A large BAY KERAMIK vase in the 1960s-era blue-on-red Tunis décor. A long round tapered neck with a double-ring handle rises from a substantial square base, all decorated with a raised geometric design of hash marks, dots, and slashes placed rhythmically around the circumference of the vase body. The height is approximately 14 ½", and the bottom is roughly 5 ¼" square on a raised recessed base. The Tunis décor is often attributed to Bodo Mans, but there is no supporting evidence that we are aware of.

BAY KERAMIK was founded in western Germany in 1934 by Eduard Bay (1909–1978), in the town of Ransbach-Baumbach, in the heart of the Kannenbäckerland (or “potters’ land”)—a historic center of the ceramics industry and the site of Europe’s largest clay deposit. Prior to the early 1950s, the firm’s output was largely utilitarian. The rare artware pieces that date from the ’30s and ’40s were inspired by the Jugendstil movement and are covered in molded patterns of natural forms and glazed discretely in grays, greens, and browns. From the mid-’50s on, however, ever-increasing numbers of decorative items were brought into production. Painted geometric motifs were originally popular, a noteworthy example being the Florenz décor from 1955.

Sales grew rapidly. Already by the beginning of the ’60s, BAY KERAMIK was among the leading makers of German art pottery. Bodo Mans—probably the best-known ceramics designer of the Mid-Century era—was employed at the firm from 1959 through 1975. His work for BAY (and for other companies, as well) remains highly collectible to this day.

Through the 1970s, BAY KERAMIK focused on forms with molded patterns. Finished in strong colors, such pieces arguably represent the best work the firm ever produced. Many outstanding examples are found within the following Bodo Mans’ series: Ravenna (1961), Istanbul (1961), Iberia (1962), and Bristol (1962). “Fat-lava” glazes were uncommon, but are occasionally seen as part of the decoration in combination with molded patterns.

BAY KERAMIK used white clay exclusively. Identifying marks are almost always molded onto the base. The name “BAY” often appears; the country of origin is typically noted as either “WEST-GERMANY” or “W-GERMANY.” From the end of the 1960s through the early 1970s, BAY offered a line of distinctive figurines, four of which are recorded in extant catalogs: A woman with a fruit basket, a horse, an elephant, and a bull. The designer responsible is unknown, and the figurines are unmarked.

BAY KERAMIK’s art pottery production held constant well into the 1980s and included some striking work, often showcasing utterly fantastic specialty glazes. On the other hand, the company also released a huge amount of kitsch for the tourist trade. Ceramics were manufactured for several years following the 1990 reunification of Germany. Some fairly interesting forms were crafted during this period, but the work is of limited interest to collectors.


  • Bodo Mans, 1959–1975
  • Josef Koch, 1967–1988
  • A Seidel
  • Ludwig (Lu) Klopfer

BODO MANS (1936-2001) followed a two-year apprenticeship as a window dresser and decorative painter with formal graphics design training in Cologne in 1951. Between 1954 and 1956 he completed a degree at the Higher Ceramic School in Höhr-Grenzhausen. He was employed briefly as a ceramic painter by Keto before taking a temporary job at the Madoura company in Vallauris on the French Riviera (where Picasso's ceramic designs were being realized). After his return to Germany and a short stint with Ruscha, he began working as a designer for Marei Keramik. He remained with the firm until the end of 1958, and his designs during his tenure show clear influences from his earlier work at Keto.

After initial submissions to Bay Keramik in Ransbach-Baumbach were accepted, Mans began providing both form and décor designs as a freelancer in 1959 before being hired permanently in 1962. That same year, he became a founding member, along with Liesel Spornhauer and others, of the German ceramicist group “Muffel.” His creations received significant attention at their exhibitions for their color and technique. Mans officially retired from Bay in 1975 but continued to work as a freelance industrial designer, painter, graphic artist, and journalist for many years. He died in 2001.



Production Period/Year – 1960s

Designer – BODO MANS

Design Period/Year – 1960s


Styles/Movements – MID-CENTURY MODERN

Materials – CERAMIC

Colors – RED, BLUE

Condition – Excellent vintage condition. May show minor traces of wear consistent with age and use.

Dimensions – 5 ¼" W × 5 ¼" D × 14 ½" H

Quantity Available – 0