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Florence Ceramic Company

florence ceramics company


Florence Ceramics, also known as Florence of California, was based in Pasadena California. In 1940, the founder and artist, Florence Ward, lost her son Jack to a fatal blood disease. To cope with her loss she joined a hobby class at the Franklin School for pottery and began to produce semi-porcelain figurines in her garage.

Already a skilled artist on paper, Florence also proved to be a skilled sculptor. When the manager of the studio saw her work he hired her as an assistant and it was during this time when she learned a lot tricks and trades of the craft.

After her son got a Marine posting and her husband Clifford went for government service to Utah in 1942 Florence combatted her loneliness by throwing herself into her craft . It was during this time that Florence Ceramics was born.

As a part of her approach to her art Florence researched costumes of historical periods, works of art, and turned her hobby into a very profitable company.  The fanciest of her figurines were draped in elegant lace and were always true to form and shape and their costumes were researched by Florence herself; often she painted copies of famous artwork in museums as to ensure that the costumes were true to history. What makes her figurines so wonderful are the tiny details: delicate fingers, thin flower petals and leaves, ringlets of hair, and lace accents to name a few.In 1949 the company moved to from the garage into a modern 10,000 square foot facility in Pasadena. Florence Ceramics pieces are held the highest of standards for quality as each piece was personally inspected after it was produced. The employees of the Florence Ceramics Company adored the Ward Family and were treated as family members, and their pride in perfection further raised the reputation of the company.

And as the popularity of Florence Ceramics figurines grew, representatives from all over western Europe came to the US and met with Florence to learn from her techniques. For example, it is believed that Florence Ceramics was the first to use china spray paint finishes.

Florence Ceramics created colorful figurines, boxes, candle holders, and other items for the gift shop trade. The best-known figurines by far were men and women in nineteenth-century clothing. Each piece was marked with an ink stamp that included the name Florence Ceramics Co. In addition, many of the pieces had names (see picture) and different color variations. For example, Elizabeth is sometimes blonde instead of brunette.

As with all of the great mid-century pottery companies of the time, Florence Ceramics pieces were copied by mass producers. The Ward family had to actually initiate a lawsuit to stop the influx of inferior copies; however, in the end, the flood of cheap imitations into the market could not be stopped completely and Florence found it increasingly difficult to compete in the marketplace.

In 1964, following the death of the her husband, Clifford Ward, the company was sold to Scripto.