Searching for a sea pottery shard’s origins


The latest sea pottery mystery I came up against was identifying a small shard of sea pottery with just a portion of the maker’s mark on it. With only a bit of content to work from, my Google searches turned up  nothing.

So, I asked on Instagram and Sea Glass Nation set me on the right path! First, @pearlshaynea suggested that one of the words might be “Buffalo” and @carl_edquist confirmed that it was probably hotelware. My next Google search landed me in an unexpected place that yielded the first clue.

yosemite-trash-dumpsIn 2003, the Yosemite Research Center published Victory Culture: Archeological Investigations at Nine Trash Dumps at Yosemite National Park, California and mentioned the restaurant items found there. They included items created by the “Dohrmann Hotel Supply Company, owned by A.B.C. Dohrmann, who was one of the backers of Park concessionaire Joseph Desmond in 1916.”

My next Google search turned up a back stamp on a piece of china for sale that looks really close to the one found on the beach. From what it says on the similar piece, I can guess that my piece includes the following words, plus maybe a date and the number 9:

dohrmann-hotel-supply-co-buffalo-china-back-stampFurnished by
Dohrmann Hotel Supply Co.
San Francisco
Los Angeles.

I did a quick search for Dohrmann Hotel Supply Co. and learned a bit about the company, started in the late 1800s in San Francisco, California. Frederick Dorhmann was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who built the company and expanded it to Stockton, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Honolulu, Hawaii. One of his personal maxims was the following poem:

Will what’s right for those around you; They in turn will wish you well.
Work in earnest:  look before you; Work done well will surely tell.
Watch yourself for time will try you; Walk the path of duty straight.
Wait!  Success will surely meet you; only will, work, watch and wait.

Sounds like a great motto for a sea glass collector, too: will, work, watch, and wait!

Do you have a sea glass or sea pottery question? If so, post it on Instagram, on Facebook, or contact us through the form on this website. With the help of Sea Glass Nation, we’ll try to solve it!