San Jose Pottery Tiles, ca. 1930

Value (2013) | $2,700 Retail$3,500 Retail

I find them at garage sales and I go out hunting on Friday and Saturday mornings, and these are a group I had bought. I think I left a couple at home, but this is the group I brought today to show you.

And how much did you pay for these?

Oh, maybe a dollar a tile.

And you bought them all at the same time?

All at the same time at one place.

What do you think they are?

Mexican tiles. I have no idea what they are really.

It's not a bad guess at all, but they're not. They were made by the San Jose potteries. And they're from San Antonio, Texas.

Oh, how about that?

San Antonio has a very famous mission called "San Jose Mission," and so that's how she got the name for the pottery. The lady who was in charge of putting this group together, her name was Ethel Wilson Harris. And Ethel Harris was not an artist of her own right, she was an entrepreneur. She set up her company in 1931. She hired all these people. There were not many women who would have been in that position. And her earliest tiles, from 1931 to '41, she referred to as "Mexican Arts and Crafts." So this is what these are, the earliest production.

Oh, cool.

And it's hard to tell what you have very often because they're seldom marked and when they are marked, sometimes either it's with a tag, which has come off with the years, or it is like this with the glaze, and this is a little maguey plant. Now, these two here, they're a pair. She is La Tijuana and he is El Tijuano. And this may have been from a Christmas series here. And these two here may be from the same series as well. So you've got a really lovely collection. On a retail level, because this is such a nice collection... This one has a little wear here and missing a bit of glaze on top, so that one will be a little less, in the $300 range or so. The other ones are roughly in the $600 to $800 range per tile. For five bucks you did pretty well.

I think I did. That's great! I'll keep looking. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2013)
$2,700 Retail$3,500 Retail
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)
September 20, 2016: Correction: After this appraisal aired, it was brought to our attention that these tiles could have been made either at Ethel Wilson Harris' Mexican Arts & Crafts or her other company, San Jose Potteries, between 1931 and 1945.

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