A History of Gregorian Copper
Gregorian Copper - A Family Business
P. R. Gregori and his brother Fred started Gregori Copper in 1946 in Southern California. The newly formed Gregori Copper company began modestly in the garage of the Gregori brothers' parent's home in Capistrano Beach. In two short years, they were able to move into their permanent facility in San Clemente. Soon, Gregori Copper was shipping copper items all over the U.S. and to Latin America.
P. R. Gregori, the artist/founder of the company, was educated at the Butler Art Institute in Youngstown, Ohio. After WW II, he received hands-on experience at Craftsman Studios in Laguna Beach, California, an artistic commune in the 1920s that evolved into a facility that produced a wealth of copper products in the Arts and Crafts style. This experience inspired Gregori and his brother Fred to start Gregori Copper.
Gregorian Copper Mark
To be sure the copper piece you're looking at is a genuine item from the Gregorian factory, look for the copper foil label on the back. You'll also find pieces that are marked with an engraving of cursive handwriting script that says Gregorian Copper along with a number.
The number refers to the item itself, kind of like an old-fashioned bar code. It doesn't refer to the quantity of that particular piece that was made at the factory, like when art pieces are numbered. This number refers to the model number of the particular item.
The Engraved Script Mark
The Gregorian Copper Manufacturing Process
While Fred Gregori handled sales, P.R. Gregori not only ran the manufacturing site but was also the artist behind the copperworks. He designed all of the copper products and even made his own tools and dyes. Using large sheets of copper in various gauges, Gregori fashioned utilitarian but extremely beautiful items using hand tools and even a spinning lathe.
Each object was hand-beaten and finished with an acid bath. Gregori developed a special bluing process that gave each piece a depth of color and then he hand-rubbed them with steel wool, creating either a solid copper finish or a satin finish. To ensure that the copper would retain its color, it was lacquered with a gun sprayer and then baked for 40 minutes.
The Gregorian Copper 313 Bowl
The Gregorian Copper 313 Bowl is one of the most famous pieces from the Gregorian factory. It measures approximately 6.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall. This bowl has a ruffled edge and a raised leaves and berries motif in the center of the interior. The hammered copper is beautiful and the pedestal foot gives it an elegant feel.
What Happened to the Gregorian Copper Company?
At the height of Gregori Copper's business, it employed 25 people and garnered annual sales of half a million dollars. In 1968, the company was sold to Sunbell, and the copperworks was eventually moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and continued to produce beaten copper products well into the 80s.
P.R. Gregori and his wife moved to New Mexico, but soon returned to California where P.R. opened a dining establishment, Papa Pio's Italian Restaurant, in Dana Point. Sunbelt sold the company twenty years ago to a firm in Lemmon, South Dakota, that became Gregorian Inc.. This company now produces giftware, using various metals and resins, including delicate jewelry made with copper, but nothing like the classic Gregorian Copper pieces that the Gregori brothers made.
A Beautiful Gregori Copper Tray
Recent Selling Prices of Gregorian Copper Pieces
- Sold on 11/28/12 for $9.99.
- Vintage decorative copper basket signed Gregorian.
- Very good condition and very attractive piece.
- Over 8" tall.
- 10" long and 8" wide.
Sold on 11/28/12 for $14.88.
Vintage collectible Gregorian Copper hand hammered #508 cigar ashtray. Good used age-appropriate condition with great patina. Inside bottom of ashtray shows wear and use. Measures 5 3/4 inches by 6 3/4 inches across the top.
Wall Plate or Charger
Sold on 11/28/12 for $6.99.
This is for a 13 1/2" vintage solid hand hammered Gregorian Copper hanging wall plate / charger with rope edging. No markings on this one but I just sold another a week ago that was marked engraved Gregorian Copper. Hand hammered on back. This plate is in pretty good condition with a few minor scratches and signs of wear. Has great patina!
Sold on 11/27/12 for $13.50.
Neat old cup with some general wear as shown including a couple of dings/small dents.
Sold on 11/27/12 for $10.00.
This 8" high solid copper coffee pot by Gregorian is 5 1/2" in diameter at the bottom and 3 1/2 " at top is over 35 years old. It is in very good condition but does exhibit a few age related tarnish spots in several locations that enhance its overall patina.
Sold on 11/16/12 for $11.48.
This beautiful Gregorian bowl is 9" in diameter, 2-Â½" tall and has crimped edges for extra strength. The Gregorian copper label is still affixed to the bottom. Gregorian used stick-on labels on most pieces (rather than embossing/etching) as labels did not show through to the front of single-ply pieces such as this bowl.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.