The Distinction of Moorcroft Pottery

Part of the draw, at least for many art pottery collectors, is the backstory most lines offer. The richer the history, the more exciting the finds. Moorcroft Pottery is no exception. In 1897, a young man, William Moorcroft, was creating beautiful pottery pieces for James McIntyre & Co. For a while, it was an ideal partnership until Moorcroft began signing his own works with either his signature or initials. The argument could be made that it was reasonable; after all, Moorcroft had won several awards, including a gold medal at the St. Louis International Exhibition. Soon, though, it wasn’t anything McIntyre wished to continue pursuing, especially because Moorcroft refused to cease signing his name to the works. The two soon had a falling out and Moorcroft and a few other employees left to create their own company in 1913.

Moorcroft Pottery’s Long History

The company itself became well respected and highly sought after, due to the incredible talent of the company’s founder. The Moorcroft51703company itself remained in the family until the mid-1980s and while the future may not be certain, there’s no denying the incredible artistry found in Moorcroft art pottery. What we’re left with today are striking artistic masterpieces that are elegant, vivid and intricate in detail.

Just Art Pottery maintains a varied selection from this esteemed European pottery company, including a 1902 Florian Tulips and Hearts Handled vase. Its magnificent presence is part whimsical, part romantic and completely beautiful. The vase is 12” high, which easily allows it to command. The golds and blues and contrasted with the subtle white tracing of the floral effects and leaves.

The Moorcroft Hibiscus Compote brings together two of my favorite things: the hibiscus flower and the pedestal that’s often part of many art pottery designs. The rich high gloss glaze is an added bonus. In this 1949 design, you’ll notice the rich emerald green that covers the bowl with a multi-toned Hibiscus placed squarely in the bottom of the vessel. For contrast, the pedestal is a rich, glossy black that adds a more contemporary look and feel. This mint condition compote stands 4” tall and is 6 ½” wide. It’s classic Moorcroft.

Moorcroft Pottery Availability

If it’s subtle color elements and distinction you’re looking for, you really should consider Moorcroft Pottery. Many of the earlier, higher quality pieces are in museums, which means limited offerings available for collectors. In fact, the Victoria & Albert museum holds some of the most significant pieces (Moorcroft was appointed the Queen’s official pottery in 1928) and other prestigious museums also have permanent collections. We’re fortunate in that Just Art Pottery offers several pieces from this refined collection and invite you to browse our Moorcroft Pottery.

McCoy Pottery – How it Changed its Image in the Public Eye & Succeeded

Few companies are able to make a comeback, and certainly within its first two decades of existence, after recreating its image. Doing it in the public eye is even more challenging. Yet, for McCoy Pottery, it not only successfully pulled it off, but when it did re-emerge, it found an even greater stage.

McCoy in Zanesville

Like many American art pottery companies, McCoy got its start in the heart of art pottery paradise: Zanesville, Ohio. Founded in 1910 by Nelson McCoy and his father, J.W. McCoy, the company first set its sights on more utilitarian designs.  They found success, but it made what can only be described as rookie mistakes. It seemed as though it had a bit of an identity crisis in those earlier days.

Along with creating functional stoneware, it also was in the clay mining business. It partnered with close to a dozen other stoneware companies to define the American Clay Products Company. These designs were functional, just like McCoy’s own pottery designs, though there was nothing to really set the company apart and certainly there were no markings that revealed its collective origin. There was a bit of confusion: was McCoy Pottery now a part of ACPC or were they still two separate entities?

The public wouldn’t get the opportunity to figure it out as ACPC fell apart in the late 1920s.

Shifting Models

Three years later, smarter for the experience, Nelson and his father began rethinking and redefining the initial business model. Those first few years were challenging and by the mid 1930s, the writing on the wall was clear: interest in pottery as foodware was waning. The father/son duo had to rethink things yet again. Enter the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company.

The designs shifted and a new artist, Sydney Cope, played a significant role in defining the look and feel for the artistic efforts. The winds of change were still blowing, though and by the 1940s, and in response to the war, the company found itself making clay landmines.

It was also during this time that McCoy brought its technology up to par.

McCoy Redefined 

The war ended and before long, McCoy had finally found its identity. That identity included a maker of a more whimsical presentation. McCoy Pottery became synonymous with the cookie jars collectors still look for today. They’re highly collectible and it’s been suggested that McCoy designs are as prone as Roseville Pottery designs when it comes to counterfeiters looking to make fast money on fake pieces.

Just Art Pottery New Inventory

By now, many Just Art Pottery clients head straight to the new inventory page on the website. It’s where collectors get a head start on finding those rare pieces they might have been seeking for years or they might find an unexpected gem. If you’ve not visited the New Additions page, here’s what you’re missing:

Cambridge Pottery Vase

This classic Cambridge Pottery vase is representative of everything that defined the American art pottery company; the glossy brown glaze being the most obvious. This vase stands 6” tall and is 4” wide. It’s in mint condition and that classic glossy glaze is emphasized with the floral pattern in rich hues of gold and orange. The shape itself adds to the appearance as it has a slight narrowing midway down the design. If you’re a Cambridge Pottery fan, this is a remarkable addition to any collection.

Door Pottery Art Deco Vase 

This is another must-see for anyone drawn to the more contemporary designs in this particular art sector. The matte glaze incorporates hues of brown, and at first glance, it could resemble wood. It’s a classic Door Pottery design, indicative of the art deco model it’s so well known for.

If you’re a collector of the traditional Zanesville potters and haven’t really considered some of the more modern lines, Door Pottery is a fine place to start. Admittedly, I have always been drawn to McCoy pieces and several Roseville patterns, but over the past year or so, I’ve found a new appreciation for these art deco lines and I can’t help but wonder why it took me so long to “discover” it.

Ephraim Faience “Black Bears in a Cave” Vase 

At first glance, unless you’re an avid Ephraim Faience collector, you might not recognize this vase as part of its collection. Of course, the attention to detail, the truly artistic ways the hues reflect off of the others and just the presentation in general gives it away. This vase is 10 ¼” tall and at its widest is 6 ½” wide.  There are a few other Ephraim Faience pieces available on the New Additions page, as well.

Don’t forget new inventory is added all the time and to stay in touch with everything going on at Just Art Pottery, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on the Just Art Pottery Facebook page, too.

Roseville Creamware

Ah – the Roseville Creamware line. This is definitely one of those collections that you’ll spend your life searching for because you’re so drawn to it or it will be one you’ll steer clear of – love it or strongly dislike it.

Roseville Pottery Creamware

Maybe one of the reasons this is, first, one of the more versatile Roseville design lines, but more importantly, not a favorite among some collectors is because of the decals. Some thought they were being shortchanged with this collection, but once you consider the times, it becomes clear as to why the pottery company incorporated these less-expensive decals. Production costs were always in the forefront and consumers were watching their funds closely.

There often wasn’t enough in the budget for decorative pieces and when there were, it had better be an affordable venture, or the consumer of the day would walk right on by. This, coupled with the end of the so-called Arts & Crafts era, proved to be a challenge for the art industry as a whole and certainly those in art pottery.

In the early 1900s, the Roseville Creamware was unveiled, complete with its decals. There were floral patterns, people – sometimes animated, messaging (several fraternal societies used Creamware for coffee mugs, complete with the frat’s branding – and an extensive line called Juvenile.

If you can get past the absence of bold artistic efforts and rich color hues, Creamware really is a lovely collection; unfortunately, anyone who agrees often does so as an afterthought. It’s just not one of those lines that catch your eye. Then there are those that just look misplaced.

There is a rather interesting design – one of those that look out of place. The Creamware chamber pot throws you for a loop. First, it’s heavily decorated on the outside with “Novelty Steins” – mostly kids. But when you lift the lid, many discover this eye painted in the center of the pot. It’s really remarkable as it looks quite real, much the way a 3-D eye would appear in a more modern setting. Some of those pots also have a message: “Wash me out and keep me clean and I won’t tell what I have seen.”

The Juvenile pieces almost always have decals of children in various ages. Some offer up nursery rhymes as well. Even though it was heavily produced for quite some time, it is considered a valuable line and one that’s highly sought after.

 

The Inspiration for Roseville Olympic

The brick reds, glossy black and pale yellows found in the Roseville Olympic line suggests a Greek approach from the artist. It’s a striking line, most of which have those deep glosses that really allow them to stand out. But if indeed believe the early 1900 line is simply a Greek influence, you might want to rethink that.

In fact, John Flaxman, another well known artist of his time, mostly for his Neo-Classical designs, was the true inspiration. Some say the images are absolute efforts of reproductions.  And going even further back before Flaxman, the argument’s been made that Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey – both tragedies – was the foundation of the inspiration.

The pieces themselves are modeled after the Roseville Creamware; the red pigments were applied over the bodies, careful to camouflage any similarity to the Creamware line. From there, decorators were tasked with transferring the reproduced lines to the bodies, and from there, the artists completed the final look.

And here’s another interesting element: Olympic wasn’t the only line that drew its inspiration from Flaxman. Both Della Robbia and Old Ivory have remarkable similarities, even if they’re not as obvious as those in the Olympic line.

Most of the Olympic pieces were marked with “Rozane Pottery” and were the last of these striking Roseville Pottery designs that defined Rozane.

This particular line is also one of the more expensive lines. The color combinations are rich and generous as they drape the various vessels. There’s a lot of detailing in this line, too. Often, you’ll discover intricate pattern décor along the baselines, necks or even right inside the design. It really is a beautiful line to collect.

As mentioned, this line was introduced in the early 1900s and was instantly popular in those early days. Even by today’s standards, this line presents as quite contemporary and is as popular today as it was then.

Roseville Candlesticks

Candlesticks are some of the most collected items in American art pottery and Roseville has some of the most remarkable design elements and glazes. Many Roseville Pottery collectors say their collection began with just one pair of candlesticks. Most were hooked and knew they had to continue building their collection. Take a look at a few of the most popular patterns. Eclectic or traditional, glossy or matte finishes – there’s a Roseville pattern for everyone.

And speaking of eclectic, the Roseville Futura includes a candlestick design and it’s unlike anything else most have seen. First, the mouth is square and narrows the closer to the base you get. These designs have two complementing glazes – a bluish/green and more of an eggshell glaze really set these apart. But what draws the eye are the bulb shapes that grace the bottom of the candlesticks. It’s an acquired taste for many, but for the hardcore Futura collectors, this is a must have.

Apple Blossom remains one of the more popular Roseville patterns. Candlesticks are part of this line and they boast the traditional apple tree branch in the handles. The green glaze was smart and it works well with the brown and white that are part of the Apple Blossom charm. It’s little wonder that this was one of those strongest sellers when it was unveiled all those years ago.

Ah – but it’s the Roseville Dahlrose that will catch your attention and hold it. This line has a few bud vases, complete with plenty of decorative elements. Interestingly, these elements don’t overwhelm the presentation and because the bud vases are small, they easily double as candlesticks. That’s just part of the versatility a few of the Roseville patterns bring to the table. Browns and usually a few shades of green define the glazes and the abundance of the white Dahlrose against a textured body just works beautifully.

Many – if not most – of the Roseville patterns have at least one candlestick design. For those who are just beginning their collections, starting with candlesticks or even wall pockets will allow for a great start and will surely drive your passion for adding to your collection. There’s nothing better than coming across a pair of these beauties that you never knew existed. It’s an exhilarating feeling, especially if you’re able to add them to your own collection.

What Art Pottery Consumers Should Expect

There are so many American art pottery lovers who are leery about purchases they make. It’s understandable; there are plenty of unethical dealers who are less interested in maintaining the authenticity of the sector and more interested in taking the money and running. There exists a code of ethics and reputable sellers adhere to these rules and are committed to running honest, above the board businesses. Here is the foundation in which Just Art Pottery operates.

The American Art Pottery Association is responsible for defining what those business practices and ethics are. One of the most important guidelines is that sellers must adhere to any contract, either verbal or written. Those art pottery dealers who are dedicated to the industry will not rescind a contractual offer, but instead, will honor it.

Not only that, but today’s art pottery is often bought and sold online. This presents unique challenges for businesses that are seeking to build trust in the community. It’s challenging because as consumers, we’re all leery of what we purchase online. We’re worried about our financial information floating around and we’re worried that we’ll receive something and discover it’s nothing like it was advertised. All it takes is one person who doesn’t respect good business habits to make things hard for all others. That’s why it’s even more important that a seller accurately demonstrate any damage. Ideally, he will provide clear photos so that consumers can make informed decisions. Further, ensuring the prices are prominently displayed is also important; it’s all about transparency.

Despite a seller’s best efforts, sometimes damage isn’t pointed out until after the piece has been bought and shipped to its new owner. A reputable company will make it right. More importantly, a company must provide definitive policies so that its customers will make their selections with fewer worries about what his options are should the product not live up to his expectations.

The dynamics associated with art pottery dealers are poles apart from those who sell new merchandise or other retailers. We’re buying and selling pieces that have been owned by others and that have been around for decades – that’s the whole purpose, right? That doesn’t mean quality isn’t an important element.

For the vast majority of sellers, these rules are no-brainers and for Just Art Pottery, we take great pride in putting these practices in place every day. If you haven’t browsed our inventory lately, now’s a great time – we have many outstanding new arrivals that we’re excited about. Have comments or feedback? Drop us a line or join the conversation on Facebook.

 

Brouwer Pottery

While it’s not one of the most well known lines of American art pottery, Brouwer Pottery has an important place in history. If you’re familiar with George Ohr pottery, you know his pieces are often quite intense, which, according to everything known about the Mississippi artist, isn’t surprising considering it mirrored his personality.

Brouwer Pottery is most often compared to that same intensity. In fact, some art pottery experts say Brouwer Pottery is an “acquired taste”. Maybe so, but for those who can appreciate the eclectic presentation, it truly is magnificent.

Theophilus Brouwer invented the open kiln glazing method. If you’re not familiar with this particular process, it includes metal tongs that were placed in the pieces as they were being fired. It became known as “fire painting” and the results are stunning. There are so many hues and color variations that come to life during this process that these artistic efforts are easy to recognize even today. Not only that but Brouwer made his own molds and did all of the casting.

Unlike other lines of American art pottery, damage isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for collectors and often isn’t a factor when it comes to the value. The stunning glaze more than makes up for small nicks, which is a good thing since the firing process didn’t bode well for hardening the pieces. That said, some believe the lighter colors consistently lacked vibrancy and as a result, were under appreciated – both then and now.

This is interesting considering some of those pieces are valued upwards of $10,000. Of course, pieces can still be found for less than $1000. The ease in which damage can be done to these pieces means those with no nicks or damage at all will likely continue to increase in the coming years.

There are plenty of stories about the eccentricities of the talent behind the pottery line and, like Ohr’s pottery, those who do know the backstory are that much more drawn to this pottery collection.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Fulper Pottery

Fulper Pottery is arguably one of the most varied lines of American art pottery. It’s also consistently increased in value over the years and because there are so many influences, it remains now and likely always be highly sought after. Here are ten things you might not have known about this exceptional line.

  • Fulper Pottery underwent several name changes during its existence and wasn’t always a true art pottery manufacturer. Samuel Hill was the first owner and in 1815, his Flemington New Jersey company sold drain tile. By the mid 1850s, one of his employees, Abraham Fulper, became a partner and after Hill’s death, Fulper bought the company.
  • Initially, the new company began as a stoneware producer and offered more functional pieces such as pitchers and bowls.
  • Fulper was produced for just twenty five years and in that time, there were more than 1,000 shapes and sizes.
  • The most recognized line is Vasekraft. It was introduced in late 1909 by the original founder’s grandson, William Hill Fulper II. He was also one of the earliest artists who took risks with different color variations.
  • Another reason it’s so varied is because of cultural influences. The earliest pieces had a German flair, most likely because of German potter John Martin Stagl. Oriental is considered the dominating influence in those middle years and eventually, there was a definitive art deco style that was more of an influence.
  • The glazing during those earliest years, again, influenced by Stangl, are often described as “curious” and present as a “vertical rectangle” stamp. This marking can be found on the pottery pieces up until around 1920.
  • If you come across a lighter clay body, odds are, it’s one of the later pieces.
  • Fulper Pottery is the first company to offer a single color glazed dinnerware in the United States. The year was 1920.
  • The Flemington plant was destroyed in 1929 by a fire. The company relocated to Trenton, New Jersey.
  • By 1955, the name had changed again to Stangl Pottery and once again began offering the more functional pieces.

 

Pillin Pottery

Polia Pillin began her studies of ceramics in Chicago, at the Hull House, after she’d established herself as a talented painter years earlier. By the late 1940s, the artist and her husband, also an artist in his own right, set up shop in Los Angeles. It began, as many great things often do, in their garage. Make no mistake – these two were a pair and one simply could not create without the presence and efforts of the other. William was the one who appreciated unexpected finds in glazes while Polia saw what every piece should look like in her mind’s eye. Unlike other potters, whose markings vary over the years, Pillin art pottery pieces are marked with a stylized Pillin signature.

Pillin Pottery may not be as mainstream as its other artistic counterparts, but there is an elegance and sophistication found in this Polish artist’s works. Polia and William Pillin worked as a team from the moment they founded their pottery studio in 1948. While William shaped the various pots, vases and other designs, Polia hand painted each one. It doesn’t take long to realize her favorite subjects included living things – dancers, birds, fish, horses and other “women of interesting allure”.

She was inspired by Picasso. And, much like Picasso, whatever vessel was presented to her by her husband, she allowed that to define what the project would ultimately become. An odd-shaped plate or tile worked nicely as a canvas to paint an upright woman with long flowing hair with a blackbird perched on her knee. A full vase was ideal for a plump fish and the more contemporary vases that were tall and narrow were just right for her to explore shapes, lines and color combinations.

It comes as little surprise then that many experts cite the artistry, more so than the shapes, as most interesting. There’s a subdued mystery that seems to be crafted into these works of art. Part of that could be because these art potters aren’t mainstream and frankly, we don’t know as much about these artists as we do those associated with the Roseville Pottery or Weller Pottery names. Either way, though, there’s no denying the markings and when you come across one, you know you have discovered a jewel. It’s believed much of these Pillin Pottery works remain undiscovered.