Van Briggle Pottery – Mountain Crag Brown Glaze

Below is a guest post from noted Van Briggle author and collector Kathy Honea

Described in Van Briggle early literature as a glaze containing the browns and greens found in a mountain crag, this glaze consists of a rich honey-brown with over spray of a medium-bright green.

Although certainly numerous shades of brown and green glazes were produced within the first decade of Van Briggle pottery production, this particular combination of these specific colors was prevalent in the 1920s until the mid-1930s period. Historically, the story has been repeated that the formulas for these colors were lost in the flood of 1935; which destroyed the east side of the Van Briggle Memorial Pottery building, and swept pottery, molds and written documents into the adjacent river.

Two different Van Briggle sales postcards, dating to the early 1920s; depict Van Briggle design examples, and list the glazes available as: Mulberry, Turquoise Blue and Mountain Crag Brown. These same three glaze colors were also listed in early brochures.Van Briggle Mountain Crag Brown

A few pottery examples from the 1950s have mysteriously surfaced in the Mountain Crag Brown glaze. This has been explained by Fred Wills, Van Briggle potter from 1947 to 1988, who corroborated that a potter who had worked in the 1930s and remained at Van Briggle Pottery into the 1950s, did prepare the Mountain Crag Brown glazes once and fired some pieces for sale. Fred Wills explains that potters preparing glazes multiple times, would have the formulas memorized and it would not be unusual for them to be able to reproduce them years later.

For some unknown reason, the name of the Mountain Crag Brown glaze was later incorrectly repeated as “Mountain Craig Brown” and stories even surfaced that the glaze may have been named after the Colorado painter, Charles Craig. Two previous Van Briggle authors have agreed that the perpetuation of the “Mountain Craig Brown” name has been in error.

Although commonly, but incorrectly, still referred to as “Mountain Craig Brown” we can definitely state that the early literature named the popular glaze “Mountain Crag Brown” and even elaborated the rationale for the glaze, as representing the colors found in a mountain crag.

Kathy Honea
Van Briggle Notes & More, page 168

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