L.A. Pottery Show on Feb. 4-5 goes gangbusters

By Kyle Husfloen – Antique Trader Editor At Large

Now in its sixth year, the Los Angeles Pottery Show had another exceptional run the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Held at the handsome Pasadena Center in the heart of the lovely city, more than 80 pottery dealers were on hand with wonderful displays. Although West Coast and California pottery was seen in abundance, there also was a strong representation of Midwestern and Eastern potteries. A great variety of Bauer, Roseville and Weller pieces were offered as well as fine examples of classic pots from the likes of Grueby, Hampshire, Saturday Evening Girls, Newcomb College and many more. English and European wares also were represented with fine pieces of Clarice Cliff, Doulton/Royal Doulton, Moorcroft and Amphora. Both American and European-made tiles were also found in abundance.

LAPottery1.jpgThe large display hall was filled with so many dazzling displays it took me some time to get accustomed to seeing so much pottery in one locale. All the booths were tastefully arranged and some were down right spectacular. Adding to my enjoyment was the fact that I met a number of dealers who I’ve worked with over the years. Of course, it was great fun to also meet many new folks and share our interest in the diverse world of ceramic art.

I had a chance to meet in person Steve Soukup of California Crazed, Van Nuys, Calif., who has been a contributor to some of my Antique Trader Price Guides in the past. Steve’s specialty is California-made tiles and he had copies of book, California Tile — The Golden Era, 1910-1940, on hand in his booth. I also had a nice visit in the booth of Bon Vivant of Palm Springs, Calif., where my friends and price guide contributors, James and Patrick, featured an especially nice display of California-made figurines. On view were pieces by Sascha Brastoff, Howard Pierce, Vernon Kilns, Marc Bellaire, Metlox, Bauer, Padre and more.

Another dramatic booth featured the products of Treasure Craft, a California pottery that operated from 1947 to 1995. Dealer and author George Higby of Seattle shared his expertise about the diverse range of Treasure Craft wares the began with cute Pixie figurines then evolved into wonderful 1950s figural pieces designed by Tony Guerrero. In later years, Treasure Craft became best known for its line of figural cookie jars and dinnerwares. Examples of all these were highlighted throughout this booth.

Pat and Dorothy Wagner, W-W Collectibles, Cambria, Calif., presented a fine selection of American art pottery with some especially nice pieces of Weller that caught my eye. Further along, I was attracted to a dramatic grouping of large early pieces of garden pottery from Gladding McBean. This was part of the booth of Roadside America where dealers Ted Birbilis and Sandy Raulston were on hand to share their expertise. These dealers have been doing this show since its inception and, in addition to setting up at shows, they also have a display at the Pasadena Antique Center.

I was also pleased to visit with dealers Meg Chalmers and Judy Young of Crones Collectibles who had traveled all the way from Brewster, Mass., to set up their display of fine Eastern art pottery including fine examples of Saturday Evening Girls wares and Hampshire Pottery.

Another treat for me was to see my longtime friend and associate Dave Rago and his partner, Suzanne Perrault, of New Jersey. Dave and I began our association back in 1975 when he first wrote a column for the Antique Trader weekly. Back then he was just getting his feet wet in the world of Art Pottery and today he’s one of the pillars of the American pottery community. He and Suzanne each presented a lecture during this show and were also on hand in their booth to offer appraisals of pottery with the proceeds benefiting the Newcomb College Art Gallery at Tulane University in storm-ravaged New Orleans.

Another highlight of this show was a wonderful display at the entry titled “A Woman’s Work,” curated by Bettie Dakotah and featuring a huge variety of pottery from her personal collection, all examples by talented female potters and designers. Also of interest was a display presented by The American Art Pottery Association titled “Fakes, Imposters & Reproductions.”

The crowds were huge during my whole afternoon at this show. I saw a lot of people cradling bags of treasures they had acquired here. All the dealers seemed pleased with the quality and success of this event. When asked, most didn’t seem to feel there was any special “trend” in the pottery-collecting field. Some noted that the best pieces of whatever line seem to be holding their market appeal while others noted that they were selling items in every price range from modest pieces under $50 to rarities in the thousands.

As I was leaving, I had a chance to visit with show producers Ken Stalcup and Dennis Warden and they concurred with my assessment that the crowds were heavy and sales were strong. They even reported that one dealer had already sold some $90,000 worth of pottery and this was just on the first day. That certainly confirms that the interest in ceramic wares is extremely strong and I’m sure all the folks who made this event such as success will be marking their calendars for the return engagement Sept. 30-Oct. 1.