A Bauer Pottery classic: 8 Chicken of the Sea tuna bakers — NOS — what a catch!

But are they really Bauer? A controversy!

vintage-tuna-bakers- chicken of the seaHere’s the catch of the day — a school of wonderful oddities — 8 vintage Bauer Pottery Chicken of the Sea Tuna Bakers, New Old Stock (NOS) still in their original boxes. Reader Jocelyn — thank you, J! — tipped Pam off to this prime fishin’ spot on Ebay — where you can reel in enough tuna bakers to serve individual tuna casseroles at your next dinner party. But the pretty fish are gonna cost you…

8-vintage-tuna-bakersEbay seller wandermum was kind enough to let us feature these great photos from her ebay listing for our forever-archive of wonderful midcentury oddities:

{expired auction}

tuna-bakers-and-pamphlettuna-bakers-original-boxI initially started doing some research on Bauer Pottery for this story, when I was confronted by a controversy! It seems that there is some dispute about who actually manufactured these tuna bakers for Chicken of the Sea. Some swear it was Bauer Pottery, some think Homer Laughlin picked up production because the glaze colors seem to match their Fiesta ware line, and others like decolady — who has used these tuna bakers to make a lovely table setting on her blog, which features some great information about these pieces and the matching salt and pepper shakers — conclude they must be manufactured by Hollydale Pottery because many of the salt and pepper shakers that have been found still in the original boxes are postmarked Hollydale, CA — the location of Hollydale Pottery. Unfortunately, There isn’t much information to be found on Hollydale Pottery — a fire in 1952 forced the company to stop production and destroyed a large amount of their pottery stock.

tuna-baker-makers-markI’ve contacted Homer Laughlin and heard from Dave Conely — the same friendly contact that helped me in my story about Fiesta ware — who has assured me that these pieces were never produced by the Homer Laughlin Company. I also have a query in to Bauer Pottery to try and clear up this confusion once and for all and will update the story when I hear back from them regarding this issue. Perhaps some of the pieces were made by Bauer Pottery and others — like the salt and pepper shakers — were made by Hollydale?

vintage-tuna-bakers-box

tuna-bakers-in-boxI’ve also found some vintage ads featuring these tuna bakers on jitterbuzz.com as well as a matching platter — seems like there was a whole series of this stuff! The silver rings on the bottom of the tuna bakers act as stands to help protect hot-from-the-oven tuna casseroles needing a trivet.

8-vintage-tuna-bakers

Whoever produced these tuna bakers, one thing is for sure — their range of colors, playful pose and usefulness makes them a great woddity to collect and display — might be well worth the 495 clams — even if you aren’t a fan of tuna salad, hot or cold. 😉

Tuna-Bakers-Ad-1941Tuna-Plates-Ad-1941

 

Above: Mega thanks to reader Ann for sending in these vintage tuna bakers ads from 1941! If only we could still use those order forms.

UPDATE: I heard back from Bauer and they have scoured their records — they did not make the tuna bakers! Robert Takata from Bauer Pottery Company writes:

Hi Kate,

We’ve heard that they both were and were not manufactured by Bauer.  We’ve also heard that they were manufactured by Bauer as well as some other pottery or potteries.

To the best of our knowledge, they were not made by Bauer.  None of the research we’ve done show any evidence that Bauer was the manufacturer of the tuna bakers.  Bauer did make a much larger fish shaped cookie jar and that may have created some initial confusion that carried on throughout the years.  The colors are also similar to Bauer colors of the time, but again, the brightly glazed California style pottery was very popular and there were other manufactures glazing similar colors.

If you want to dig deeper into this mystery, you might try contacting Jack Chipman or Mitch Tuchman, each of whom published very good books on Bauer pottery.

I know it’s not much, but I hope it helps.

Best wishes,

Rob

I had already contacted Jack Chipman, who recently replied:

Kate,
The Chicken of the Sea items were produced by Hollydale not Bauer.  Bauer did not produce premium items.
Jack

So there you have it folks — Chicken of the Sea items were produced by Hollydale pottery in California. Mystery solved!

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. Ann says

    I might be able to help you out. I have some old magazines (Sunset? BHG? House Beautiful?) where I saw the ad for these, and I believe it mentioned the manufacturer. They were quasi-give aways at the time (eg., send in X tuna labels and $X for shipping and we will send you one). I can’t look right now, but will over the weekend. I recall seeing the ad and thinking how cool it would be to get a few. I will update the comment over the weekend.

    • pam kueber says

      YES! You can email the image to me at retrorenovation[at]gmail[dot]com, or — add it via Friday’s uploader and I can grab it thataway. THANK YOU!

      • Ann says

        Curiosity got the best of me and I found it – in the very last Sunset in the stack (Sept. 1940). Unfortunately, they are cagey about the manufacturer. All it says is “California Pottery” and “A $1.25 Value says Pottery Manufacturer.” Another giveaway for a different food product indicated that their “incentive” plates were Vernonware. Anyway, I’ll scan and e-mail this ad and another (for a fish plate) shortly.

        • Janet says

          I collect Metlox and I was gonna guess it was made by them. I have never seen this fish and thought it looked like Metlox!

          • Ann says

            Janet – After a lot of Googling, I was going to suggest that too. The colors look very similar to the Metlox I found online and per one collector website, Metlox issued pottery beginning in 1932 marked “California Pottery” before changing their mark. Metlox also did a number of fish. Per the Art Deco Lady link in the post above, she believed there were multiple manufacturers, so I couldn’t say for sure. The Metlox plant in Manhattan Beach wasn’t far from the Van Camp Terminal Island cannery, but Hollydale in Harbor City was even closer.

            • Jocelyn W. says

              I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there were multiple manufacturers. In reading up about California pottery within the last year or so, I remember coming across the factoid that manufacturers basically stole designs from each other by taking a finished item and making a mold from it.

  2. Suzanne says

    This caught my attention since my mom lived in Hollydale for a time and I worked not too far from there. I did a bit of reading on the town, which was pretty interesting. I found a cool website, which gives a brief history of Bauer, Hollydale and Metlox.

    http://www.calpotteries.com

  3. Robin says

    I noticed that a zip code is not used on the address on the box. From my research in the past, zip codes were first used in 1944. So, this pottery could be from the earlier 1940’s or older! WoW! What a find!

  4. Daphne says

    Hello. Here’s the link to the collector’s favorite piece of documentation that at least some of these were made by Hollydale pottery:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/krakencrafts/2694571028/

    I have a blog post about the plates in colored glazed if you’d like to see more of the plates:

    http://tabletoptime.blogspot.com/2011/03/gone-fishin.html

    The Little Round Table also has a great selection of ephemera on these lovely pieces:

    http://www.thelittleroundtable.com/2011/03/fish-are-jumping.html

    Thanks so much for sharing the auction link. It’s a treat to see these NIB!

    Best,

    Daphne

  5. Dale says

    How wonderful to see this. I have had a set of 4 for close to 15 years and never had any information about them. I just always thought they were really cute.

  6. ELK says

    I have always been told and read that they are Bauer. Replacements dot com sites Bauer as the manufacturer. The people who run Bauer now are super awesome but, they are not the people who ran it in the fifties. Bauer now is missing most of the the old molds and rely on collectors for the history of the old factories as most of the actual files and molds were gone when they bought the brand. If you are ever in LA be sure to attend one of their warehouse sales. I took my mom one time when I was visiting SoCal and now she and my sister are regulars at the sales. My teen daughter even enjoyed the sale!

    I personally have six fish in yellow and two sets of the salt and pepper shakers also in yellow. They are the cutest! Wish I had the bank to buy this set! Then I could serve tuna casserole to an entire dinner party!

    http://www.replacements.com/webquote/BAECHS.htm

  7. David says

    Hi!

    With reference to zip codes, there is some misinformation here. Zip codes were not used in the 1940’s. The poster may be thinking of the codes embedded in the addresses along the lines of “New York 1, N.Y.”, etc. That number, a postal zone number, had a purpose similar to zip codes but was not a zip code as we now think of them. The original 5 digit zips came into use in 1963. I remember; I was around then! Most people were cooperative, but it took some time for everyone to get on board. The US Post Office had a campaign to encourage people to use the codes; one slogan was “Zip codes–the last word in mail address!” which may not be suitable for a family friendly blog.

    In any case, zip codes or their lack are an indication of something being 1950’s or before (zip code = after 1963, no zip code = probably 1950’s or before), not prior to the 1940’s.

    Of course, the ads for the COTS bakers are definitive evidence that they were offered in the very late 1930’s and the 1940’s.

    Cheers, all.

  8. Ann says

    Can you explain why the stamps on the bottom of the tuna bakers varies? Some look really slick and some look like they were almost done by hand. Thanks
    Annie B

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