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Tuesday
Nov292011

Do you have a story to tell? 

Do you have a story to tell? How did you find your piece? What does it mean to you? By any chance have you ever met the man? If so, please tell us in the comments on this thread. You can also ask questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Happy collecting!

Reader Comments (23)

My first Brad Keeler lobster dish was a dish that my mother had when I was a child. She would always serve pickles and olives in it when we would have special company, or for a holiday dinner. I would always bug my mom to use it on regular meal nights, too- I never had much luck with that however. I always thought it was so cute! My sisters, of course, thought I was nuts. When my mother sold her home and went into assisted living, the six of us children took things that had special meaning to us and of course I took the Lobster dish. Much to my surprise I went on Ebay one day and found another Brad Keeler Lobster dish different than mine! That's when the obsession began. I have purchased thru ebay and local auctions as there isn't a lot of it around here in Wisconsin-we are quite a distance from the beautiful California coast! I never tire of looking at my lobsterware and someday hope to make the pilgrimage to see the birthplace of it all .Thank you so much for this website. I am glad that this history is not being forgotten because there are still people like me out here in love with these whimsical pieces and appreciate any information that can be found about them.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally

Hi Sally,
I love your story! I find it interesting how often others' stories mimic my own-- I remember the lobster dishes from childhood, which we had placed around the house, and which I dutifully dusted when asked but which I had no idea had any special meaning for my family. It was only as an adult that I learned more about my grandfather's work (from my mom, and from others in the family) and have been building my collection ever since.
Thank you for sharing!
Cati

April 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterCatherine Porter

I was born in December, 1944. My Father worked with Brad Keeler for several years. His name was Walter Ratzke. He told me about the red glaze Brad developed. I remember my Mother Betty and my Father arguing about the formula for the red glaze. Apparently he had the formula (or a copy of it) and he thought she lost it. We lived in Montrose CA at the time. He and my stepmother
had many pieces of Keeler pottery, including a black panther figurine. I would like to know if my Father''s name was mentioned or a record of him by your family.
Kathy

***

Dear Kathy,

Thank you for stopping by. I feel like I may have already answered your message (maybe via email) because the story about your father almost losing the formula for the red glaze seems familiar, but as I am not certain, I will reply again here, just in case.

I wish I could tell you that I have a record of your father, but at this time I do not. I am still in the process of gathering information about his work but there are many gaps. I think the story you've shared is interesting, and I would love to know more about your father's time working for my grandfather. I presume that neither he or your mother are still alive? If I do find out more, I will be sure to post it here.

Thank you for sharing!

Cati

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Ashford

I picked up a pretty little footed bowl at a yard sale for .25! I had no idea about the origins of the piece but rather have a "natural" attraction to vintage items of all types. I've used the bowl on my dresser to drop jewelry or change in...I've used it in the bathroom for potpourris, soaps, etc. Recently, my curiosity has been peaked as to the origin and value of many of the items I have collected over time. That's when I located your oh so informative website! How grateful I am that you, and others like you, are so willing to share with we curiosity seekers!! Not only is your willingness a blessing to collectors like me but it is a way to keep your Grandfather's legacy alive!
The small bowl I own is about 5" round and 2" tall. Lovely avocado green glaze that fades into a creamy white on the bottom. White on the inside. 3 rectangular shaped feet. A quarter is a bargain for just about anything these days but I was fortunate to find this historical treasure for that price. Any idea on the true value? Was it part of a set at one time? Any information you can share on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

***

Dear Charlene,

What a great find. I can't say that I have information on the value of that particular piece, but I think it's safe enough to say that it's much more than the quarter you paid for it! It is always helpful for me to see a photograph, so if that is a possibility, that might help me make a better determination about its origins and potential worth. It sounds lovely, though!

Thank you for sharing, and please take care.

Cati

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlene

I picked up a pretty little footed bowl at a yard sale for .25! I had no idea about the origins of the piece but rather have a "natural" attraction to vintage items of all types. I've used the bowl on my dresser to drop jewelry or change in...I've used it in the bathroom for potpourris, soaps, etc. Recently, my curiosity has been peaked as to the origin and value of many of the items I have collected over time. That's when I located your oh so informative website! How grateful I am that you, and others like you, are so willing to share with we curiosity seekers!! Not only is your willingness a blessing to collectors like me but it is a way to keep your Grandfather's legacy alive!
The small bowl I own is about 5" round and 2" tall. Lovely avocado green glaze that fades into a creamy white on the bottom. White on the inside. 3 rectangular shaped feet. A quarter is a bargain for just about anything these days but I was fortunate to find this historical treasure for that price. Any idea on the true value? Was it part of a set at one time? Any information you can share on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Charlene,

What a great find. I can't say that I have information on the value of that particular piece, but I think it's safe enough to say that it's much more than the quarter you paid for it! It is always helpful for me to see a photograph, so if that is a possibility, that might help me make a better determination about its origins and potential worth. It sounds lovely, though!

Thank you for sharing, and please take care.

Cati

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlene

I was dusting my curio and I have had this cat for a long while now. I collect cats. So I decided to surf the web again and this time I was successful in finding out about the maker of my cat. It is stamped in blue on the bottom with Brad Keeler and 773 . She is a playful kitty on her side with two paws up, green eyes, cream face and a peachy beige fur. I paid 4.50 in a shop. Just Curious of its worth other than I like it. Can try to send pic if requested to.

***

Dear Marlene,

So glad you're enjoying the cat. I have a Siamese figurine myself, and enough real-life cats to require using earthquake putty to keep the figurines in place.

I was able to locate an image of the figurine based on the number on its base. The $4.50 you paid for the cat was a bargain - I would estimate its worth as a Brad Keeler Art Ware collectible between $20 and $30, depending upon the condition.

Thank you for sharing!

Cati

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarleen Walker

I have had a pair of Brad Keeler blue birds in my cupboard since my mother in law passed away and I chose them from among her things. She had used them on her dining table, I didn't know anything about them or even look for a signature until recently. What a surprise to find the web site and learn about Brad.

These birds are perched on tree-like stumps, one tail up and beak open, the other tail down and beak closed. AS described, the right eye of each bird has the signature V mark in the center. I hadn't noticed. One bird is perfect and the other has a little chip out of theyupper beak and the tail has been glued back on by someone perhaps years ago. I wish I knew how she happened to come by
these sweet little birds 5'' and 8 " tall with bases 3' and 5".

Thankyou for this lovely web-site

January 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I have collected your grandfather's pottery for over 20 years. I have many many birds, a lobster serving piece, a deer, and a few cats. I am fascinated with his story, and sad he died so young. I started collecting before Ebay, when you really had to search in antique store after store, and my most prized possession is a flying mallard. Thank you for telling his story on this website, I am glad to know more.
A fellow Californian.

***

Dear Cynthia,

Thank you for collecting my grandfather's work, and for your interest in his story. It really does get better and better - I had the opportunity to go through a trunk that was his and look through his old yearbooks and family photos and newsclippings, even love letters from him to my grandmother. I have found a few pieces in antique and thrift stores myself, even on the east coast! So his work did get around.

Thank you for stopping by!

Cati

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia L

H Catherine: I came upon my first Brad Keeler lobster platter (the very large #869) at a local flea market in Sebastopol in 1985. It was $8.00 and I tho't it was absolutely fabulous. I used it for years to put nuts and snacks in when I had company, especially around the Xmas holidays. I never paid attention to the name or number on the bottom, and certainly didn't figure there were more out there in the world. I hung it on my kitchen wall until it was called into use. It wasn't until 2005 that I came upon a much smaller (#868) tho similar lobster plate in a Petaluma antique store. It was $26, which seemed quite pricey since my huge one was so cheap. But I bought it. And then I looked at the name on the plate and having a computer by that time, started some research. Soon I found more and more Brad Keeler lobsterware, and a friend with a keen eye even spotted one for me in a thrift store. Ebay makes it pretty easy to find them, but so many are outrageously priced. I've had to hold out for the affordable ones, but have splurged when a specific one I had coveted would come up for bidding. I now have a wonderfully alive kitchen wall with 17 (yes, 17... 10 different sizes + a few repeats, and one white #868) and a cabinet with the S & P shakers (I did pay a bundle for those, but got caught up in the bidding...) and 3 different sizes of the lobster-topped covered dishes. I'm still watching for the great salad bowl with lobster handles and hoping I can afford it when one comes up. The wall of lobsters delights me daily and is a surprise to my guests, who always like to look them over. I'm so glad that so many of these wonderful pieces survived all the decades since your grandfather's been gone. What a great legacy he's left behind! Happy I've found your blog and this site!!

***

Dear Candy,

How fun! I would love to see a photo of that wall of lobsters. I used to keep mine on open shelving, until I found that keeping them dusted was far too much of a chore for me. I have that very salad bowl you mention, an heirloom that belonged to my paternal great-grandmother (my father's mother's mother) and that was saved for me. They are hard to come by and usually expensive, but if you keep watching ebay I'm sure it will eventually come up. I ran across a site that assigned a value to it that I think is incorrect: http://whatsitworth.michaans.com/?s=keeler. The bowl was estimated incorrectly, I believe, because the poster incorrectly stated the dimensions - it is listed as being 1.5 inches across, but it's closer to 1.5 feet, and in my estimation is valued closer to $200. So if you see one that is being sold for much less, you can assume it's a reasonable price.

Happy collecting, and thanks for stopping by!

Cati

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCandy

I adore your site! I love the tribute to your grandfather and his artwork!

My grandparents lived in Hancock Park area, and when my grandmother downsized in her later years, I told her that I had to have her ducks (I was about 15 years old). My grandmother kept the ducks in her formal dining room forever, she loved them and was happy to see them not go to an estate sale, but seeing as a teenager has no place for ceramic ducks, my mom safely packed them away for me. Today she found the ducks with a note on them with my name and she remembered the fit I threw at the idea of selling my ducks. They are now happily residing next to my husband's grandmother's ceramic elephant (unknown artist) in our dining room.

My ducks are a yellow mother duck surrounded by her 5 ducklings. Simply gorgeous. I would love to send you a photograph of them if it interests you to see them.

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterInga

Dear Inga,

What a lovely story! This reminds me of how I acquired most of my initial collection - I just had to have my grandmother's ceramic birds, which, at the time (I was only 6) I had no idea were actually a part of my family's history. And no one had the good sense to pack them away for safekeeping, so mine inevitably have had to be repaired over the years.

I would of course love to see the ducks! So glad yours have survived and are in very good hands. I have a single male mallard, but have not seen the mother and ducklings. How cute!

Thank you for sharing your story!

April 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterCatherine Porter

I just picked up turkey salt and pepper shakers (#199) at a Goodwill store yesterday. They are so precious! I don’t see any others on the internet. Is this pattern hard to find?

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

Hi Joan,
I would have to say yes! I have never seen them, and the turkey pattern is far less common than the lobster or roosters. With Thanksgiving coming up, I hope you can put them to good use! :)
(Apologies for the delayed response - I'm afraid I haven't been checking this website as often as I should.)

October 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterCatherine Porter

i recenty stopped at a flea market in my area and stumbled apon a green leaf platter with this bright red lobster on it.i am somewhat of an collector so i know if its funky and made in the usa that it most likely has some value to it.the price was eight dollars.i did not feel like carring it around with me so i left it to come back and haggle for it latter.after i scoped out the entire fle market i went back to that lobster thingy.a young lady was looking at it and as soon as she put it down a snached it up.she said it was cute but lobsters just would not fit in her kitchen decor.she also told me the price was good as for the seller said every thing was half today.so i paied a wopping four dollars for a perfect,no chips,beautiful platter.when i googled the name brad keeler and found out the value and more important the story of the man it made that buy all the more satisfying.i think i am hooked.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbig

Hi Cati...took a photo of my kitchen wall with (most of) my Brad Keeler lobster dishes ~ so will try to post a link to it here for you...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/candyruth/11997710274/

February 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCandy Riddell

Hi! It has been so fun finding this site! I was at a small estate sale today in MN and found one of the lobster platters. My sister-in-laws were with me and encouraged me to buy the platter because we have an annual crawfish boil and they thought it would be fun for the party. The platter had been a wedding gift and the daughter explained to us that her mother hadn't liked the platter because it was a lobster and she was from Maryland and they had crabs there so she had felt it just wasn't her style! But she had kept it all these years because it was a gift from someone special and she wouldn't have thought of getting rid of something like that. Never used it! I bought it for $3 and now that I know about your Grandfather and all the beautiful work he did, I would like to buy more pieces!! Thank you for this history!

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

HI Cati
I am thrilled to have found your blog. I am in the process of going through my parents estate, getting it ready for an estate sale. I came across "the" cow pitcher that I had loved so much as a child. I think your grandfather was an artistic genius. The details are precious. Somewhere between real and a cartoon, but closer to real. To think he was able to capture that and produce it (in the USA) is wonderful. It is not large, only 5.5 inches from mouth to tail and three inches high.... plenty big enough to hold cream for coffee, which ours did way before I was old enough to drink coffee. I remember being fascinated with how the milk came out of the cows mouth.
My own grandfather passed when I was only nine. I adored him. I know he was a talented man and I cherish my memories of him. I am so taken that you have created this site in memory of your grandfather. He couldn't ask for a better gift from his granddaughter. And all of us who are lucky enough to own some of his pieces are grateful too!
I know one thing, my precious little cow is not going into the estate sale!
all the best to you, keep up the great work!

Holly

May 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

As a child, there was a Thumper Bunny and a kitten in my room, long before I knew about this pottery. My grandparents used to send me pottery or Breyer horses for Christmas. As a "grown" teen, I tired of the young look of my room and sold many of these at a yard sale, except for the last Breyer horse from Grandpa's final holiday. Now I wish I had them all back for my own daughter.
But my current collection began anew when I bought a spectacular fantasy Heron for 25 cents at another yard sale. There were two...a male and female, but the female had a missing piece. On my then 50 cent a week allowance, the extra quarter for a broken item seemed too high, and I brought home the male only. I've searched for decades for another female in the tall size with no luck. That first male hooked me on the fantasy bird line and Brad's birds in general. As it got more difficult to find or afford more of his birds, I've added other mid-century artists' birds to the collection which has grown to over 50. But the quality and detail and colors in Brad's birds always set them apart from the other styles!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

Today I was doing some cleaning. I received a pig from my mother's estate and never paid attention to the creator until today. I turned the pig over and found the mane Brad Keeler along with the #157. Just want you to know that this is one of my favorite pieces.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMmedlin

Hi Cati,
Thank you for the excellent site. Not only am I a local history buff, but I'm a real fan of the Brad Keeler story and his inspiring work. I have an ebay/etsy collectables store/auction house and am currently listing three Brad Keeler Artwares. One white & Red #24 and one black & red #24 roosters. They have all the typical Brad Keeler features with crazing, the eyes and his impressed signature/number underneath. Is there any publication that has his numbering system recorded?. Being a history buff, I appreciate what was going on in the world that may have influenced succesful atisans.
Also, the third Brad Keeler we have is different. It's a completely black rooster, almost a bisque finish (no glazing or brilliant coloring. It just has the oval black & gold Brad Keeler Artwares sticker and no impressed name or markings underneath . Could this be some of Catherines works after Brad passed away? or did this rooster just get out of the coop brfore painting & glazing?
These were found in a box at an estate sale along with about 60 other collectable roosters. The owners name was Dorothy, who passed away in 1992 but asked a friend to store them in 1986. The friend forgot about them until last month (30 years later?) and put them out at another persons estate sale. Everything in the boxes were vintage (over 50 yeaars old) and from all around the world.
We currently have a venue at our auction house called Dorothy's collection at Larents Place (the name of our store.)

Thanks again for the excellent site!
Larry Conard

August 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Conard

Hi there,

I sure hope that you can tell me something a about the piece I own. I think it is a crane, it's a white bird with a gold base and is signed BRADSTER #1. I sure hope you can help identify the time period and value. I feel very lucky to
have found it on one of my shopping adventures.
Thank you,
Ruth

Hi Cati! hopefully you can help me, I bought a dish with 2 cabbage leaves and a solid tomato in the middle, I bought it at a thrift store for $3.99! I love it! I looked it up on the internet but only saw pics of the dish with the tomato having a lid. It's numbered on the back... it reads 887 with " BRAD KEELER '' with dark brown ink, a little to the right of his name it looks like a capital ' H ' or capital it could be a capital ' I ' if you turned the dish sideways. what ever the letter is its printed with blue ink. What a wonderful family treasure for you to have, such a blessing. I don't know you but am happy for you and it warms my heart to hear stories like yours. Please feel free to e-mail, I really hope you can help and greatly appreciate your efforts. I hope to hear from you, sincerely, Denise

January 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

My dads family lived in Glendale Ca. My dad grew up there in the 20's and 30's. When my grandmother passed away in Glendale my dad inherited the "Roosters #24" by Brad Keeler embossed in the base of the pieces. When my dad died I inherited them. I always loved them they are really well made. One is black and one is white. My only fear is a big earthquake will knock them over and break them. They are in perfect condition.
I enjoyed the history of the Keeler family you put together, Thanks!

February 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCliff Cruickshank

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