Today, I stopped by an estate sale because remaining items were half-price. I picked up a few items I knew friends would like, and then I shopped for myself. In a detached garage, I rifled through a pile of dusty items in a basket and unearthed a lovely diminutive glass pitcher, hand-blown in West Virginia. The man in charge determined that I owed him a quarter for it. Back inside, I lucked upon a choice, off-white ironstone pitcher to add to my growing collection. It was one whole dollar.
Standing in line to pay, I enjoyed visiting with other shoppers who had their arms wrapped around bundles of treasures, which had belonged to someone else just a few weeks before. While I waited, I spotted a lone flamingo figurine. A length of masking tape affixed to its body boasted that the piece was valued at $2, and now it could be had for only $1. I told the man behind me that I would return shortly as I waltzed a few steps from the checkout line and plucked the adorably kitschy flamingo off a table brimming with mismatched punch glasses.
After I came home, I examined my flamingo and discovered that it was marked “Will George” on the bottom. A little Internet research made me realize that I’d found a true treasure. I am not sure I’d be likely to sell my piece for this much, however. (click here) Anyway, I named my flamingo “Will” (sorry George). I think Will is a handsome addition to my décor, and he adores sunning himself beneath my vintage lamp. After reading the history of the Will-George Pottery Company, I think Charlie McCarthy would heartily agree with me.
The History of the Will-George Pottery Company (In My Own Words)
The Will-George Company, founded in 1934 by brothers William and George Climes, initially operated from William Climes’ garage in Los Angeles. Will and George manufactured premium porcelain and earthenware. Renowned actor Edgar Bergen became infatuated with Will-George art pieces in the late 1930s. Bergen’s financial investment in the business allowed the brothers to expand and move to a larger facility in Pasadena.
After the move, Will and George produced an extensive line of art pottery, including popular bird and animal figurines, as well as a line of human figurines similar to those created by Royal Doulton. After World War II, the brothers ended their partnership with Bergen and moved to a larger plant in San Gabriel. They renamed their company “The Claysmiths” but continued to mark their pottery “Will-George.”
Like most California pottery companies, Will-George suffered after the influx of cheap imports during the 1950s. William and George liquidated their business in 1956. Will Climes designed for Hagen-Renaker until his death in 1960. George Climes worked with Redondo Tile Company of Torrance through the 1950s and was a lab technician for Gladding-McBean until his death in 1966.
Will Enjoys Fifteen Minutes of Fame