Vintage Pomona Tile View-Master reels — Mike’s collection of 60 scans from 10 reels

vintage View-Master ReelIn the 1950s and 1960s, Pomona Tile was super chic. Reader Mike is a fan — and today we share some of the photos from his wonderful collecton View-Master reels showcasing Pomona Tile in residential and commercial kitchens, bathrooms and decor — 60 scans from 10 reels, including reels illustrating the Pomona Tile ‘Distinguished Designer” series that featured designs by Paul McCobb, Millard Sheets, Dorothy Liebes, Saul Bass and Paul Laszlo. Fabulous vintage tile — captured in fabulous vintage media, yum.

Pam scored a set of these Pomona Tile recipe tiles on ebay a while back! They are out there, peoples!

Mike contacted Pam to let us know about his collection. He has 10 of these Pomona Tile View-Master reels — from a series of what that he believes numbers 16. Mike digitized 60 images from the Reel and shared them with the retrosphere via Flickr.

We asked Mike to tell us how he got started with his Pomona Tile collection. He sent us a fabulous story — so much information that we will use it for a followup. Meanwhile, here’s how he got started:

Long-time girlfriend and Fiance’ Jodi and I like to visit thrift stores, junk stores and antique malls.  We have an affection for Mid-Century Modern as we are both children of the 1950’s and 1960’s. We have been talking about buying or building or remodeling one of our houses and want to include some MCM elements in it.

While in the Rivermarket Mall in downtown Kansas City just looking around – Jodi (who is noticeably shorter than I am at 6’1”) identified a big box of 4” tile.  I would never have noticed it as it was way back underneath a table against the wall – but being short has its’ advantages and that is what started the whole thing.

pomona tile potpourriI liked the tile – had interesting pictures of pots and pans, and other tiles had recipes on them. We had not seen them before so I took pictures, but was not willing to pay the price for a couple of hundred tile pieces as our storage areas were getting pretty full.

We went home, and that night I studied what I had found.  I could not have done this without the internet and others who cared enough to post their information!  This was the Paul Laszlow “Potpourri” pattern from the Pomona Tile Distinguished Designer Series.  I was absolutely fascinated!  I decided to go back to the A-Mall and buy the tiles, and slipped away from work over lunch – make a rocket run and determined that they were GONE.  Then I figured out I was in the wrong aisle and life got a lot better!!  AND – it was some percentage off on the whole booth that day and they cost LESS!

[Mike’s story will continue with how his fascination grew….leading to his collection.]

Thanks, Mike for sharing. Don’t we all recognize this collecting pattern? We do! As we said above, there’s more to Mike’s story — we’ll do a followup next week.

About Pomona Tile

I did a little research to see what I could find about the Pomona Tile Company and discovered this blurb about the history of the company from TileHeritage.org:

Pomona Tile was founded in 1923 by Judson Clark and was acquired within its first year by R.J. Schroeder, who maintained the offices and factory at Third and Reservoir Streets in Pomona, California. The company specialized initially in unglazed ceramic mosaics, but by the end of the decade both ceramic floor and wall tiles were produced. The height of production came in the mid-1950s when Drew Schroeder took over the reins from his father. But competition was intense, and despite the broadening of its product lines, the company began losing its grip by the early-sixties. American Olean acquired Pomona in 1966 providing the backing and leadership to introduce Pomona Stone and the colorful Caribbean line. AO sold the company to Huntington Tile in 1976, ending over 50 years of Pomona tile production.

Mike believes the View-Master reels were from the 1950s or 1960s, which we believe coincide with the height of the Pomona Tile Company and the time when they were trying to broaden their product lines to compete with other tile makers.

pomona-tile-kitchen-retroThese photos are so much fun to see — especially for the creative ways tile was used in residential settings — like the slanted tile island in this kitchen.

retro-pink-bathroomThis pink bathroom has a gorgeous tile countertop, and what is really fabulous is the special tiles used to rim the sink.

retro-midcentury-tile-kitchen-counterAnother special tile — in a beveled shape — was used on this kitchen countertop to ensure that water and gunk was not trapped in the corner between the countertop and backsplash. Genius if you ask me. Plus, I love the tiled windowsill planter.

retro-tile-divider-pomona-tileAmong the Viewmaster images are a few from the ‘Distinguished Designer” series, a special collaboration that Pomona Tile did with designers such as Paul McCobb, Millard Sheets, Dorothy Liebes, Saul Bass and Paul Laszlo. The resulting tiles were quite unlike anything else on the market at the time and for the purpose of these View-Master photos, were used in unexpected ways, such as the tile room divider above made from Paul McCobb’s “Roulette” tiles. Fabulous! Just fabulous!

retro-decorative-pomona-tileYou can read more about Pomona Tiles’ Distinquised Designer series on Paul McCobb enthusiast Jonathan Goldstein’s blog post, featuring several ads, scans of his tile collection and other images he’s gathered about this line of Pomona Tiles. Pam says she thinks she has a Pomona Tile brochure in her hoard collection — she’s gonna dig through and see if we can do a followup.

Pomona tiles come up for sale occasionally on Ebay and Etsy, and are great collector’s items or that perfect finishing touch for a kitchen backsplash or bathroom accent. Mega thanks to Mike for letting us feature some of his collection of Pomona Tile View-Master reels. Followup with more of his story to come!

See all of Mike’s Pomona Tile View-Master reels here:

More on Pomona Tile:

  1. Bonnie Peterson says:

    We haver a bathroom counter tiled with Pomona Tile. The house was built in 1975. We rented the house and the renters lost 3 bullnose moss green tiles. We found one but need the other two. (Three would be better.) Does anyone know where we could find these bullnose tiles?

  2. Carla says:

    I just picked up a framed Pomona tile and would like some information about it if anyone can help. The tile is 6×6 and set in a nice deep wooden frame a brushed gold finish. It is stamped POMONA on the back and madi in USA. Below that is a 4C on the left and a 2 on the right. The picture on the front is of 2 boys seated with one eating what looks to be an apple slice. He has short pants and no shoes. Their clothes seem to be medieval style. There is a basket of yellow apples and other root vegetables in front of them as well as a yellow dog and what looks like a loaf of bread wrapped in a cloth. It is a rough edged circular picture in the center of the tile.

    Does anyone know anything about the tile? I’m very curious.

  3. Carol says:

    My parent were the ones who made the tile for Pomona tile. The jewel tile was my mothers design. It’s very cool to see these again.

  4. Mark Zagorski says:

    Hi all – I am Mark – I have a 1953 home in northern california with two bathrooms of the coolest Pomona Tile! I would love to find the sea foam green 4×6 tiles. I have some gray extras. The finish is a satin – absolutely the coolest.

  5. Chris Horychata says:

    I just wanted to post a comment and say how entertaining and informative I found it to read your website. We were fortunate enough to find an entire lot of George Nelson Pomona tiles that had never even been set. They’re just so happen to be enough to complete our entire kitchen backsplash!!!!! We found these while shopping at a vintage tile store in Los Angeles called Wells on Sunset Blvd. as an individual who has nothing but vintage furniture lamps and materials in my mid century home, finding this lot of Nelson tiles was like hitting a goldmine!!! The tiles are exquisite and lend an ambience to the house that is remarkable.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thanks for the nice comment, Chris. Wow, what a score!!!! Note: Be aware that old tiles (and new ones, too, apparently) may contain vintage nastiness such as lead; so be sure to work with a pro before installation to determine what’s in the materials you are working with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle. Read more and get to more links about this issue and others on our Be Safe / Renovate Safe page.

  6. Patty says:

    I have some vintage Pomona tile that I can not find any where It is a green and bright orange floral design –any help would be appreciated. I can send a pic through my email.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Patty, we are not experts on any particular kind of tile. Not sure where to send you…

  7. Dana says:

    I recently purchased some Pomona tiles with construction cartoons on them. The artist is VIP. Do you know anything about them or when there are from?

    1. pam kueber says:

      No, I don’t — very cool, though. Do you want to send me photos – perhaps I can post them. See Contact form at the bottom of the page.

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