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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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Among collectors, vibrantly colored California pottery is one of the most popular collecting disciplines of the last ten years, and perhaps none is as highly desired as Bauer Pottery. The story of Bauer didn't begin in California however, but rather in Paducah, Kentucky where J. Andy Bauer ran a ceramics factory which manufactured stoneware crocks, jugs, whiskey jugs, and pitchers. During the early years, the factory evolved to produce an ever more decorative  variety of kitchenware and inexpensive ceramics for the home such as redware versions of the crocks, jugs, and pitchers produced earlier but also decorative vases, a popular line of flower pots, milk jugs, mixing bowls, and other utilitarian pieces common in American homes. Bauer's work was sold mostly in the Midwest from his base in Kentucky, for cost effective transcontinental distribution networks were still in their infancy. Sensing the limitations of this geographic dependency and thinking the California climate would be beneficial to his asthma, Andy Bauer opened a second manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, California in 1909. This was an area similar to the Zanesville area of Ohio, where there were groupings of talented potters and designers to draw upon. Los Angeles had the benefit of being the western terminus of the transcontinental rail lines, but it also offered inspiration in the emerging American Arts & Crafts movement. Bauer produced designs reflecting this new design aesthetic, and in 1916 they introduced a new line of hand thrown art pottery mostly in a matte green glaze reminiscent of Grueby ceramics. As California grew, so did Bauer pottery which sold their wares both at retail as well as wholesale to garden centers and nurseries. 

After Andy Bauer died and was succeeded by Louis Ipsen, Ipsen designed the Bauer Ringware line, incorporating concentric circles, or "rings", into a form that could be mass produced and sold at modest prices. Ringware was sold in a vibrant rainbow of colors and contrasted markedly from primarily white dinnerware common during the period and reminiscent of colorful Fiestaware which followed 7 years later and was designed by Frederick H. Rhead for the Homer Laughlin Company. Bauer pioneered innovations in glazing and ceramics manufacturing which they used to create the vibrant colors of Ringware, capitalizing on the talents of engineer Victor Houser who joined the firm in 1928 and revolutionized  Bauer manufacturing techniques. They produced hundreds of pieces to complement any table setting including plates and bowls of various sizes, cookie jars, oil jars, pitchers, teapots, mixing bowls, and table accessories. Many talented artists and designers created lines for Bauer over the years, with the most famous lines in addition to Ringware being Russel Wright, Fred Johnson, Speckleware, Monterey, Matt Carlton, Tracy Irwin, Gloss Pastel, Atlanta, Garden Ware, and Cal Art. 

Bauer survived the years of the depression where many other early 20th century manufacturers did not, maintaining tight cost controls and efficient production methods to be able to price their wares affordably. The Bauer lines and innovation blossomed in the 1930s with their California lines, most of which incorporated textural variation with natural glazes in all the colors of the rainbow. Bauer pottery was noteworthy for its design but also sturdy in form, making it perfect for both indoor use as well as outdoor picnics and gatherings. In the 1940s, Bauer opened a plant in Atlanta, Georgia where art pottery for their famous Russell Wright line was produced. Bauer had many imitators  which are now collected in their own right such as Metlox and Vernon Kilns, but Fiesta achieved the most success of all through the marketing savvy of Homer Laughlin. Only about 50% of Bauer pottery was marked, so there are a number of pieces on the market which are period authentic but unmarked. There are also a significant number of reproductions, but Bauer is easily recognizable to dealers familiar with their work. Marks they used included "Bauer" and "Bauer Los Angeles" used in the 20s and earlier and "Bauer Made in USA" or "Bauer USA" on works produced in the 1930s.

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Buy period Bauer Pottery, Franciscan, Hull, Weller, Roseville, Rookwood, Frankoma, Van Briggle, Fiestaware, Metlox, and more on the Collectics Pottery and Kitchenware pages, or search the entire site for great antiques, collectibles, and crafts for every collector!

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Collector's Guide to Bauer Pottery Kovels' American Art Pottery: The Collector's Guide to Makers, Marks, and Factory Histories
Art Deco: 1910-1939
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