A wonderfully rare piece of old California tile. This wall tile, or ashtray stand measures 6 x 6. Made by the Spanish Pottery & Tile Company during the late 1920s. Most of their production can be found at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley. Many feel that this particular pottery was set up to just make the bulk of the tiles needed to tile the castle. These tiles generally depict the Columbus-Spanish era themes: sea monsters, peasants and birds of all kind. The kitchen at Scotty’s Castle is covered in these scenic tiles.
The Spanish Pottery (circa 1927-1931): its name alone evokes a romantic, old-world charm likely chosen to capitalize on the Mediterranean designs widespread in California; but of its history, much still remains a mystery. Along with Gladding McBean, Hispano Moresque and Alhambra Kilns this company was among the major suppliers of handcrafted tile outfitting the Death Valley ranch of Albert Johnson, now popularly known as Scotty’s Castle . How did an obscure tile company achieve this notable measure of success?
Manufacturers of plain and decorative glazed wall tile, red ware flooring tiles, ventilator tiles and specialties, The Spanish Pottery was located at 3959 Goodwin Avenue in Los Angeles, just west of Glendale. A tiny white stucco-clad and tile accented building remained on the site until recently: an abandoned witness to the past, lone amidst modern industry. The company’s primary decorative product consisted of a series of red clay paver tiles and inserts, diverse to size and shape. The paver tiles appear to have their designs stamped by hand onto a wet clay slab before being cut into individual tiles; this could account for the characteristic “soft look” or lack of crisp mold definition frequently observed. The depressed designs were then inlaid with single or polychrome glazes. Finely decorated scenic tiles were commissioned including a tile panel series entitled El Miraje for a drinking fountain at Scotty’s Castle. Similarly reminiscent of Spanish or Mexican folk pottery and executed in painterly fashion, small four-sided flowerpots were also produced along with large smoking stand tiles fitted to wrought iron bases. In absence of any large installations credited to The Spanish Pottery, exclusive of scattered installations at Scotty’s Castle, it is presumed that the small enterprise had limited production, which prematurely ended with the impending economic depression.