Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pacific Plastics Elusive Miramar Melmac and Pottery Factory Tour , Laguna and Miramar in Los Angeles

These buttons offered by HarvestQueenVintage, are possibly made by
Pacific Molded Products Co., 905 E. 59th St.
, Los Angeles 1, one of the early molders.
I could never understand if the lack of information readily available about the Pacific Plastics manufacturers of the West Coast was because I was on the East Coast. There were even publications put out on the Pacific Plastics makers but little is known about the melamine part of the molding.  Here on the East Coast, I'm overwhelmed with a ton of Russel Wright (made in Boston) and Boontonware (made in New Jersey), so I don't happen across much Laguna, Capac, Durwear, Flintwood, or Miramar among others. I decided to do a little sleuthing on Miramar of Los Angeles.


Miramar Melmac Backstamp of hard to find mixing bowl by designs4justice

I've only been able to find snippets of Miramar pottery, of Los Angeles, California, mostly making pottery items circa early 1950's (most sources report 1952 ) and closing in the 1970s, (1978) having been located by the 710-10 exchange. Evidence of melmac from this company also exists.  At first I thought perhaps the melmac was made by another molder and shipped in, but after PaleBear took the below photo, which peaked my curiosity, I did some more research. I can say that I believe that melmac was made here at least until 1960's, although the pottery and sales offices may have lasted longer. 
Courtesy of PaleBear, who says this is located off the 710 Freeway note the large equipment , towers, and fans on the building make me thing molder was happening there.
A more recent photo by Cupcakes and RollerSkates explains that this was taken south of the Ramona exit, much closer to the 710-10 interchange.  I was determined to find this sign and I did.
A rare ceramic "Miramar Melmac" Store display here proves this company sold both!

Miramar marked some of their boxes with a generic Los Angeles address. After slething in a Department Store Economist from the 1960's it listed Miramar of California, Inc. at 603 North Ford Blvd., Los Angeles 22.  The problem is, Google maps has you sitting in the middle of an intersection. So, I did more slething. I was determined to find the sign. Then I found, a block down, what was a very interesting factory looking building.

After sleuthing, the factory at 500 N. Ford Boulevard now belongs to LaFortaleza wholesaler of Mexican food.  If you see here there is a large lot, a huge barn like silver structure, and what can be seen of the original sign and towers in the factory part of the building, towards the top left.  The place, if it was originally like this in the 70's would have been large enough to mold plastics and pottery out of.  The building is large enough to house offices, factory, and products.
Standing in front of the huge barn like structure, one can only wonder if this was where the pottery or plastics were stored way back when. It is difficult to know if this was one of the original buildings of Miramar of California, but based on it's age I would assume so.  The sign can be seen peeking out from above middle arrow, and the furthest right arrow is the original factory. 
miramar sign melmac

Well, guess what? Thanks to Google Maps I went to the other end of that same block, only this intersection had an arrow for 603 N. Fort. A sign seems to glare at me in the distance, that appears to say Miramar Melmac. Could I be going crazy? I flew onto the arial view from the highway behind to see if I could get more clues. 
Miramar Melmac Sign
Sure enough, thanks to Google maps, from the sky you can look down on this long row of buildings, from 500 N Fort to 603 N Fort and see that this may very well indeed have been the elusive Miramar Melmac Factory, and that wonderful thing on top? Let's get a closer look...

Miramar Melmac Sign
Miramar Melmac Sign!

You can zoom around yourself (go to street view) and see it here:  THANK YOU GOOGLE MAPS

Backstamp of Laguna Plates offered by Old Suprises.
In cross referencing an old "Gale trade names directory" it clearly states that Laguna Melmac was a trade name of and division of Miramar. I did figure as much as the the same block text is used on this backstamp as it was on the speckled bowl marked Miramar. It appears that Laguna seems to be a popular line found in many Californian's cupboards and at the local thrifts and estate sales. You can easily detect this line by the "funky" cup handles. 
These lovelies by Tag Sale Finds.
Thanks to some old Laguna packaging, I found the actual address and warranty information for Laguna melamine luncheon set also indicating it's place of manufacturer which is none other than Miramar of California. This is the smoking gun that proves that the Miramar Factory on North Ford Boulevard sold both melamine and pottery.   Oddly, the set it came from looks very 1970's.

Laguna melmac was warranteed 3 years from breakage or defects.  As of the late 60's it was still using the North Ford Addy!

Look for the Doritos sign, and you will see the melmac sign peeking from above!
Now, the sign is aging and may now would be passed over as a Mexican Food Wholesaler if you were just driving up North Ford Boulevard, this is what you'd see.  If you were on the freeway you may still notice the old dilapidated melmac sign, which is clearly visible from the freeway still. One may not realize that this little place indeed, produced melmac and not corn chips at one time!

However, the real confusion in tracking this line's history stems from a line called "Miramar" that clearly states it was molded by Weber Plastics, of L.A., California with a different cursive style backstamp.

Oddly, it appears there were two different Miramar's!!! This creamer, $3 at HeleneFever of Seattle.
According to Mr. Robin Thorne, aka Mr. Melmac, who lives on the West Coast and has done a ton of research, working on his A to Z melmac archives. He talked to me some time ago about my store display and explained that sometimes in the 1960's Weber was bought by a man who moved the machinery to a new factory in Santa Paula, about 90 miles north of LA. There the new company, California Molded Plastics or CMP continued to make Miramar and Capac (CaliforniaPacific) lines and added the very popular Durawear line. (Not to be confused with Canadian Duraware). These dates caused me total confusion because the warranty on a late 1960's dinnerware set has the factory still listed at 500 North Ford Boulevard.  I suppose it is quite possible that if Miramar was still in business in the 1960's and still located on North Ford Boulevard they could be distributing, (the pottery) and not manufacturing the plastics.  Therefore, problems would go back to the sales offices, not the factory itself.
18 piece Miramar Set (with huge serving bowl) by ReFindery

Even more confusing, in the once huge world of plastics molders, I found that Consolidated Molded Products (CMP) of Scranton PA, is somehow linked to CMP of California, and by the late 1960s had ties to Northern and the demise of Russel Wright plastics. Perhaps it's easiest just to summerize that by the 1960's only a few melmac molders had survived, clearly giving them free reign on buying up all the machinery and molds that were left merging what was once thousands of tiny smaller molding companies into just a few, left standing.

Do you have information on what was happening there in Cali-forn-i-a ?  If you have information on Miramar melamine or Weber Plastics, please email me! 

1 comment:

  1. The Miramar company on Ford street continued production until at least the end of 1980. At that point, they moved to Valencia, CA. I know because my father worked as a mechanic to the machinery.