FRANKOMA MARKS AND CLAYS
To determine the age of a piece you need to find the type of mark and mold number (if any), the type of clay used and the correct glaze color.
FRANKOMA CLAY TYPES
One of the most important points about collecting Frankoma pottery is to identify a pieces' age according to what type of clay was used. Determining this can have a large impact on pricing an item.
John Frank worked with clay from different locations in Oklahoma and he settled on a deposit of tan clay from Ada, Oklahoma. Frankoma used this clay from 1933 until 1954 and collectors refer to it as Ada Clay. Mr. Frank discovered this deposit of clay while teaching at the University of Oklahoma, which he used for his art classes. This clay had to be extracted from the ground similar to digging trenches. Over the years the quality of this clay declined past an acceptable level. Tree branches and other trash built up, which had to be cleared before more clay was extracted. Then, the clay had to be hauled 150 miles by truck to Sapulpa.
In late 1954, the company switched to a brick red firing clay which was several miles from the factory in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. This clay was extracted from Sugar Loaf Hill and is referred to as Sapulpa clay. A local brick manufacturer used this deposit for making bricks. This mineral rich clay significantly changed the appearance of many of the glazes, especially the rutile glazes. (Prairie Green, Woodland Moss, Peach Glow, Desert Gold, Brown Satin).
Further, during the 1980's, the clay was infused with additives which affected the color. This changed it from red to a light pink or a light orange.
FRANKOMA CLAY TYPE EXAMPLES
ADA CLAY 1933 - 1954
Light tan or honey color, usually does not darken when wet.
Sapulpa Clay (Red) 1955 - Circa.1980
Deep Red color, became lighter as production years went on.
Sapulpa Clay (Pink) Circa. 1980 - Present
More pink or orange colored than red due to additives in the clay to make it stronger. Sometimes so light it is mistaken for Ada Clay.
The earliest Frankoma pieces (1933-1934) were marked either Frank Potteries Norman Oklahoma, or with the OKLA abbreviation rather than the full state name, or simply Frank Potteries. Some examples of Frankoma from this time period can be found with a black ink rubber stamp. Frankoma also used the cat mark (Pot & Puma) between 1934 and 1938.
Ink Stamp (1933-1934)
Cat Mark (1934-1938)