Freeman-McFarlin

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Freeman-McFarlin was started in El Monte, California in 1927 by Gerald McFarlin.  It was known then as McFarlin Potteries.  In 1951 Maynard Anthony Freeman joined the company as a partner and chief designer.  It was Freeman's design of a new line of slip-cast earthenware sculpture that propelled the company to new success.  In 1968 a second plant was added in San Marcos.  McFarlin sold his inerest in the late 1960's and Freeman sold out in 1972 to International Multifoods.  The El Monte factory was closed in 1975 and opertions were consolidated at the San marcos Plant.  Hagen-Renaker acquired all operations in 1980.  Anthony Freeman went on to design some bone china items for George Good.  If anyone has more information on Anthony Freeman, please email me. I can't seem to find much information about Anthony but believe he still lives in California.

The mermaids Anthony designed are in my opionion the most gorgeous mermaids made. I think part of the reason I collect all shapes/colors of Freeman-McFarlin mermaids is because of the beauty and the thought of design that went into them - they are made differently from any other mermaid of the time.  The mermaids are made out of a flesh tone ceramic so the skin is not painted on, it's the pottery color.  If you turn over a wall plaque made by this manufacturer, the piece is hollow and a horizontal bar with a hole is at the top to attach a wire and hang them on the wall.  There is a simple round Freeman-McFarlin label on the back. The tailfin was always a gloss finish, whereas the top part was a matte finish.  They had no lipstick or pink cheeks, just those gorgeous big, wide eyes were painted on.  Their lips were lucious and full.  They were sold individually rather than as a set (I have a postcard advertising them for sale).  

Although I like the simplicity of the originals, I also like to bling them up at times... red lips, pink cheeks, rhinestones ane shells!  To the right are a couple I've made.  I make mom alone very simple... or with a lot of flowers/shells/rhinestones.  Then I also make a number of mom and baby sets.  Click on the pictures to see the different ways I make this lady. 

All of Anthony's mermaids were made with blonde hair back in the 50's, typically real light blonde... the one with dark hair above is an oddity in hair color as well as tailfin color.  The most common set you see of the mom and babies is the dark green tailfin.  The middle top picture is a comparison of the two mermaids made in pink.  Pink is rare, but the pink one on the right is the rarest of the two.... and her babies are even rarer.  The pink mom/baby set on the right was the first mermaid set designed by Anthony and evidently they didn't produce many of them as they are the most difficult mermaids to find that were made in the 50's.  And the babies in the right picture are impossible to find!

To the left and right are reproductions I've made.  Note that I can make the mom and baby set with all FIVE babies!  Click on the pictures if you want to purchase or see larger pictures of these sets.    

The dark green set came with either silver bubbles or gold bubbles.  The ponytail band of the dark green babies is a lighter shade of the green.  The ponytail band of the pink babies is a gold/brown.  But the mom's headband matches the colors of her bubbles.  

No other manufacturer made this ponytail mermaid or the babies in ceramic - all the other ones you see in ceramic are made by individuals.  There was a Japan manufacturer that made this mermaid in chalkware and sprayed on the paint thus giving her a carnival type look.  And there have been some molds made in her likeness both for ceramic and the white plastic ones for plaster.  But they all are much smaller and the lips/eyes are not defined well - the lips on the others are real thin where the Freeman McFarlin one has real thick/full lips.  This gal is tall at 9".  All the others you see are 8"-8.5" and are made by individuals. This is the gal that started the long ponytail looking over the shoulder mermaid craze .

There were a number of fish sets made by Freeman-McFarlin too, the one to the left is my favoriete.  The fish sets also had those big wide eyes and were hollow in the back with a vertical bar and hole to attach wire for hanging (dead give-away it's a Freeman-Mcfarlin design).  But you don't even need to turn over a piece to tell is was designed by Anthony, all you have to do is look at those wonderful eyes!  The fish to the left is 12" tall... that's a lot of fish!  There are graduatng sizes of this fish to go with him and the real small ones don't have the horizontal bar.  There were also some sitting baby shelf sitters made.  The three to the right and a baby sitting on a clam shell soap dish.  Another soap dish was made with an adult mermaid

There were also some shelf sitters made by Freeman McFarlin.  They all had pink tailfins with gold, the same gloss tailfin and matte bisque upper body... no rouge and no lipstick, just those big beautiful eyes!  None of the Freeman McFarlin mermaids had rouge or lipstick.  The three to the left are the 3 you seem most often.  The one underneath is not found that often.  Although we consider these a "set", they each were sold individually.  The mom soapdish to the right is really pretty and she has an opening in the back that I place guest towels.  There are holes in the bottom so I suppose it is for a plant to be stuck in her and these are the drain holes.  The mom soap dish has the Freeman-McFarlin logo on the bottom .  I have also occasionally seen a solid white mom with the Freeman Marking on the bottom.  There was a ceramic mold made to resemble mom and a couple of her babies so individuals could paint them, but it's pretty easy to tell the original from the reproductions becaue of the coloring and people seem to like to put gloss glaze, lipstick and blush on them. 

This mermaid was made in the 80's when Anthony designed some items for George Good.  She is bright white bone china.. the only coloring on her is her gold ponytail band and the gold starfish.  she is reall big at almost 8" long.  I have her displayed with a set of gold mushrooms designed by... you guessed it, Anthony Freeman!

This is a really rare wall display of Freeman McFarlin mermaids with pink tails, 6 gold bubbles, and the mom and baby seahorse made by McFarlin potteries.  The mermaids were designed by Anthony Freeman in the 50's.  The seahorses were designed by McFarlin before Anthony joined the company so they are dated in the 1940's.  All pieces are very rare - the seahorses are especially rare - the baby seahorses are just 1.5" tall and they are SOOOO cute!

 To the right is a reproduction I make of the seahorse set that is more colorful.  If you click on the picture you will see larger pictures and find out how to purchase a set made for you!

These is a set I just found and is quite rare.  It is a 2 piece mermaid baby set made by McFarlin before Anthony Freeman joined so it would have been made in the 1940's when McFarlin didn't have assembly lines but instead hired local artists to make pottery pieces for the company.  The Mermaids always have the ruffled gold middle and gold tails.  The one on the left is the boy and he has a mirror and comb.  The one on the right is the girl with an upside bow on her hair.  Their tailfins are a multicolored pearl and there are pearl bubbles.  The McFarlin Potteries label is on the bubbles.  This is the only mermaid set McFarlin made.  When Anthony joined, he created a whole new line of mermaids.  Most likely because molds for these babies had popped up at ceramic shops and individuals were making a 3 baby set that included these two babies.  Really interesting piece of history to find this set made by McFarlin.  I have only seen 3 sets of these in my 15 years of collecting.

Above are some of the Freeman McFarlin fish.  They originally came in pairs but over the years one has broken so you see them sold individually now.  

This is a set I found on the internet that has been sprayed with gloss.  Note the skin is a LOT darker than it is supposed to be, plus the top has a gloss finish rather than a matte finish.  You don't see this done that often but be aware of it because it will not match any of the other peices you buy.