Cordey Lookalikes: Heirlooms of Tomorrow

As mentioned in my recent post about Chantilly China, the Cordey China Company had yet another lookalike product in the 1940s home décor market. Unlike Chantilly, this other company – Heirlooms of Tomorrow – was based not in Trenton, but on the west coast.

The brand ‘Heirlooms of Tomorrow’ was launched in 1944 in Manhattan Beach, California, by William Bradley. This puts them smack-dab into the same timeframe as both Cordey and Chantilly. What’s unusual is the location: California was not exactly a hotbed of porcelain production. There was a good reason that most large-scale manufacturers of porcelain and china items were located in either New Jersey or (to a lesser extent) Ohio: Easy access to the necessary raw materials.  In order to have a decent factory in a place like Manhattan Beach, Mr. Bradley would have had to import most of his materials from the East coast or the Midwest. Heirlooms of Tomorrow existed from 1944 to 1949, which roughly parallels the chronology of Cordey (if you measure it by how long Cordey made items other than just lamps.)

However, the story of Heirlooms of Tomorrow took a somewhat mysterious twist, which I’ll describe at the end of this post.
The initials W and B in the logo paint-stamp stand for William Bradley. Not all Heirlooms of Tomorrow pieces have this stamp, however. Some pieces also have a two and/or three digit painted number, one of which was undoubtedly the design number of the item.
Their foil paper gummed sticker gives the location of the factory.

Although Chantilly and Cordey wares are similar enough to be easily confused if no identifying marks are available, Heirlooms of Tomorrow items have several differences. The most noticeable is the type of dipped lace. Compared to Cordey or Chantilly, Heirlooms’ lace trim was finer; i.e., more similar to the ‘Dresden’ type that was so popular at the time.

The Dresden-lace look on this lady is most obvious on her bodice and bustle; the other lace sections are similar to Cordey/Chantilly.

On the other hand, the lace decorating this figure is more similar to Cordey (although a bit ‘cleaner’ in many areas.) This dainty (6.5” high, 6” wide) lady dressed in pale green lace with gold accents is marked as design #467. For some reason, gray hair is a color more often seen in Heirlooms of Tomorrow pieces than in Chantilly; Cordey almost never used that color for hair.

Some of the Heirlooms of Tomorrow lady figures were given a specific name as well as a design number. This one is identified on the underside as ‘Emma’ along with her design number 8877. She is 9” tall.

This is the underside of ‘Monica’, another named figure.

All three factories (Cordey, Chantilly, and Heirlooms) produced small (about 8” high) companion busts like these.

early CYBIS cherub angel heads view 1The 1950s cherub head wall plaques made by Cybis in the Cordey style (lower photo) were definitely more attractive than these!

Heirlooms of Tomorrow was definitely on the ‘miniature porcelain shoe’ bandwagon of the day. Here are three examples in varying sizes. The smallest (2.25” long and 1.78” high) is the boot with the blue lace and flowers. Next (3” long and 1.5” high) is the pump with the pink lace and pink rose. The largest shoe is the pump with the pink-and-blue rosette and blue ribbon, but even so, it is not more than 2” long although it is 3.5” high.

Although at first glance these look similar to some of the figural wall plaques by Cordey, they are actually vases as well. They are 7” high and 5.25” at the widest point.

Speaking of vases, here are a pair of small lace-and-rose decorated ones that are 6” high. They could easily be mistaken for Cordey, if not for the markings.

Here is a heart-shaped trinket box with a flower-covered lid. It is 3.25” high and wide, and 2” from bottom to the top of the flower decoration. I have not seen any Cordey heart boxes, but there were three in the Cybis line (one in the 1950s, another in the 1970s, and a third in the 1980s.)

Of course, there were other styles of trinket boxes as well. This one is almost 4” high including the handle on the lid, and almost as long. It’s very similar to some Cordey offerings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the same small round box mold that Cordey (and later, Cybis) used for theirs. Heirlooms of Tomorrow used more lace, whereas the Cordey and Cybis similar boxes had much less or even none at all. This is 4” in diameter and about 3.5” high with the lid on.

This was clearly intended as a dresser set (covered box and matching jewelry trays.) Notice the gold edging on the sage-green lace.

This small (5” wide, 3” high) basket is probably not an example of their best work. It looks a bit garish, the gold accents rather sloppily done, and the color of the lace is jarring (to say the least.)

On the other hand, this clock and tray set in the same color displays better workmanship. The clock is electric and is 7” tall, 6” wide, and 3” front to back. The tray measures 12” x 8”. Notice that the face of the clock has the Heirlooms of Tomorrow logo. Although Cordey also offered some clocks, the face displays the mechanism brand (Lanshire) rather than the Cordey name.

And of course, Heirlooms of Tomorrow offered figural lamps. These lacy-lady lamps are a bit taller than 21” overall; their porcelain bases are 6” x 7”. They weigh 2.5 lbs. each. One would assume that they originally came with frilly lampshades to complete the ‘look’.

Just as a side note, decanters with “Heirlooms of Tomorrow” as part of the mold impression were not made by this company. They were made during the 1970s by a ceramics company called Roach/Feiner; the ‘heirlooms of tomorrow’ designation was merely the name of a series within their product line. Many eBay sellers mistakenly list these as being made by Heirlooms of Tomorrow, which is incorrect. They were made by Roach/Feiner.

There are also some plain dark green glazed (no lace or decoration) flamenco dancers on eBay purportedly made by Heirlooms of Tomorrow, but I have never seen any photograph showing either a mark, mold impression, or sticker with that name. The attribution may be a past mistaken attribution gone viral.

And now for the ‘twist’ to the Heirlooms of Tomorrow story. At some point – whether through executive decision or an outright sale of the company – they changed their name and focus entirely. They changed their name to California Originals in October 1949 and eliminated all of their Cordey/Chantilly-esque designs in favor of…cookie jars, ash trays, bowls and planters! They are decidedly ‘kitsch-y’ in design.

Unlike the Heirlooms items, California Originals items were not paint-stamped but they did have a sticker.  The company later moved from Manhattan Beach to Torrance, California. In addition to their own cookie-jar designs, they also produced them depicting licensed characters from Disney, Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and Sesame Street. This version of the company (California Originals) existed until 1982.

Browse posts about Cordey

Name Index of Cybis Sculptures (no Cordey)
Visual Index (for Cybis human figures/busts only)

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