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Bauer Pottery USA

American, b. 1878

Coffee Carafe with Lid
circa 1930

Stoneware, wood, and copper
9 x 8.75 x 7 in.

A renown leader in California monochrome pottery was the John Andrew Bauer Pottery of Los Angeles, founded by prosperous J. Andreas Bauer (1884–1923) from Paducah, Kentucky, who sought a milder winter climate and realized the potential need for nursery and florist artware in Southern California. Four large kilns produced redware flowerpots, which provided the main income for Bauer Pottery. Bauer also produced hand-thrown, slip-cast and molded ware, and later attracted more customers by offering dinnerware. Stoneware mixing bowls, small eating bowls (called nappies), ramekins, bean pots, whiskey jugs, and covered crocks were added to the line in later years.

This Bauer Coffee Carafe was made in the mid-to-late 1930s and falls between the “plain” service and “Ringware” styles. Bauer did not have a master mold maker in the 1930s, so this coffee carafe and a plethora of other shapes were hand thrown via a jiggering process. The clay was thrown while being pressed against a pattern (a silhouette of the final shape cut out of a metal plate).

Though Bauer Pottery had done well in the increasingly popular California pottery business, one-third of the business was sold in 1922 to Watson Brockmon, John Andrew’s son-in-law, who presided over glazes and shapes that inspired even greater success for the most colorful chapter in the history of American dinnerware. Victor Houser, who trained at the University of Illinois, became the pottery’s ceramics engineer in 1929. Among other things, Houser was hired to mix opaque glazes that would popularize casual tableware in mix-and-match sets of bright opaque colors. It was an immediate success and competed with Homer Laughlin’s Fiestaware for decades to follow. After a strike and other issues, the pottery was closed by Bauer’s daughter in 1962.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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