By Nicole Possert
Batchelder. Franciscan. Bauer. These names are reminders that the Eastside holds a rich (and still living) history of the art of pottery. While most of the area’s pottery factories closed long ago, the new Bauer Pottery revitalized the famous trademark and in the early 2000s opened a showroom on Rosslyn Street in Glassell Park. This is only about three miles north from where the original J.A. Bauer Company produced pottery and ceramics from 1910 to 1962 on West Avenue 33 in Lincoln Heights and close to other historic potteries.
This weekend’s Bauer Pottery Holiday Sale gives the opportunity to keep this pottery tradition alive and take a peek at why the Bauer name is so valued and intertwined with the history of Los Angeles.
“The J.A. Bauer Company (1885-1962), known for its simple, colorful tableware, has become one of the most sought and valued lines of American pottery, says The description for the book “Collector’s Encyclopedia of Bauer Pottery – Identification & Values” by Jack Chipman (The book is a very handy reference guide for potter collectors with vintage catalogs, brochures and archival photos of the old Bauer factory.) “Bauer pioneered the concept of solid color, mix-and-match dinnerware with their most popular lines of ring, plain ware, and Monterey Modern.”
More than 30 years after the original Bauer Potter closed its doors, the story picks up in 1998 when collector Janek Boniecki revitalized the trademark as Bauer Pottery and began reproducing popular pieces from the ringware line of the 1920s and ‘30s. Janek at first contracted with third-party manufactures to have the pottery made, but today, with the purchase of the factory of California Design Works, the company does all the production. Janek states, “The location, literally the backside of Forest Lawn Cemetery, chose us. It took us a few years to realize that the founder, J.A. Bauer, is buried at this cemetery, and we literally see his headstone from here.” How’s that for history being part of your contemporary life?
Bauer was one of many national art pottery and ceramics institutions that burgeoned, thrived and innovated the art and craft in the Eastside of Los Angeles in the early- to mid-1900s. Arts & Crafts Movement enthusiasts are very familiar with Ernest Batchelder. He designed craft tile in a shop built behind his Pasadena home in the Arroyo Seco but quickly met demand for his tiles with a production facility on Broadway in Los Angeles. By 1920 the company moved to larger quarters in Lincoln Heights at 2633 Artesian Street where Batchelder Tiles and products were made until 1949.
Most people recognize these notable names but other significant work by Claycraft Potteries, FHR Fred Robertson Los Angeles and Los Angeles Pottery Company were all producing work during this same heyday in locations just east of the L.A. River or near the Arroyo Seco tributary.
Historic Eastside Pottery Locations:
- Bauer Pottery (2000 – present) 3051 Rosslyn Street, Glassell Park
- J.A. Bauer Pottery Company (1910-62) 415 West Avenue 33, Lincoln Heights
- Batchelder-Wilson Company (1920– 49) 2633 Artesian Street, Lincoln Heights
- Franciscan Pottery (1934 – 84) 2901 Los Feliz Avenue, Atwater Village
- Claycraft Potteries Co. (1921-39) 3101 San Fernando Road, Glassell Park
- FHR Fred Robertson Los Angeles (1906-21) Los Angeles, specific address unknown
- Los Angeles Pottery Company (1906-21) Griffin Avenue, Lincoln Heights*
Nicole Possert is a contributor writing about home and history. Questions or ideas? just email her at [email protected]
Photos courtesy Bauer Pottery
* Information received from Rob Takata at Bauer Pottery, 12/3/10