BC Ceramics

It is surprisingly difficult to find in-depth information on the company, BC Ceramics. The following information was gathered many years ago as personal research, and I cannot currently find it anywhere online. I began with an article I found on the website, www.bcceramics.ca, (page not available), but I’d like to include information from it as I think it provides the most comprehensive background to the pottery.

Location & dates:

  • 1954-1967 (Homer Street, Vancouver; distribution office in Toronto)
  • 1967-1970 (Sunburst – Lethbridge)

People:

  • Frederick Leuchte  [See Royal Ariston]
  • Walter Gerz (d.1967) – Ceramics Engineer: responsible for the technical aspects of the business, including glazes and design of plant equipment [1954-1967]
  • Herta Gerz (1913-2005) – artist, décor designer, trainer  [See Herta]

Markets: Department stores, Birks Jewellers across Canada, and foreign markets
Transitions: from Importex Company (Royal Ariston) to BC Ceramics (Vancouver) to Sunburst (Lethbridge)

The following info is from “BC Ceramics: History” by Allan Collier, Victoria, BC, written sometime before June 2012.

History 
“BC Ceramics was a Vancouver-based ceramics company in business between 1954/55 and the early Seventies. The Company produced contemporary giftware…from its multi-storied facility on Homer Street in downtown Vancouver.

Common Forms and Shapes
“BC Ceramics produced hundreds of different items including dishes, bowls, vases, pitchers, ashtrays, candle holders, planters, promotional items, lamp bases, and figurines. While some are similar to designs by other manufacturers, many are unique to BC Ceramics.

“All products, except lamps, were marked with a clear 4-digit mould number which was most often impressed, but sometimes in relief or handwritten, on the bottom. Items with an “A” following the mould number are alternate versions or part of a pair (e.g.Salt and Pepper).

“Each number refers to a specific item or shape. A large percentage of these, including the lamp bases, ashtrays, bowls, vases, and other container forms, were available in about 20 common “decors”.

Decoration
“Apart from figurines, almost all BC Ceramics pieces were decorated with décors, native motifs, surface textures, and colour glazes unique to the company.
“Both glossy and matte glazes are common, often in several colours – “twintone”, mottled, or speckled – or in monochrome, plain black, gray, cream or white. Dimpled, rough surfaces and sgraffito markings are also evident on bowls and vases.

Identification
“In most cases, BC Ceramic pieces can be identified by form, mould number, or unique decoration alone. Fortunately, most items also have additional features, markings, or labels which makes identification that much easier.
“Practically all BC Ceramic articles have a well-formed and unglazed foot “ring” on the bottom. (Some dishes and shallow bowls have feet located at one end and no foot “ring”)

Mould #: 2640A

1b: Serving dish, organic triangular shape, mark & label

mark & label

“Some pieces come with paper labels in one of several different styles or colours…there is also a label in the shape of a maple leaf.
“In addition to the 4-digit mould number – usually impressed, but sometimes in relief – many items have “Vancouver,” or “Canada” (or both) impressed on the bottom.

7b: Herta “Wild Rose” pin dish, mould 7113 [mark]

“Often, handwritten inscriptions such as “By Herta” or “Décor by Herta” or the name of the décor, appear on the bottom along with the mould number.”

The company ceased operations as BC Ceramics around 1970 when it was acquired by Sunburst Ceramics of Lethbridge, Alberta.


I will provide as much credit to the author as possible, and if anyone can provide me more info on the source, please contact me.

I would like to thank Allen Collier for the information provided. Please see the link to his interesting Curated collection, West Coast Design Collection


Comments

BC Ceramics — 4 Comments

  1. I found this lovely little ceramic vase in a gift shop near me in Springfield, Oregon. I wondered if you might have any information about it? Thank you very much. Karen

    • Karen, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. It has been a very strenuous time for me lately – no excuse, I know, but just how things are sometimes. I so enjoy your BC Ceramics piece! It is a popular mid-century design called Northern Lights, attributed to one of BC Ceramics most famous and popular designers, Herta Gerz. (see more info here: BC Ceramics: Herta

  2. An offline comment from Lynne:
    Hello, I’m hoping you might help me identify a vase I received as a gift. It’s very similar to your listing “Herta (BC Ceramics) “Dogwood” vase, mould 2012” but it’s a larger vase and number 2641. It is not signed by the artist. The base is impressed with the number 2641 and VANCOUVER CANADA. I received it in the 1960’s or 1970’s? (not sure of when). It has a single dogwood flower surrounded with green leaves on the front and three leaves on the back. Thank you for your consideration and for anything you can tell me.

    • Hi Lynne,

      This is a BC Ceramics piece from the mark. However, it could also be a piece designed by Herta when she worked for BC Ceramics. So, I would say is is probably a Herta designed vase made by BC Ceramics. See my BC Ceramics page and check out the marks, especially the base # 2640. Double click on the image to enlarge it and get a description.

      BC Ceramics mark - Lynne BC Ceramics-front-Lynne BC Ceramics-back-Lynne

      Hello again,

      I just wanted to mention that the Homer Street location makes complete sense to me as the lady who gifted me this vase lived in the West End. She was always finding local arts and crafts and loved the shopping and life that Vancouver offered. Lynne.

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