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Bauer Pottery USA


Coffee Carafe with Lid
circa 1930

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

This Bauer Coffee Carafe with Lid 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 (basically a silhouette of the final shape was cut out of a metal plate). A renown leader in California monochromes was the John Andrew Bauer Pottery of Los Angeles, founded by prosperous Paducah, Kentuckian J. Andreas Bauer (1884-1923) who sought a milder winter climate and realized the potential need for nursery and florist artware in southern California. The four large periodic kilns produced redware flower pots which were the mainstay of income for Bauer Pottery. Bauer Pottery produced hand thrown, slip cast or molded ware, later attracting more customers by offering dinnerware, along with their popular line of flowerpots. Stoneware mixing bowls, small eating bowls (called nappies), ramekins, bean pots, whiskey jugs, and covered crocks were added to the line in later years.

Though Bauer Pottery had done well in the increasingly popular California pottery business, it sold one-third of the business in 1922 to Watson Brockmon, the son-in-law of John Andrew Bauer, who presided over glazes and shapes that inspired even greater success for the most colorful chapter in the history of American dinnerware. After a workers strike and other issues, the pottery was closed by Bauer’s daughter in 1962.

Victor Houser, who trained at the University of Illinois, became the pottery’s ceramic engineer in 1929. The Bauer “plain” service launched in 1930 in semi-translucent shades of green, light blue, and yellow. Among other things, Houser was hired to mix opaque glazes that would popularize casual tableware in mix-n-match sets of bright opaque colors. It was an immediate success and competed with West Virginia’s Homer Laughlin’s Fiestaware for decades to follow.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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