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Clay Art Company

Clay Art Babe Ruth
Clay Art Babe Ruth

1979 Michael Zanfagna and Jenny McClain were teaching at Mission High School in San Francisco, when they decided to build a business of affordable art. The company became known for their cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers and masks. Their first product was not a jar, but a ceramic hand-painted cherub’s bottom fanny hook. Too bad that wasn’t a cookie jar, it would have been an interesting one.

In a telephone interview (1998) with Michael Zanfagna, he talked about the products they were working on Рincluding their new plan of adding licensed items to go with their decorative pieces.  This turned into a big success as the licensed jars were very popular and among the most affordable. Each jar was sold in a pictorial box, was on the lower end of the price scale, and were well made.

The company’s original jars were a variety of whimsical designs — think baby cat complete with real pacifier, Santa riding a pig, a pajama-clad middle age couple sharing a hug, etc. Black music-themed jars were also made early in the production years, those have been quite popular and skyrocketed in values.

Some of the licensed pieces included: Gumby, Batman, Superman, The Three Stooges, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Mr Potato Head, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean  and Felix the Cat. Meanwhile a line of black memorabilia cookie jars were very popular and well-received by collectors.

One of their most anticipated and popular jars was the Babe Ruth cookie jar from the late 1990s. Clay Art designs were all over the map in the design aspect, but were well done and have become extremely popular with collectors.
And if you are a salt and pepper collector, many of their cookie jars had coordinating shakers, as well ase banks.

Values: $$- $$$

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