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Who's Hermione? Hermione Pottery / California Pottery / Abstract Artist / Hermione Palmer Chase

Finding Lady Godiva's Sculptor: My Wild Research Ride 

Here's a sweet little pottery figurine of Lady Godiva. The signature ''HELEN'', above, didn't tell me much, but luckily I did find a very similar figurine of a blonde nudie-cutie-patootie on a grey horse, below, which is incised with 'Lady Godiva Hermione'.

I feel pretty confident that both figures are by the same artist, even though they have different signature/marks.

[Sold on ebay 1/29/2013 - see here in Worthpoint's archive and here: SOLD $60.99 http://www.calpotteries.com/gallery/hermione-pottery/]

Hermione Pottery? Who the heck is Hermione? 

Thanks to google, I found out several sources with a variety of info-tidbits about Hermione Ruth Palmer Chase.

It's going to be a Wild Ride!

In searching all different combinations of names and subjects, I tend to go off on tangents, following one concept to another, winding up miles from where I started, and nowhere near where I'd hoped to go, but sometimes winding up in a far more interesting place than I'd imagined. It's fun!

Some of this information seems valid, some seems questionable. I'll try to suss it out here, and share my thoughts, and some source links.

Fact or fiction? Salted, Please.

There are several ''facts'' that have become Hermione internet-lore that I don't think are true. They have just been copy-pasted repeatedly by sellers of Hermione pieces, and by repetition have become accepted as fact. That is understandable. Not very many people are crazy enough to spend as many hours as I did researching a little figurine, when they just want to sell it quickly and be done with it.

I'm sure alot of it is true, and I don't necessarily have all the facts either. So perhaps you should sprinkle the proverbial grains of salt as you read my post...

Hermione Ruth Palmer:
  • She was born in San Francisco in 1905 and grew up in Berkeley, California. 
  • Died Dec. 16, 1987 in Glendale, Calif. (No obituary online).
  • She went to college at UC Berkeley
  • She did illustrations for magazines from 1929 until about 1942 -- College Humor, Life Magazine, Ballyhoo, and American Weekly
  • She is a Lifetime Member of the Society of Illustrators.

  • It was during college that she supposedly created the ''nationally syndicated'' college-paper cartoon called Co-Ed Cora Says. 
  • But the only reference I found for the Cora cartoon was in The Rice Institute's 1929 school paper, The Thresher. That signature sure looks like Luella Davis to me. Pass the salt.
  • Hermione was also into pottery sculpting, working out of Berkeley's famous California Faience studio
  • At some point Hermione moved to Glendale, Calif. 
  • In 1942, opened her pottery business in the upscale Los Feliz neighborhood.

Hermione Pottery examples:

Hermione's Patent

Check out the wonderful ceramic head vases above. These are what most pottery collectors know Hermione for. They are unmistakeable, with their real wire curly hair-dos. 
  • The process of embedding those wire curls was Hermione Palmer's invention, which she patented in 1939.
  • I found her middle name, Ruth, in a copyright filing. 
So... 2 facts. No salt needed.

Now for something saltier...
  • She married a Mr. Chase in 1955 -- but
  • I could find no mention online of her wedding, or any mention of her husband's first name. 
  • It is also noted online that Mr. Chase passed away only 2 months after their wedding. No other marriages are mentioned.
  • It's written that her husband, the afore-mentioned Mr. Chase, was connected with Chase Bank. But Chase Bank was NOT founded by a family named Chase. 
  • Per wikipedia:
Chase National Bank was formed in 1877 by John Thompson It was named after former United States Treasury Secretary and Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase although Chase did not have a connection with the bank.
Her husband could have been a descendant of Salmon P. Chase...

HERMIONE paintings:

Signature is HERMIONE

  • Later in her artistic career, in the 1960s, she studied painting at L.A.'s Otis College of Art and design, along with Sister Mary Corita.
  • She painted and exhibited in the 1960's and 1970's, and became a listed artist, known for her colorful abstract paintings.
  • Note: The signature on paintings, HAPalmer is often mistaken for HRPalmer (Discussion of signatures)
  • But you can see in the photos of her paintings, above, that Hermione's signature is her name written out, Hermione
  • Obviously, she is neither artist, H.A. Palmer, or Herman Palmer.

HAPalmer signature is not HRPalmer, and thus NOT Hermione Palmer's.


And now for some stuff I came up with that is very unlikely to have anything at all to do with Hermione but will now be added to her lore. Sorry, I just can't help it.

Hermione was known to name her pieces, and mine is marked HELEN. Why not Godiva? 

My guess is that the famous Burlesque Queen SALLY RAND was known for doing a Godiva-esque nude horse back ride in her act. Sally Rand was very popular, and living/working in California, during the time that Hermione was making her pottery... and Sally's birth name was... wait for it... HELEN -- tada! -- Info about Sally Rand

Or could it possibly have anything to do with Dr. Seuss? Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, was married to a Helen Palmer - a relative of Hermione's perhaps??? In 1939 Geisel wrote Dr. Seuss's Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History's Barest Family. [Source]

I said this was a wild ride!

But seriously... obviously, I'm reaching here, grasping at shiny-blonde-straws.

Follow these, and the many links in the post to see what else has been written about Hermione Ruth Palmer Chase. And if anyone has some more facts, or a photo of the lady, please share!

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