Rookwood Pottery’s Mississippi Connection

Rookwood Pottery is truly one of those American classics – not only in terms of art pottery, but in its totality as a business model. It survived the Great Depression when companies around the nation were folding. It’s undergone many changes in ownership, barely missed being sold to international buyers and through it all, the talent that is Rookwood Pottery continued to turn out some of those most beautiful collections the art pottery community has ever known.  What many people don’t know is that Rookwood Pottery temporarily relocated to Starkville, Mississippi in 1959. The ownership had just changed hands once again and even though the company had survived those difficult years in the 1930s, it struggled for many years after the Depression. The move to Mississippi was designed to put the company back at the top of its game. Unfortunately, it was unable to do so and as a result, folded (albeit temporarily) in 1967. At the time, no one knew for sure whether this American pottery company would be able to make a successful comeback.

Rookwood Pottery now calls Cincinnati home. It was purchased in the early 1980s by an in Ohio physician. Upon learning that Rookwood might be relocating to another country, Dr. Arthur Townley made his decision. He moved fast and indeed, invested all of his savings, in a bid to keep the company here in the U.S. This was in 1982. More recently, Rookwood Pottery was moved yet again to the Cincinnati area – on Race Street to be specific -and in 2006, Dr. Townley agreed to sell his assets, which included trademarks and even glaze recipes. This was surely a difficult decision for the dentist, but for the same reasons he purchased the company all those years ago, he believed it was the right thing to do.

Regardless of what ultimately happens with this company, there is no denying the indelible mark it left on the art pottery world as a whole and our society. Rookwood Pottery continues to increase in both its value and the number of those who are just beginning to see what many have known for decades.

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