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Catalina Island Pottery

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Catalina Island Pottery

American Ceramics Manufacturer

William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum tycoon, created Catalina Clay Products which for 10 years produced brick, tile, tableware and decorative pottery on Santa Catalina Island 26 miles off the southern California coast. The pottery, under Wrigley’s instruction was required to use local clays from the island for two purposes: to produce building products for Wrigley’s development campaign to bring tourists to the island, and to provide much needed year-round employment for island residents. Brick was used to build hotels and public buildings, and their tiles were used for interiors and exteriors of those buildings, fountains and Avalon’s (primary town on the island) decorative sea walls. In 1930, Wrigley brought artisans to the Island to design numerous decorative and functional pottery including souvenirs, vases, candlesticks, bookends, figurines and tableware. In its prime the pottery had 12 kilns and produced 10,000-15,000 pieces a week.

Until 1931, Wrigley insisted that local dark brown and red clays found on the island be used, however this clay body chipped easily. After Wrigley’s death in 1932, white clay from mainland California was combined with the local clay, until finally only white clay was used. Glazes were made with local minerals mined on the island. At first, wares were sold in open free standing stores in Avalon, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Dinnerware and art ware was sold through department and jewelry stores. In 1937, Catalina Clay Products, including all equipment, stock, molds, and trademarks, were sold to Gladding McBean & Co. (of Glendale and Hermosa Beach, CA) who continued to produce art ware and dinnerware shapes for their Catalina Pottery line until 1942. These wares were marked with an ink stamp, whereas items made on Catalina Island are embossed stamps or handwritten fired in the bottoms of the objects.

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