Although it’s likely that the vases, novelties and dinnerware items occupying your shelves are every day household brands, such as Fiesta, Hull, McCoy, Roseville and Bauer, there may be a piece hidden among these well-known names that is obscure and has value. 

From the late 1800s through the 1960s there were more than 1,500 studio potters who have some degree of merit. There were an additional 150 potters who opened up shop and kiln in California from 1930 to 1960. This means pottery abounds and so do collections and collectors. Well-heeled buyers place a premium on art pottery over industrial pottery.   

Paul Revere Pottery from Massachusetts is well-known for the work of the “Saturday Evening Girls” (stamped as S.E.G. on their pottery) as the group was called during the early 20th century.  The group comprised immigrant women who showed talent for fine art of form and decoration.  If you happen to have the chrysanthemum vase on your top shelf, you have the most expensive and sought-after piece of art pottery from this potter. Possessing this piece in good condition would surely make you a star on an episode of the Antiques Road Show.  

Us common folks are more likely to have some seemingly insignificant novelty figurine that filtered its way on to the shelf from a long ago trip to California during the 1950s. To mention just a couple of early pottery factories does not do justice to the great wealth of items that poured forth from our western neighbor. However, Brayton Laguna and Brad Keeler are two that might be in your grasp. 

Brayton was founded in the late 1920s and specialized in a number of ethnic and whimsical figures that caught the eye of tourists:  Swedish, Chinese, hillbillies, storybook characters and pirates all found their way to the potter’s imagination.  Values can range from $35 up to more than $500. 

Keeler’s items usually feature birds, especially cranes, flamingos, swans and pheasants.  Since retro is in, a Keeler Flamingo is a hot item on today’s buyers’ wish lists. These pieces can fetch anywhere from $90 on up to $650 if you have the right buyer for that special bird. 

Today retro styling is in the driver’s seat.  Fiesta has been on the reproduction list for more than a decade and consequently, the values have dropped on all the pieces except the rare and the original such as carafes, vases, and other early 1930s and 1940s pieces.  

So, if you have that demitasse set with the single-handled cups, dust it with care! 

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