In an effort to explain the evolution of Franciscan's embossed, hand painted dinnerware, a brief chronology of Gladding, McBean and Company history prior to 1940 is necessary.
In 1875, an exceptional clay deposit was discovered in Lincoln, California (Placer County). This area of land was purchased by Charles Gladding, Peter McBean, and George Chambers who formed Gladding, McBean and Company (GMcB), parent company of Franciscan Pottery.
In 1928, Dr. Andrew Malinovsky developed a high talc, one fire body, using non crystalline amorphous flux. This innovative ceramic material was patented as "Malinite" and was to be use in the ceramic body of tile.
By 1932, experimental work had started at the Lincoln plant aimed at producing a pottery line using the "Malinite" body. The dinnerware and art ware were to be made in solid colored glazes.
In 1933, Frederick J. Grant, a chemical engineer, suggest to Mr. Atholl McBean (son of Peter McBean) that the company consider dinnerware production if plant room were available. Mr. Grant was later hired in 1934, as manager of the new GMcB pottery department at the Glendale Plant. Complete lines of art pottery, colored tableware and kitchenware were to be produced. In August, the first mimeographed price list was published. The trade name of Franciscan Pottery was chosen for the line in order to honor the padres who helped to settle California.
In April, of 1935, the first catalog containing photographs of Franciscan Pottery was published. By the end of the year, the Glendale plant pottery department had 283 different shapes in regular production.
By 1939, the prolific Glendale plant had produced at least fifteen patterns of dinnerware and nine lines of art ware. Marketing indications suggested a new dimension in dinnerware. The company moved quickly to design, produce and market a totally new line of embossed, hand painted, dinnerware. This concept was a complete departure from anything previously produced by GMcB Co.
Between the years of 1940 and 1983, many new patterns were introduced into Franciscan pottery. In 1962, Gladding, McBean and Company merged with Lock Joint Pipe Company in September. The name was changed to Interpace.
Then in 1979, Wedgwood Limited of England, purchased the entire forty five acre property on Los Feliz Boulevard on the outskirts of Glendale and renamed the facility Franciscan Ceramic, Inc. The purchase included all existing patterns and equipment.
Finally, in 1984, Wedgwood Limited of England eliminated all jobs, closed the Glendale plant, and moved production to England. The site has subsequently been sold and leveled, thereby ending 109 years of California pottery production heritage.