East.

Why "Franciscans?"

It was a smart marketing move when Gladding, McBean named his department for dinnerware and art ceramics "Franciscan". With just one word they recalled old California and Spanish Padres – early missionaries in California – and in a wider sense, the myth of a simple peasant existence they wanted to bring closer to the rest of the world.

The Franciscan name also testified to a historical tradition that, along with the glitter of an emerging film industry and an exotic climate, established a romanticized identity of things "California" and contributed to their emergence.

However, it took more than a clever name to ensure success over the years of Franciscan pottery. (The name was changed to Franciscan Ware in 1936 to broaden the image and make it "upscale": another smart marketing move.) The memories of a simpler time in the West were fueled by promotions that helped popularize the Chandler contributed crockery and served to drive it over the years to heights of covetousness. An early example of this was a travelogue by Lowell Thomas in 1936, which presented the Franciscan product and factory. In the 1950s became the Franciscan ivy Pattern was presented on I love Lucyand Mary Tyler Moore served guests on Franciscan Apple Dishes in the original Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s.

Of course, without the designs and craftsmanship of the highest quality, the Franciscan success would have been short-lived.

The designs have changed over the years from the initial solid pastel colors to the hand-painted floral designs Apple. desert Rose, and ivy – from the 1940s to the "nuclear age" Starburst Pattern of the 1950s.

The end of the US production of Franciscan ceramics (/ goods)

Gladding, McBean, who had become a family owned and controlled company by the late 1920s, merged with the Lock Joint Pipe Company in 1962 to found International Pipe and Ceramics (whose name was later changed to "forward"). gap). In 1979, the giant Wedgwood Limited of England purchased the property in Glendale, and in 1984 the entire production of Franciscan pottery in the US was discontinued when the plant was closed and production relocated to England.

Although production of the Franciscan dinnerware series continued, none has been produced in the US (nor the "Malinite" process), and the years 1934 to 1984 are considered by collectors to be the "golden days" of Franciscan ceramics.

Helpful sources of information:

Page, Bob et. al. Franciscan: An American food tradition, Greensboro: Page-Frederiksen Publications, 1999 (Amazon Preview)

Huntsville Antique Show: Franciscan Desert Rose Harness

Gladding McBean