Hi everyone. How was your thrifting week? We came away with fewer things of interest, considering the number of stores visited. However, it's always nice to be able to get out there. I even ran into a few "in real life" friends who I had no idea liked thrifting. Might try meet up with them on a future thrift run.

One of the great things about thrifting is that in addition to looking for vintage items for the shop, we can also look for everyday things we need around the house. We were in need of a stapler, so I had to grab this older Pilot #402 by the Ace Fastener Co. of Chicago. Nice, simple all-metal construction, and works great! I'm not sure if this would be something for the shop yet - I guess we'll just use it for the meantime.

I've been passing up a lot of LPs designs lately - usually it's due to condition or price. There's a strict "less than $2" mandate in place for the most part - though I keep breaking that rule. This nice Sam Suliman design on a cover for a Tchaikovsky record was the only item that came home with me from a recent estate.

This was a great find from earlier in the week. Rather rare to find these Russel Wright designed Knowles pieces around here. I've never seen them in thrifts, in fact. Actually, I believe these are difficult to find pretty much anywhere - the dinnerware lines weren't very successful. From the RW collector's books, it appears there were manufacturing problems, and the patterns (ours is called Queen Anne's Lace) were too delicate and hard to photograph for catalogs. I'd found a single cup at the thrift first, which was unmarked. But I knew I'd seen the shape somewhere before (I thought it might be Eva Zeisel at first), so I searched around until I found the rest of the cups and saucers. The saucers had the Russel Wright Knowles stamp.

Being on the West Coast, we've encountered Pacific Stoneware quite a few times previously. Not to be confused with Pacific Pottery (as in Pacific Clay Producs), this was Bennett Welsh's Oregon-based company. Their stuff still flies under the radar for the most part - there just isn't a whole lot of value there yet. I still pick up nicer pieces, like this interesting conical windchime. I think it needs the string replaced, but it still has the terra cotta clanger attached on the inside.

M.A. Hadley is similar to Pacific Stoneware in that it often flies under the radar, and its value can vary considerably. Actually, the Louisville, KY company is still producing these distinctive handpainted items today. There are more collectors of Hadley, though, so we keep an eye out for pieces like this egg cup that are inexpensive.

This vibrant Peter Max for Iroquois China butterfly ashtray was a complete surprise. I'd only heard of other people finding his designs - had never seen them in thrifts myself. Peter Max might be better known for his groovy art posters and LP designs - if you see one of his designs, you'll recognize the style right away. This is unfortunately another ashtray, but I relaxed my "no-more-ashtrays" rule for this one.

As usual, I've saved the (potentially) best and most interesting item for last. At the store where I found the Peter Max ashtray, I noticed this vase sitting up on the shelf. I picked it up, and then put it down, because it seemed at first like it could be a modern production.

However, something really nagged me about it... I think fellow pickers may know this feeling. It's like an itch, a hunch, that something very unassuming might be worth quite a bit more. Some of our best items have been discovered in this way.

In the end, I went back to buy it... it wasn't dirt cheap, and it seemed to have a bit of damage on the handle. But what I figured was that I'd already scored the Peter Max piece at such a cheap price that I could use it to offset the cost of this one if it wasn't valuable. And after looking at it again, it definitely didn't seem to be a cheaper, new production from overseas. It had the "finger rings" on inside and out, and didn't seem to have any cast or mold lines.

When I got home, I immediately went to look through some of the California Pottery books that we have. I felt like I'd seen the shape before - I was thinking Bauer, Pacific, Gladding or maybe even Panama Pottery.

Well - I discovered almost immediately that this vase looked a whole lot like a Matt Carlton Rebekah vase for Bauer. In that case, it would certainly be a great find - I've seen Rebekah vases selling for $1500-2000...

However. I've got more than a few reservations about this vase. For one - I know that Matt Carlton pieces are absolutely NOT common. You just don't walk into a thrift store and find a piece of Carlton Bauer sitting on the shelf. And I know that because they aren't marked, (as far as I know) that it's easy to misattribute pieces. The temptation is there - everyone WANTS to find something valuable at the thrift.

Also, even though the shape is VERY similar to a 10 inch Rebekah vase, and the base is unglazed and unmarked, similar to items that he was known for... I know that quite a few companies (and not only California ones) produced this shape.

The vase also has a slight "tilt" to the shape. Carlton was a master potter - and it didn't seem like he would make a mistake like that. Hard to see in the photo, but one side is definitely a bit higher than the other.

Perhaps most concerning to me is the glaze. As far as I know, this multi-color yellow brown and green drip glaze doesn't look at all like something Bauer was known for. I do know they used polychrome treatment in the early days, but this one doesn't look anything like it. I think they also used multicolor glazes at times, but I'm not really familiar with those - I think a lot of those might've also been test pieces.

In any case - this vase is still a bit of a mystery. If you might know more about these type of vases, I'd appreciate if you could leave a comment. At this point, I've very much on the fence about whether this is authentic (we're familiar enough with Bauer and actually run the Potteries of California website, but can't claim to be experts). But it was a fun find either way, and definitely made the usual thrifting run interesting.

  1. d r e w Says:

    nice finds! i had that feeling about a vase i found once and ended up buying it. i wasn’t sure it was vintage. after doing some research, i discovered it was a blenko piece from 1959.

  2. The Thriftaholic (Leilani) Says:

    Learned some more new information as per usual while reading one of your thrift haul posts– I never realized Peter Max did homewares! I’m not a fan of ashtrays either but would have made an exception for that one.

    I have a very similar stapler to yours, since it was made in Chicago I find them fairly regularly around here! :)

  3. Nostalgic in Maine Says:

    Great post, as usual, even thought there were no Scandinavian pieces this time around ;-)

  4. Vintage Scapes Says:

    Fun fun fun album cover! I’ve never seen that line of RW, pretty cool! Awesome score with the Peter Max, I’ve only ever found a scarf of his but I left it behind because it was lightly stained. It still hurts. As for the possible Rebekah vase, it would be sweet if it was. Good luck on the research!

  5. Erin Says:

    ah! I’ve been on the lookout for russel wright’s knowles pieces for-ever. great finds! so glad i found your blog!

  6. Karen G Says:

    Wonderful items. Completely adore the Russell Wright pieces.

  7. SixBalloons Says:

    Interesting stuff! Do you have a local resource you could attend to in order to authenticate it if your research is exhausted?

  8. Van Says:

    It’s almost always worth it to go with your gut while hunting. Especially when you’re on the line, trying to decide for a while or when you end up going back for the item. I always sell these items pretty quickly!

    Wish I could offer you some clues on the vase, it’s a really interesting piece!

  9. BeckyKay Says:

    Those teacups are so pretty!! Great find!

  10. A La Modern Says:

    @drew – that “hunch-feeling” has led to some great finds for us too!

    @thriftaholic – I actually only found out about Peter Max houseware stuff like this in last year or so. This is the first one I’ve seen at thrift. Oh, incidentally, you had an earlier post on your blog with a cobalt creamer. In case you haven’t found out, it’s by Hazel Atlas… look up “Chevron creamer” and you’ll see some. I found your same creamer a few years ago at thrift.

    @nostalgic – I would love it if we could find the Scandi pieces every time too! =)

    @vintagescapes – It’s looking like it might indeed be Bauer Rebekah. I may need to talk to someone about it…

    @erin, karenG, BeckyKay – I’m really happy to have found them too. Never seen the Knowles stuff before

    @sixballoons – I don’t really know anyone locally who could authenticate on Calif Pottery. Although, Jack Chipman is quite nice about answering mail. I don’t like to bother him though if I can avoid it, as I’m sure he gets so many querries about pottery. I was considering taking it to the LA Pottery show next year!

    @van – I agree, that gut needs to be paid attention too. I’ve ignored gut feelings too much in the past, and paid the price w/ missing on rare or expensive goodies! It’s a toughie though, especially when things are not a buck or two, or if they’re damaged.

  11. the home tome Says:

    Just discovered your site while googling Hanova enamelware – my mother just gave me a big blue double candle holder by him that she had hanging on our deck in the 70′s.

    Anyway, love the items in your store and your blog. Cheers from New York!