Tag Archives: california pottery

Bullfrog Bookends

Bullfrog Bookends:  Ceramic.  Height 8 inches.  Contemporary.

Frogs have been frequent subjects for bookends since early times, probably because they are grotesque and interesting creatures.  These pottery frogs are not very remarkable, but they are big so we will call them bullfrogs.


Tags: , , ,

Tipsy Monk Bookends

Photo of Monk Bookends GMB

Tipsy Monk Book Ends: Ceramic. Height 7 inches. 1932. Inscription Gladding, McBean & Co. S.F. Cal. and the artist signature Theo. Tracy.

Presentations of monks are associated with objects made in the Arts and Crafts style, including bookends.  The monk is usually identified by his cowl.  Here is a pair of ceramic bookends with each bookend showing a monk sprawling on a huge book.  One apparently intoxicated  monk is facing us with a silly look on his face.  There is a chalice in his right hand with liquid draining from it.  The liquid is presumably wine and the silly expression indicates the monk has had too much of the tipple.  The other monk is leaning sideways with a distressed look on his face.  His look suggests concern for his supply of wine.

During the middle ages thousands of monasteries in Europe produced wine from their own vineyards for ceremonies, consumption, and sale.  Pairs of bookends showing monks like these, one facing forward and holding an empty cup and the other leaning to the side were popular early in the twentieth century.  Such bookends were issued by leading California potteries, including the Catalina Clay Products Co. and the Malibu Potteries, plus independent potters.  Click here to view the post and photo of the Malibu Potteries version from Oct. 7, 2013. All of these inebriated monk  bookends  are highly collectible today.
The pair shown here was issued by Gladding, McBean & Co in their “Semi-Porcelain” line and called “Monk Book Ends” in the 1932 company catalog.  The spine of the book reads “Gladding McBean & Co., S.F. Cal”. A quick search did not yield information about an artist named Theo. Tracy, whose name is inscribed on the back of the bookends.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Howard Pierce Bookends

Photo of Howard Pierce Bookends

Each bookend is 7.25 inches tall , 4.25 inches wide and 3.5 inches deep, made of heavy porcelain, Pierce’s name is cast into the bottom of the base.

This is a pair of bookends produced by the noted California artist and ceramicist Howard Pierce (1912 – 1994).  Most of Pierce’s sculptures are familiar as brown and tan birds and mammals. His raccoons and quail are highly collected.  These midcentury modern bookends show Pierce’s whimsical side which is usually seen only in private collections.  An exotic human face colored dark chocolate is topped by a brown speckled tan asymmetric bobbed hair style.

Howard Pierce is remembered by the Joshua Tree, California community where he spent the last 25 years of his life. Click here to read an article from the Twenty-Nine Palms Historical Society on Howard Pierce.


Tags: , , , ,

Bookends from Potter Studio

Bookends by Horace E. Potter of Ohio with tile manufactured by Ernest A. Batchelder in California.

Photo of Potter Studio Bookends with Batchelder Tile

Height 5.25 inches, width 5.25 inches, Length of foot behind the bookends 6.75 inches.  A long foot is usually associated with age.

Each of this pair of bookends is a figure ceramic tile by Batchelder in a bronze frame by Potter.

Photo of POTTER STUDIO stamp


Horace E. Potter (1873-1948) was a distinguished metal worker and jeweler, and is listed in Davenport’s and other listings for artists. Potter lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and his home became a center for artists and craftsmen in 1908. It was later called Potter Studio. He and his fellow craftsmen sometimes incorporated other craftspeople’s objects into their own work. Potter admired Batchelder’s tiles and made bookend sets utilizing Batchelder tiles. Potter fashioned spare but elegant close-fitting bronze frames for the Batchelder tiles, and the tiles are held in place by some sort of adhesive.The frames are marked Potter Studio with, in this case, a serial number.

Ernest A. Batchelder (1875-1957) is very well known as a pioneer in the American Arts and Crafts movement.  He was a renowned maker of ceramic art tiles and teacher of the pottery craft.  He began making tiles for sale from his backyard kiln in 1910 and by 1912 he moved to a business location in Pasadena California.  These bookend tiles are handmade, fired pottery in the early Arts and Crafts style.  The image is that of an an abstract oak tree bearing two (enlarged) acorns, with birds in the tree shown at each of the four corners.  Acorns, oak trees, and oak leaves became familiar naturalistic images used by artists of this genre.  This particular tile is pictured in the 1912 catalogue for the Batchelder Tile Company of Pasadena, and is identified only as number 67.

The above reprint of the 1912 Batchelder catalog of Plain and Figure Tiles can be obtained from Mr. Brian Kaiser at


Tags: , , ,

Malibu Potteries Bookends

Take a look at this fantastic pair of Arts & Crafts genre bookends made by the the short-lived Malibu Potteries sometime between 1926 and 1932.  They are to be coveted for artistic merit, subject matter and rarity.  We wish we had them in our collection.

Photo of Malibu Potteries Bookends

Private Collection,Image courtesy of Tile Heritage Foundation,Monk Bookends, Malibu Potteries,1926-32.

Joe Taylor, President of the Tile Heritage Foundation, shared this photo with The Bookend Collector. Thank you Mr Taylor.

Mr. Taylor is an acknowledged, internationally-known authority on California tile production.  He edited the comprehensive California Tile: The Golden Era 1910 – 1940 published by Schiffer Books, 2004.

Malibu Potteries was born of oil exploration on Rancho Malibu, a portion of the original Spanish Land Grant of 1802 known as Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit.  No oil of significance was found but substantial and quality clay deposits were located.  With these antecedents, products of the Malibu Potteries really fit the description of “Old California.”  The beauty and extent of the Malibu Potteries’ production can be appreciated by visiting the Adamson House in Malibu, California.

The tiled outdoor dog bath at the Adamson House usually provokes a desire for one’s own outdoor dog bath.  The view down the Southern California coast from the veranda is spectacular and includes a beautiful tiled fountain.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Golden Mission Bookends

Photo of Mission Bookend

Mission bookends, 9.5 inches tall, weight 5 pounds each.

We thought we were buying bookends that showed specific California Missions, but we were mistaken.

The bookend on the right has a number of Mission features:  four mission bells, a wooden door with huge strap hinges, an adobe brick wall covered with plaster, and a tile roof.  Unhappily, not any of the twenty-one California Missions closely match the appearance of this bookend.  It is a combination of features creating a beautifully  romanticized Mission bell tower,  although it is possible that it matches a Mission in Texas or Arizona.  However our research didn’t find one.

The bookend on the left has a partial identity.  The bell tower matches that of Mission San Diego de Alcala, but the staircase from the rear of the tower has been brought forward to the front, and the well and the path have been brought from an enclosed garden to the front of the bell tower.

Photo of Vernon Kilns plate depicting San Diego Mission.

San Diego de Alcala Mission and Bell Tower depicted on a Vernon Kilns plate circa 1940.

The Golden Mission bookends are marked Progressive Art Products, 1967.  Progressive Art Products of California, located in the Los Angeles area, produced decorative bookends in the 1960s and 70s.  All we have seen have been quite large, made of plaster, and very well painted.   We included a decorative pair of large Clown Heads and a patriotic pair of Heroic Eagles by this company in BOOKEND REVUE, published in 1996 by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.


Tags: , , , , , ,

CLAYCRAFT Pottery Bookends

Claycraft Potteries’ decorative tiles are highly sought-after remnants of the California pottery productions that epitomized the Spanish/Mexican Revival designs in the 1920s and 1930s.  The pottery operated from 1921 to 1939 at 3101 San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, about 20 miles south of the San Fernando Mission. The section written on Claycraft by Joseph A Taylor in California Tile: The Golden Era 1910 – 1940 credits George Robertson for much of the design work.

CLAYCRAFT California Mission Bookends.  Heavy ceramic.  6 inches in height.

CLAYCRAFT California Mission Bookends. Heavy ceramic. 6 inches in height.

This bookend pair by Claycraft depicts the most iconic features of the Southern California Missions, San Juan Capistrano’s Bell Wall and San Fernando Rey de Espana’s Fountain.  These Missions were rescued and restored during the early part of the 20th century and by the mid-1920s were significant tourist destinations.

San Juan Capistrano is the third mission in the string of missions from San Diego to Sonoma, California.  It is internationally known for the “Return of the Swallows” on St. Joseph’s Day in March each year.  The bookend shows the bell wall where the bells were hung after the December 8, 1812 earthquake which killed 40 Native Americans as the great stone church collapsed.  Today the grounds of the mission are beautifully landscaped and it is one of the most visited sites in California.  You can watch the bells being rung to celebrate the swallow’s return by clicking here.

San Fernando Rey de Espana Mission is located in the northern section of Los Angeles‘ San Fernando Valley.  It is an active Catholic Church today.  The fountain seen on the bookend is probably the fountain from the central courtyard.  There are two fountains on the property and it is difficult to determine from the old photographs which fountain is represented here. Both fountains were photographed by Henry F. Withey during the 1936 Historic American Buildings Survey.

There is no Claycraft mark on these bookends yet they are easily recognizable.  This particular pair have “HENRY KRIER, TILE CONTRACTOR, MONROVIA” impressed into the clay.  According to Taylor “…. Claycraft Tiles were promoted successfully through established tile contractors and design showrooms….”  So it makes sense that Henry Krier, a noted designer and installer of decorative tile works in southern California, would have had one or more of these sets of bookends available in his Monrovia showroom or would have used them as promotional gifts.  The full article, “The Legacy of Henry Krier: A Contractor In Contrasts” by Lynn A. Downey, in the July-September 1989 issue of FLASH POINT, The Quarterly Bulletin of the Tile Heritage Foundation is available from the Tile Heritage Foundation.


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: