Solon & Schemmel Tile Company
San Jose, California
1920-1936

Albert L. Solon (1887-1949) was raised at Stoke-on-Trent in England, a descendant of the famous Arnoux and Solon families, master ceramists in France. After apprenticing at Mintonís under his fatherís, Louis Marc Solon, guidance, he emigrated to California in 1908, working for a number of tile and terra cotta companies before becoming director of Arequipa Pottery in 1913. His term was highlighted by his participation at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 where he established a working pottery and won Gold Medals for both the exhibit and individual pieces.

In 1920 Solon formed a partnership with Frank P. Schemmel (c. 1887-1950) to produce ceramic tiles from locally available clays. All of the tiles crafted at Solon & Schemmel were made from wet clay and, as a result, exhibit a slight irregularity. The glazes are rich in color and varied in texture, and there is a strong sense of earthiness in every finished tile. Often, tiles were produced on a press using molds that were hand-cut from linoleum; raised ridges of clay served as dams to separate the different glaze colors. Glazes were applied by hand with rubber syringes.

Both Solon & Schemmel actively engaged the architectural community and produced many special commissions including the tiles for the Steinhart Aquarium in San Franciscoís Golden Gate Park, numerous schools and theaters, and the palatial mansion of William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon.

The company changed its name to Solon & Larkin when Frank Schemmel retired in 1936 and Paul Larkin became Solonís new partner. Solon himself retired in 1947.


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