The History of Treasure Craft

Although it's long gone, the company's creations are popular among collectors

An ash tray by Treasure Craft celebrating Hawai'i as the 50th state.
An ash tray by Treasure Craft celebrating Hawai'i as the 50th state. Sam Howzit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Treasure Craft, which was at one time California's largest pottery producer, was founded in 1945 by Alfred A. Levin shortly after his discharge from the Navy. He began his business by selling items manufactured by local California potters, setting up shop in Gardena, near Los Angeles.

From its start until it closed in 1995, Treasure Craft was a popular maker of stone pottery, which included cookie jars, dinnerware and collectibles by well-known sculptors such as Robert Maxwell and Don Winton.

Heyday of Treasure Craft Pottery

By the early 1950s, Treasure Craft was manufacturing its own ceramics and had expanded to several small locations in southern California. In 1956 Treasure Craft consolidated manufacturing and shipping in Compton. The company also opened a second facility in Hawaii, which was responsible for some of Treasure Craft's most popular lines (known as "Hawaiiana").

This original location was later the front door to the facility in the late 1990s and was located at 2320 North Alameda Street. Bruce Levin, Alfred's son, joined Treasure Craft in 1972 and succeeded his father as the company's president.

In November 1988, Treasure Craft was acquired by the Pfaltzgraff Company of York, Pennsylvania. Pfaltzgraff, which was founded in 1811 was at the time the largest and oldest manufacturer of casual dinnerware in America.

Over the years, Treasure Craft gained a reputation as a front-runner in the housewares and gift industry, primarily due to its dynamic designs in decorative kitchen pantry ware and tableware. Notable product offerings have included southwest looks such as "Taos" and its collectible cookie jars, many of which were styled as Disney film characters such as Snow White.

Treasure Craft ceased manufacturing in Los Angeles in 1995 when an import program was established, enabling the company to offer sharply competitive prices. Treasure Craft's products were then sourced either in Mexico or Asia. The line was focused on cookie jars and casual kitchen coordinates. Approximately 60 percent of the products were licensed designs.

New Ownership for Treasure Craft

In the late 1990s, Treasure Craft made a series of limited edition character cookie jars. The Howdy Doody jar was one of the more popular pieces from this series and today is highly coveted by cookie jar collectors.

By 1998, Treasure Craft had new ownership, although the name and location remained the same. At the time the owners specialized in limited edition products, including large licensed cookie jars from Disney.

Zak Designs Buys Treasure Craft

In 1999, Treasure Craft was sold again to Zak Designs, a leader in licensed products aimed primarily at the juvenile market. Although the Treasure Craft name was in use by Zak Designs for several years, it was phased out and is the company is no longer making new products for the Treasure Craft line.

But Zaks Designs has periodically produced Treasure Craft-style jars, in the fall of 2010 there were several licensed Disney jars that were made for and sold exclusively at Tuesday Morning Company.