I happened upon these beautiful art pottery crested heron birds at a very affluent estate sale that was full of eclectic collectibles in a home covered in marble and exquisite chandeliers from the fireplace to the vaulted ceilings. I fell in love with them instantly. At almost 15 inches tall and wing spans of 8 inches each these herons were just magnificent. They appeared to be Roseville in style and after doing a bit of research I discovered they were by the late artist Brad Keeler who was known for his California pottery. California pottery has always been popular and highly collectible, but these were the first Brad Keeler pieces I had ever purchased.
Brad Keeler was known for his service sets, like lobster service sets, rooster service sets and his birds (he did a lot of flamingos). His pieces were popular during World War II and are becoming more and more rare especially in excellent condition as they were produced in the 40's and 50's.
Brad Keeler was born in 1913 and was the oldest of several children. He was a "go getter" from the start and began his own pottery business at an early age. His business became quite successful during WWII and even after the war. Unfortunately, he died at the very early age of 39 from a heart attack. Despite his family's efforts to keep the business going they were unable to sustain it. In fact newer pieces bear Catherine Keeler's name reflecting the time when the family took over the pottery business.
Trademarks or characteristics of an artist's work can go a long way to helping you identify what a piece is. In researching Brad Keeler as an artist and some of the pieces he produced, he was no exception. One of his signature trademarks was crazing throughout each piece. Crazing on a piece of porcelain looks like fine lines throughout the glaze giving a crackled appearance. Another signature mark of a Keeler piece is the white slice in the iris of each eye on every bird he made to depict a reflection. Keeler pieces are very detailed in this way. Knowing what types of pieces an artist makes can be your first clue to identification. Further knowledge recognizing trademarks of an artist will help you verify the identity of a piece. These picking tips may lead you to your own Brad Keeler piece on your next antiquing excursion!
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