The California company that eventually developed into Metlox Pottery was actually started around 1920 by the Prouty family who sold their wares as ProutyLine Products. Combining parts of the words "metal" and "oxide," the substance that gives the pottery its vibrant colors, eventually derived the Metlox name.
In the late 1920s and early ‘30s, looking for additional ways to increase revenue during hard times, Metlox began producing housewares that quickly grew in popularity. Prior to that time the company had focused on making large ceramic signs for theaters and other businesses.
The company’s foray into the dinnerware business included the Poppy Trail line. This pattern remained a popular seller for years, and even today it has quite a following with collectors.
Also known as the "200 series," Poppy Trail pieces were produced in 15 different exciting hues including old rose, sea green, delphinium blue, canary yellow, rust, turquoise and poppy orange. Of all the bright colors, poppy orange is the most common.
Poppy Trail dinnerware can also be found in the pastel colors of powder blue, petal pink, satin ivory, satin turquoise, peach, pastel yellow, and opaline green. These don’t coordinate as well with the brighter pieces, but make a very nice collection when displayed on their own.
On the older Metlox dinnerware pieces, the mark was incised into the pottery rather than stamped on. This mark is most desirable when it comes to serious collectors. Unmarked pieces can be found, but they’re not as valuable as those with the older, clearly defined mark.
Evan Shaw, known for producing a line of ceramic Disney figurines also popular with today’s collectors, purchased Metlox Pottery in 1946 and continued to expand the dinnerware lines. He also bought the Vernon Kilns name and molds when the manufacturer closed in 1958, according to a Kaleden.com article originally printed in The Daze.
By the 1960s, Metlox dinnerware sales skyrocketed. And since the lines were readily available in major department stores, brides easily discovered them.
Some of the other dinnerware lines made by this company through the years are Delphinium, California Fruit, California Rose, Painted Desert and Tropicana. The company even made a black and white cow printed set of dishes called Holstein Herd right before the company closed in 1989.
Carl Romanelli, who designed some of the most highly sought Metlox dinnerware patterns in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, also sculpted bud vases and figurines to look like nudes, animals and sea life. These continue to bring good prices in the collecting community, especially the nudes.
Under Shaw’s command, a freehand stoneware designer named Helen Slater later produced a line of giftware for Metlox called Poppets. These whimsical creations were made of natural earthenware and hand thrown. Special color glazes and hand carved faces gave them unique appeal.
In all, 88 different Poppets were produced with the Metlox name stamped on the bottom, and each came with a special box. A clever eight-piece band set was even commissioned by the Salvation Army.
The company also produced some darling figural cookie jars and a number of ceramic figurines known as the "nostalgia" line. These generally featured vintage automobiles, horse drawn carriages, trolleys and other old-timey modes of transportation.
MARKS ON METLOX:
There are many marks for Metlox. The following are some of them:
The earliest mark was "California Pottery" impressed on th first line of dinnerware produced in 1932.
In 1934 "Poppytrail by Metlox" was used. Shortly after "Poppytrail Made in California, U.S.A." was used on dinnerware and artware.
Between 1935 and 1938, "Mission Bell, California" was used on ware produced for Sears.
In the late 30's and early 40's, "C. Romanelli" was used on most of the artware created by Carl Romanelli.
In the 50's an ink-stamped mark of "Poppytrail" superimposed over an outline of the State of California was used .
In the 50's and 60's two marks were used. A circular mark of "Poppytrail by Metlox/Made in California" and "Vernon Ware by Metlox/Made in California".
In the 50's a line of dishes was produced for Sears. "Harmony House" and "Made in California" was stamped on the pieces.
In the 60's and 70's paper labels were used on artware.
The Metlox Miniatures had paper labels also. The earliest was shaped like an "M".
The Disney line, by Evan K. Shaw, had an oval paper label with "Walt Disney Production/Evan K. Shaw Company Los Angeles" with the name of the character added in the center.
A circular paper label was used for the "Poppets by Poppytrail" line. Some have been found with the individual name tags.