»Montrose Verdugo-City Chamber of Commerce

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Early Oktoberfest Mug Returned to Chamber

A few months back a longtime resident of Sparr Heights walked into my office with a treasure. She had been at a local yard sale and found two Oktoberfest ceramic mugs from 1979. She bought the pair and brought them right over to the chamber office. Our annual Oktoberfest has been around since 1977, so this mug was only the third style made. This resident also enough did a little research on the potter who made the mugs, Alexander Fredrick Franzka. Here is what she found:

Franzka was a longtime resident of Eagle Rock and La Crescenta/Montrose. He was a sculptor who made figurines, art ware, ceramics, pottery and terracotta. He was born in Vienna and learned the art of ceramics in his homeland. He came to Los Angeles in 1961 and later went to work as a manufacturing specialist for Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale. For over 40 years he made molds for “audio-animatronics” figures used in Disney theme parks. In 1975, Franzka opened Alex Franzka Ceramics in Glendale, crafting ceramic models of items such as beer steins (for the Chamber’s Oktoberfest), figurines and cookie jars for manufacturing companies.

Melinda Clarke, Executive Director Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce 2424 Honolulu Ave. Montrose, CA 91020 818-249-7171

Melinda Clarke, Executive Director
Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce
2424 Honolulu Ave.
Montrose, CA 91020

Finding it difficult to compete with a growing import market, Franzka closed his business in 1986. He returned to Walt Disney Imagineering and worked there until his death in 1990.

I always wondered why the Chamber stopped making the mugs (I have a collection of different mugs made for the years for the annual Oktoberfest). They used to hang on the wall of our old office and I plan to put them in our new office for people to see.

Another interesting thing the research uncovered was that as people moved into California after it was granted statehood in 1848, the demand for ceramic products grew exponentially. Buildings needed roofs, floors and sewer pipes. The ceramics industry grew as the demand increased. The “Golden Era” in tile making and art pottery, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, was around 1910. With sunlight year round, an abundance of raw materials, and relatively inexpensive natural gas, California became competitive with centers of ceramics production such as the “Pottery Capital of the World” East Liverpool, Ohio and Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. The most active period for the production of household ceramics, including tableware, kitchenware, giftware, and art ware, was from the 1930s through the 1960s. The major area of production was in the Los Angeles basin. Around Los Angeles there were over 300 producers of figurines. Who knew?!

We at the Chamber of Commerce are thankful to have these mugs back!

The tri-chamber Foothills Business Expo is coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital council rooms. You should have received information in the mail. If you are interested in displaying your business, fill out the form and return it to us! It’s a great event that draws locals to discover the businesses that are in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley.

Join us for our next mixer on Wednesday, Aug. 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wine Cave in Montrose, 2427 Honolulu Ave. If you haven’t been to the Wine Cave in a while this is a great time for you to stop by. Joseph Tahanian, who took over the Wine Cave at the beginning of the year, has changed the mood and feel of the place. The Wine Cave hosts periodic special wine tastings and hosts a variety of special musical groups like Mike Moody, a blues jazz acoustic player, Alma Sangre, an acoustic Spanish guitar group, as well as Flying Woodie that plays “rockin’” acoustic classics.

There is something for everyone.

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