The Weller Pottery was the first mass producer of art pottery. Samuel Weller was known for hiring great artists, and for his innovations. However, he also produced many so-called “mutant” pots – strange glazes and odd glazes for a given pot type.
At the March 2001 WPA meeting Chris Swart gave a wonderful presentation on Weller Art Pottery. Chris also organized our 2001 Show and Sale Exhibit on Weller and Company. Continue reading “Weller Pottery”
On September 12, 2000 WPA members met for our September meeting. Here is a brief synopsis of what Mr. William Engel presented on this much collected stoneware.
Old Sleepy Eye was a Native American Indian chief — Sleepy Eye is also the name of a town in southwestern Minnesota (located on US Highway 14). Old Chief Sleepy Eye was affectionately chosen as the mascot for a flour milling company in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. The Sleepy Eye stoneware was designed and decorated with Old Chief Sleepy Eye’s likeness and used as a promotion for selling flour; the pieces of pottery were given away with 50lb. barrels of flour. However, the government intervened in the give-aways, perhaps because the rather heavy pottery pieces had a negative affect on the amount of flour that was contained in those 50lb. barrels. The stoneware pieces were later sold, printed with advertising, to grocery stores and such.
Western Stoneware of Monmouth, Il originally produced the Sleepy Eye stoneware. Monmouth Pottery later bought the Western Stoneware plant, which at one time had the largest contract for pottery ever signed in the United States. Redwing pottery eventually surpassed this Sleepy Eye contract.
The Sleepy Eye Stoneware pieces included butter-crocks and steins, which were made around 1890. William Engel described some of the pieces as “Flemishware” — some of these pieces were marked as such on the bottoms. The Flemish-styled pieces were white with blue heads of Chief Sleepy Eye. Some pieces also had blue borders or trim around rims. Certain pieces also had an Indian chief’s head done in relief on the handle. In addition to the blue and white pieces, designs included white with brown decoration.
Some Sleepy Eye pieces were made by the Weir Pottery — these pieces are probably the most valuable today. The Weir pieces are marked “Weir” inside of a circle on the bottom.
Mr. Engel discussed how to spot reproductions of Sleepy Eye pieces — many have a hole or indentation on the inside where the handle is attached, say for a stein. Sometimes the holes have been filled in, but a black light will reveal these “repaired” pieces.
It was interesting to learn that Sleepy Eye collectors fancy stoneware and pottery from a variety of manufacturers, referring to it all as Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye shows and swapmeets contain a variety of pottery makes. Mr. Engel mentioned that there are two Brush-McCoy pieces that have Indian heads on the handles (and that these pots are included as Sleepy Eye pieces). Some believe that this was due to a Monmouth designer that also did work for Brush-McCoy.
We were shown several pieces of stoneware or pottery with the “ugly Indian” design. These pieces featured a less attractive Indian and were made sometime in the 1930s. We also saw an Indian head pitcher, white in color with a blue glazed design and a maple leaf on the bottom. These pieces had the “sucked in” handle marks on the inside. Monmouth has been known to make pieces with maple leaves on them. In addition, Whitehall pottery is known for unglazed bottoms, which these pieces had. Mr. Engel also showed sugar bowls — some white with blue and also burgundy pieces.
Redwing did two mugs for Sleepy Eye. For these pieces, the Indian head was accompanied by a saying.
Some of the examples of Sleepy Eye stoneware that Mr. Engel showed the club included a couple of mugs that featured Chief Redwing (who came before Sleepy Eye) — these mugs were signed by the artist. In addition, we saw a series of 9” vases with a dragonfly and cattails done in relief. This vase was done in approximately seven different glazes, including a black design on white, and an all black vase. These pieces were created by Monmouth, but once again, are included as Sleepy Eye stoneware.
Many thanks to William Engel for his excellent presentation on Sleepy Eye Stoneware!
by Wahpeton Pottery Company
Wahpeton, North Dakota
Linda and Bill Bakken visited the Wisconsin Pottery Association in March 2003 and gave a delightful presentation on Rosemeade Pottery.
North Dakota’s Rosemeade Pottery, well-connected to the University of North Dakota’s ceramics department, was a relatively large company in its day, with as many as 27 employees . Rosemeade is said to have turned out 1,400 pieces a day at its peak.
The company grew out of the Wahpeton Pottery Company, Wahpeton, N.D., under the direction of ND native Laura Taylor, who founded the pottery in 1940 with her husband-to-be, Robert J. Hughes.
Laura Taylor was a student and assistant, in the late 1930s, at the University of North Dakota (UND) where famed ceramist (and Minnesota native) Margaret Cable taught from 1910–49. Taylor also studied with the well-known studio potter Glen Lukens at the State University Teachers College in Valley City, North Dakota, and was a supervisor for the Federal Clay project of the Works Progress Administration from 1936–39.
She was chosen by the WPA to demonstrate throwing pottery at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. As Dr. Marion J. Nelson notes in his book “Art Pottery of the Midwest”, Taylor was apparently adept at throwing pottery, but Rosemeade’s only thrown pieces were small flower vases along with a few swirled pieces.
The Bakkens told of a 1951 article in National Geographic that featured North Dakota and included Laura Taylor Hughes, perhaps in part because she was known to use animal photos from that magazine as models for her pieces.
Marion Nelson determined that Rosemeade had some qualities unusual to figurines, that earned it the label of American art pottery. The colors of the pieces appear to have been applied with metal oxides under the glaze, a technique seldom found in figurines. The colors partially combined with the glaze and ran slightly during firing, creating a true ceramic effect. In addition, the buff color of the clay shows through, making the colors blend nicely.
Rosemeade pottery is often identified by the Rosemeade sticker or label, although Linda and Bill report sometimes finding these stickers on non-Rosemeade pieces. As well, some pieces did not get labels. The pieces are also sometimes marked on the bottom, with stamps done in dark blue or black ink. There are a few embossed marks a well. The clay for Rosemeade Pottery is often a sandy, beige color (N.D. clay) but some pieces are done in red clay too, “imported” from Kentucky. The swirl pieces have glaze on the inside, which is clear, blue or brown. A bottom stamp is the best way to identify these pieces.
The “tail-up” pheasant is the most common, best-known piece. The Bakkens received this pheasant piece as a wedding gift, although Linda admits that it stayed in the cupboard for their first 15 years of wedded bliss, because they thought it was so tacky. Now, as devoted Rosemeade collectors, she suggests that perhaps the moral is that Rosemeade pottery grows on you.
The animal figurines made by Rosemeade run the gamut: pheasants, horses, ducks, quail, chickens, bluebirds, robins, songbirds with perching stance. There were also fish figurines and cats done in unusual positions. The state flower of ND, the prairie rose, was used to decorate pin dishes, salt and peppers and spoon rests. Tulips decorate cream and sugars, salt and peppers, etc. Anne K, a friend of Laura T. Hughes, did some decorating—some of the pieces were marked Wahpeton, ND—she painted shoes and a few hearts, using a mark of “AK”.
Rosemeade Pottery was sold throughout the U.S., although concentrated in the upper midwest. Laura Taylor Hughes died in 1959 and the Rosemeade plant closed in 1961. According to the Bakkens, prices of Rosemeade have decreased in the past four years, although prices have stabilized recently.
Rosemeade collections available for viewing include: Wahpeton at the Richland County Museum and, soon to open, a collection at Bonanzaville, west of Fargo, ND.
North Dakota History: Journal of the Northern Plains has been published since 1926, and has published many articles on the pottery of North Dakota. Back issues are available and the articles are listed.
By the Way…..
Rosemeade was a very popular name for china patterns. It was used by Harker, Mikasa and Wedgwood,
Artist Fritz Scholder’s mother, Ella Mae Scholder worked for Rosemeade Pottery for several years according to North Dakota State Alumni Foundation. His father was Administrator of Indian Schools and for a time stayed at the Wahpeton Indian School. His Wisconsin connection was that he went to school in Ashland & Superior. A very interesting oral history is available at the Smithsonian Archive of American Art. As a child, he would paint envelopes and send them to famous people all over the world to sign with the postage from that country and have them sent back because he was a collector of stamps & postal covers. He recalled how he sent an envelope to Albert Einstein with his formula painted on it and he got it back signed and dated (due to the postmark).
The Roseville Pottery began producing utilitarian earthenware in Roseville, Ohio in 1890. Over the next decade, it purchased factories in nearby Zanesville where production of Art Pottery began around 1900 with the Rozane line.
Under the artistic direction of the English potter Frederick H. Rhead, the firm produced several great Art Pottery lines including Della Robbia, Mongol, Egypto, Woodland, Olympic, Fudji, Azurean, and others.
Examples of these seldom-seen lines, as well as samples of the early utility ware, opened the Wisconsin Pottery Association’s 1999 Exhibit.
By 1910, the Roseville Pottery relocated its entire operation to Zanesville, where production increasingly turned to molded ware with raised (embossed) patterns. These served as templates for hand painted decoration of the pottery.
This technique allowed less-skilled artisans to decorate more pieces, which increased the amount of ware produced, and profits. Frank Ferrell created the Roseville pottery that is most familiar and popular to antique lovers today.
A Zanesville native and artist at several area potteries, he became Roseville’s art director in 1918, and continued in that position until the plant closed in 1953.
Ferrell designed all of Roseville’s Art Pottery during this period, about 90 lines in all. Ferrell sculpted the embossed patterns, designed thousands of shapes, and chose the colors based on ceramic engineer George Krause’s beautiful and durable matt glazes.
One of the special displays within our 1999 Exhibit featured Roseville experimental vases. (See Roseville experimentals gallery.)
Almost all of the “Roseville experimentals” for sale at antique malls or on the internet are imposters. Many are routine production items from other potteries, while others may have been cast from Roseville pieces by unknown makers.
Genuine Roseville experimentals differ in several ways from ordinary production pottery: the raised patterns were hand-sculpted rather than produced from a mold, most were done on four basic shapes, many had notes and information etched on the blank side, and as such they were either one-of-a-kind, or very limited in number.
Ferrell created these experimentals to assess their potential in concrete form. Some patterns were selected for mass production, others were not.
Pine Cone line
One of Frank Ferrell’s greatest creations for Roseville was the Pine Cone line. Introduced in the early 1930s in rich blue, golden brown, and soft green glazes, it was the company’s best-selling line, and may have saved the firm from bankruptcy during the Depression, just as the Donatello pattern reversed the company’s fortunes in 1915.
Over 150 Pine Cone shapes were created, the largest number of forms in any Roseville line.
A common misconception among beginning collectors is that Roseville lines were produced for one year only; in fact, the company continued making a line, and even adding new forms to it, until sales declined. The Pine Cone line is a good example of this. Pine Cone forms can be found unmarked (they probably had the silver or gold paper label used in the early 1930s), with an impressed mark, and, most commonly, with the raised script mark that was used from 1937 until 1953. This may be evidence that new Pine Cone forms were continually being added to the line.
Furthermore, the obvious stylistic and glaze differences in the Pine Cone “400 series” (shapes with raised script numbers in the 400s) may indicate that Ferrell revisited the line in the late 1940s or early 1950s, updating or replacing some of the earlier shapes with the sleeker, modernistic style of the period.
THE NUMBER AND DIVERSITY of Roseville lines may be confusing (and a little daunting) to new collectors and those with a casual interest, but most Roseville is easily recognizable with experience.
Bottoms Up If you want to learn about antique or collectible pottery, always look at the bottom. Notice the clay color, the distribution of glaze, the width and appearance of the rim, the shape of impressed numbers or letters, and other distinguishing features. Learn to associate these features with the maker’s mark and the rest of the pot, and you learn to identify that company’s pottery when the mark is absent.
Roseville Marks From 1900 until the late teens or early 1920s, Roseville used a variety of marks including “RPCo,” “Roseville Pottery Company,” and the word “Rozane,” the last often with a line name. The underglaze, ink, script Rv mark was used on lines introduced from the mid-to-late teens through the mid- 1920s. Around 1926 or 1927, Roseville began to use a small, triangular black paper label on lines such as Futura and Imperial II. Silver or gold foil labels began to appear around 1930, continuing for several years on lines such as Blackberry and Tourmaline, and on some early Pine Cone. From 1932 to 1937, an impressed (indented) script markwas added to the molds used on new lines, and around 1937 the familiar raised (in relief) script mark was added to the molds of all new lines. The relief mark always included “U.S.A.” Most Roseville artware was marked when it left Zanesville. Some early artware, and some middle period pieces that had a removable paper label, are unmarked today.
The Shape-Size Number Roseville Pottery pieces have shape and size numbers, which are usually part of the in-mold marks used after the mid-1930s. For example, the number 728-10 refers to a 10 inch form in the Silhouette line, while the number 991-12 refers to a 12 inch vase in the white Rose line. Roseville assigned numbers to pieces produced before the in-mold marks, but these do not ordinarily appear on the pot. (These numbers occasionally are handwritten in pencil or crayon on the bottom.)
Roseville Experimentals and Trial Glazes Pots
One of the special displays in today’s exhibit is the experimental vases. Most “Roseville experimentals” for sale at antique malls or on the internet are imposters. Many are routine production items from other potteries, while others may have been cast from Roseville pieces by unknown makers. Roseville experimentals differ from production pottery in that the raised patterns were hand-sculpted rather than molded, many had notes and information etched on the blank side, and most were done on four basic shapes. Roseville experimentals are one-of-a-kind items created by Frank Ferrell to assess his designs in concrete form; some were selected for mass production, others were not.
While these rare items occasionally turn up for sale at Art Pottery shows, most are already in the hands of collectors. But it does pay to know the difference. A few years ago, two genuine Roseville experimentals, including the Firethorn on display today, were purchased for under $75 at a rural Wisconsin flea market. It remains a mystery how they got there.
Roseville Trial Glaze vases were often made on standard production forms. They were used to assess colors and glazes in addition to those ordinarily appearing in the line. Roseville trial glazes can also be identified by lines of handwritten, underglaze numbers and notes on the bottom. (Note. a few handwritten, underglaze numbers are common on ordinary Roseville, and do not indicate a trial glaze piece.) Roseville vases may appear in odd colors without this profuse notation, and the status of these items as trial glazes must be judged on a case by case basis. Wincraft, Baneda, Pine Cone, Ferrella, Jonquil, and Water Lily trial glaze vases appear in today’s exhibit.
Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery The Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery Company in Roseville, Ohio is still in operation today. It has used “Roseville, Ohio” in conjunction with “RRPCo” in several of its marks. This ware, often large planters or garden pottery, is often mistaken for the more-valuable ware of the Roseville Pottery Company. The two companies are unrelated.
Chinese-made pottery with the last Roseville trademark (a raised in-mold script “Roseville” and a shape number) became available from antique reproduction wholesalers in 1996. The first of these imports had “U.S.A.” in relief, but unlike old Roseville, had unglazed interiors. These pots bear a paper “Made in China” label which is easily removed. This pottery is not made from the original Roseville molds, nor are the original glazes used, and it appears quite different to anyone familiar with Roseville.
The first copies were items based on the Magnolia line, but additional lines have since been reproduced. Later imports saw the removal of the relief “U.S.A.,, (or it appears only faintly) from the in-mold trademark. The interiors of recent pots are fully glazed. The Chinese-made pottery varies in quality and in how closely it matches original Roseville. The Zephyr Lily reproduction in the exhibit is close, but still can be easily distinguished from the original by comparing the bottoms, while the Luffa, Iris and Jonquil reproductions are poorly done and can be spotted at a distance with a little experience.
When marketed as reproduction Roseville, the price range observed in retail shops is about $12-$35 per item, depending on size. Because these items remain in production, there is no shortage of supply and buyers should pay accordingly.
These imports, as with other such reproductions, have no interest or value for most collectors or antique dealers.
Chinese-made Roseville does appear for sale in some shops, auctions, antique malls, and flea markets with the “Made in China” labels removed. It is sometimes tagged by sellers as “New Roseville” or “Post-1954 Roseville,” or simply “Roseville.” Under these circumstances, it may be sold for prices equivalent to those paid for collectible Roseville to buyers unaware that this merchandise can be purchased in quantity from antique reproduction wholesalers for an average cost of under $10 per piece.
There may be exceptions to these of which we are unaware, or which may occur after August 1999 .1 Examples of Donatello, Panel
Blackberry, Jonquil, and Luffa with a relief script mark are reproductions. These Roseville lines had a paper label or an underglaze Rv mark. Donatello was also marked “Donatello R.P.Co.”
In general, if a piece has “Roseville” in relief without “U.S.A.” or with a blank where the “U.S.A.” should be, or with a “U.S.A.” much fainter then the rest of the mark, it is probably Chinese-made. Reproduced lines which should have the “U.S.A.” in relief include Apple Blossom, Bittersweet, Bleeding Heart, Bushberry, Clematis, Foxglove, Freesia, Magnolia, Peony, Pine Cone, Snowberry, Water Lily, white Rose and Zephyr Lily. (Note: the presence of “U.S.A.” does not guarantee authenticity since early reproductions included it.)
Many of the Chinese pieces feel sandy or coarse compared to Roseville, which feels smooth and soft. The Chinese pieces often appear flat and dull compared to the more lustrous Roseville matt glazes. The clay visible on the bottom of imported pieces is white; the clay used by Roseville (and by many Ohio potteries) is yellowish or buff-colored. The color applied to flowers and leaves on imports is often sloppily applied, and runs onto the body of the pot. Flowers may appear to be painted over the background glaze, rather than appearing to be a part of it. Handles tend to be thick and clumsy looking on the imports.
The Chinese imports often come in colors not used in the Ohio Roseville lines. For example, Blackberry reproductions come in background colors of bright blue and mint green which were never used in the original line.
Roseville Iris was produced in sky blue, tan and pink, but never in green or dark blue. Further, the Chinese imports seem to use a couple of basic shades of blue or green across all their lines while Roseville shades of the same color usually varied across lines.
Antique and Collectors Reproduction News – A Monthly Report on Antique Fakes and Reproductions. The December 1996 and May 1997 issues had articles on Chinese-made pottery with the Roseville mark. Back issues can sometimes be found on Amazon.
Chicago Illinois 1883-1888
Edgerton Wisconsin 1888-1911
Pauline Jacobus was an accomplished china painter who taught the subject in her Chicago home. After developing an interest in art pottery, she went to Cincinnati in 1881 where she studied at the Rookwood School for Pottery Decoration.
She founded the Pauline Pottery in 1883. It was the first art pottery company in Chicago.
Note: We are actively in the process of reorganizing and updating our website content. Information, galleries, and details of past shows and presentations will appear again soon. Please revisit! Thank you for your patience.
The following article appeared the WPA Press, Vol. 8, April 2001 By Kari Kenefick
Peter Flaherty spoke at our February 13, 2001 meeting on Pine Ridge Pottery. Peter gave a very interesting presentation. The following was gleaned from his notes as well as the sources noted at the end of this article.
Note: We are actively in the process of reorganizing and updating our website content. Information, galleries, and details of past shows and presentations will appear again soon. Please revisit! Thank you for your patience.
Founded by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, Pewabic has had a diverse history in ceramics. Still in operation, its is one of three Arts & Crafts period potteries in the United States.
Pewabic Pottery Founded in 1903 during the height of the Arts & Crafts Movement in America, Pewabic Pottery is today a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Arts & Crafts ideals while advancing contemporary ceramic arts through its full curriculum of educational programs, its support of individual artists, outreach to various communities, and leadership in the exhibition of contemporary and historic collections and archiving of scholarly research.
This video from the Pewabic Pottery shows the showroom & parts of the production areas.
Wherein the WPA’s webmaster, Tim Zinkgraf, becomes the WPA’s intrepid reporter: Tim recently stumbled upon a pottery goldmine on the streets of Detroit! We thank him for this special report on Pewabic Pottery Tiles in Detroit’s PeopleMover train stations.
You never know where you’ll find pottery! While looking for information on Detroit and the North American International Auto Show, I was looking at the Detroit PeopleMover web site (Detroit’s elevated train) and something caught my eye.
I clicked on a link for one of the stations, which happened, to my surprise, to have tile from the Pewabic Pottery. The tile was in storage for a Stroh Brewery that was never built, Cadillac Center Station or station #11. The pictured to the right is from that station.
The following text is borrowed from the above web site: “All of the green tiles you see were actually made in 1935 by Mary Chase Stratton at Pewabic Pottery. The green tiles were commissioned by the Stroh family for a new brewery that eventually was never built. The tiles were put in storage until 1985 when Peter Stroh donated them for use in the Art in the Stations project.
The artist incorporated all of the green tiles into her design of archways with the end result being the beautiful murals you see now. All of the tiles inside of the archways are new tiles. However, the artist made these new tiles from historic molds that were made in 1926. In fact, the original workers tiles made from these molds were installed in Northern High School back in 1929.” As noted at the web site, this station was dedicated to tile maker Mary Chase Stratton.
The following text accompanies the tiles at Time Square Station or station #1 (picture to the right): “Good example of the historic murals created at Pewabic. Very art deco, but with a modern look. Art Deco is a style of art that was first popular in the early part of this century. Features bold colors and straight lines as well as simple curved lines in the design.
This piece also incorporates the turquoise colored tiles and historic glaze for which Pewabic is known. W. Hawkins Ferry, the person in whose honor this art piece is named, was a Detroit Architect, philanthropist, and a member of our Art in the Stations Commission.” Tom Phardel, Pewabic Pottery, (designed the Times Square Station tiles.)
(The sites will open up in a new window)
The People Mover – Detroit’s elevated train system station guide. Located at many of the stations are ceramic installation, including several related to Pewabic. An interesting installation is the Cadillac Center station or #11 that uses Pewabic tile from 1935 that were intended to be used in a Stroh Brewery, but were never used. Other stations feature Pewabic or ceramic tiles