Roseville Pottery Florals: Roseville Sunflower, Water Lily

There are countless patterns, glazes, shapes and color combinations that define the Roseville Pottery as a whole. One of those themes is the creativity and elegance found in those lines of florals. Some are definitive, such as the Roseville Sunflower or Apple Blossom collections and others are a little less obvious, such as those sometimes found in Roseville Crystal Green, which, incidentally, remains difficult to find.

We thought we’d explore two of the more recognized Roseville Pottery lines: the Roseville Water Lily and Roseville Sunflower. There are a few similar features, but for the most part, each is quite distinctive in its own way. For instance, the Roseville Sunflower patter is considered middle period collection, as it was introduced 1930. The Water Lily pattern was unveiled in 1943.

Roseville Sunflower

Easily distinguished by the golds in the sunflowers and often with a green foundation, the Roseville Sunflower pattern is really quite sought after – from the time it was introduced until modern day, it’s often which serves as a striking complement to those vivid oranges and gold in the raised sunflowers.

It enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 1990s, and as a result, its value increased, too. If you’re looking for markings, because paper labels were sometimes used, it might be you come across a Roseville bowl or vase with no marking. There were some that had hand written shape numbers, which can help with identification. Many of the pieces had dual handles, which certainly adds to the overall presentation. A few of the examples of Sunflower pottery include umbrella stands, wall pockets, and of course, bowls and vases.

Roseville Water Lily

As mentioned, Water Lily is one of the newer lines and was introduced in 1943. Its standard colors are brown, blue, and pink, which blend in a beautiful manner. Like Roseville Sunflower, the Water Lilly also has several vases with two handles. Part of the draw to this particular pattern are the unique textures. The florals are raised and the smooth matte finish works to really accentuate the design elements. This Roseville Pottery pattern includes vases, bowls, bookends, ewers, jardinières and others.

The Talent Behind the Grueby Pottery Name

Most American art pottery companies, especially at the turn of the century and then again during the Great Depression were all too familiar with cultivating talent, only to lose that talent to the competition or because the talent was needed elsewhere – even if that “elsewhere” had little to do with the art pottery sector.

This week, we take a look at some of the best talent that at one time or another called Grueby Pottery their employer. We start with none other than William Henry Grueby.

Grueby hadn’t shown much of an infinity for tiles or other art pottery in his youth; instead, he had to find a job – any job – when he left school in 1882. That job would be a CA Wellington an Co., which specialized in decorative arts. Eight years later in 1890, Grueby and a friend he met while working at CA Wellington left to form their own company. That friend, of course, was Eugene Atwood and the company was aptly named Atwood and Grueby.

Eugene Atwood

Atwood remained with Atwood and Grueby until 1894. It was then he decided to strike out on his own. His company produced architectural faience and enameled bricks. Six years later, Atwood Faience found itself in reorganization and eventually new management took over. When that happened, it was renamed Hartford Faience.

There was also a third partner, though his name was never on the letterhead. William Hagerman Graves had graduated college more than a few times and continued to rack up degrees when he was approached to serve as treasure to Atwood & Grueby. As far as most historians believe, Graves had created a single piece of Grueby Art Pottery – a blue bowl that was inspired by Japanese influences. Eventually, he left the company and went to work for a tile company.

Karl Langenbeck

Langenbeck was a brilliant man who had received significant training in chemistry, which he put to use when he was approached in 1908 by Grueby Faience to work out “technical problems”. Langenbeck is one of those talents mentioned above – those who come and go. He’d already worked for Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati in the role of a glaze expert in the late 1800s.

Finally, we take a look at one of those creative minds behind the Grueby name. Ruth Erickson created a beautiful fern handled vase. So unique was it that it was exhibited at the Newark Museum and then a year later, in 1911, the museum purchased it to have on permanent display. Erickson also was the talent behind several of the Grueby tobacco jars. If you have any, you might notice a marking of 1/21/01 – one not familiar with art pottery might wrongly assume the marking is indicative of 2001, which, of course, is not so. Most of those tobacco jars were made in 1901.

The talent and business minds who defined this art pottery company were many. Some were around for the long haul, while others made contributions and then moved on. Regardless, what we’re left with today is a versatile and beautiful line of American art pottery.

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.

Rookwood Pottery Flowing Glaze

“Translucent” is one adjective used to describe the Rookwood Pottery Flowing Glaze finish. It’s rich, glossy and doesn’t overwhelm the piece. It incorporated many colors and while they were allowed to flow together (hence, “Flowing Glaze”), one color never overwhelmed the other – they co-existed in glorious and beautiful harmony.

Interestingly enough, there were those pieces where the glazes covered the hand painted images in their entirety, though the end result was always worth the sacrifice. This particular Rookwood Pottery glaze was used “officially” between 1897 and 1901 though some historians believe it could have been used as late as 1904. This reasoning comes from the showing of the glaze line during the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which was held in St. Louis.

One reason many collectors appreciate lines such as this is because there is virtually no way to duplicate a previous effort. Each is its own unique masterpiece. Another reason is because of the short time duration it was used. It’s been suggested it was influenced by Asian trends, which sounds reasonable. There’s no denying the dramatic effects and the glossy look only adds to the depth.

Another lovely Rookwood Pottery glaze is found in the Pink Tinted glaze line. A bit more feminine, and absolutely stunning, the pinks and even deep plums certainly hold their own next to the Flowing Glaze. Regardless of which of the glaze lines you’re drawn to, it’s not until you hold it in your hands and see the detailing and artistry that no photo can ever do justice to. The textures, the way they easily meld together – it’s truly an experience.

Be sure to visit the Just Art Pottery Rookwood Pottery page for more of these beautiful glaze lines. If you’re new to Rookwood Pottery, it’s certainly going to become one of your favorites due to its versatility and flowing elements. Also, check our new arrivals page too. This is where you’ll find those recently added Rookwood pieces.

A Loss to the Newcomb Pottery Family

Dr. Jessie J. Poesch, considered one of the most renowned scholars of Newcomb Pottery, passed away April 23, 2011 at the age of 88 in New Orleans. It’s being reported by The Times Picayune that her death was a result of surgery complications. Referring to her as a “scholar blessed with unflagging curiosity”, William Ferris, a long time friend of Dr. Poesch, said “…she pioneered the field of Southern decorative arts”. Those closest to her acknowledge her impressive education and ability to speak easily on any number of topics and quickly say it’s her genuine personality and distinct kindness people will remember most. “Brilliance and personal warmth don’t always go together, but she combined them to a rare degree”.

Dr. Poesch arrived at Tulane in 1963 and was already considered a pioneer and historian of American art and architecture. The Iowan native graduated from Antioch College in Ohio, at which time she began work with the American Friends Service Committee in France and Germany following World War II. Still dedicated to the importance of education, Dr. Poesch, upon her arrival back to the states, then received her M.A. from the University of Delaware, followed by her Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania.

With her passion for American art pottery, Dr. Poesch made the decision to come south, where she taught History of Art at Newcomb College Art Department, part of Tulane University. It’s said she trained hundreds of students while there and even found time to chair the department between 1972 and 1977. In 1986, she was named to the Maxine and ford Graham Chair. Her official retirement in 1992 lent to an endowed art professorship that was established in her honor that same year.

Those who knew her say retirement was nothing but a word as she continued to move forward in her volunteer and research efforts. Sally Main, an author who collaborated with Dr. Poesch in 2003 as they penned a book on Newcomb Pottery, said, “She had other things to say”. And indeed she did.

Dr. Poesch will continue to live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. Her death is a loss to the entire Newcomb Pottery family.

The American Art Pottery Move in its Infancy

Sometimes we can develop a deeper appreciation for things, such as American art pottery, if we know more about the history. How did it start? Where did it start? There are some interesting facts that can truly enrich a fan’s passion for art pottery; so, after looking through many of the collector’s book and reminding ourselves of some of these stories of “where it all began”, here are some little known facts you may not have known.

Most farmers collected clay from their fields in the summer and then spent their winter months creating pottery in an effort to maintain steady work year round. Ohio has an abundance of that rich clay that serves as the foundation for art

Weller Ardsley Double Wall Pocket

pottery and it wasn’t uncommon for farmers to collect whatever it was they were growing in any particular season while also digging clay. They stored it in hastily built sheds until they could get around to working their magic.

By 1840, Ohio had 99 potteries. These potters were no longer firing pottery for use in the region, but rather, they were shipping it around the country and even exported what is described as “huge quantities” down the Mississippi River into New Orleans. It’s interesting to know within just a few years, any competition to the east and south was annihilated as many of these farmers came to realize there was much more financial security in the rich clay than the cotton and potatoes that grew alongside it.

Within two decades, many potters were no longer thinking from a utilitarian perspective, but were beginning to understand the lucrative and untapped market for decorative art pottery, one that the “lady of the house” would want to showcase in her sitting room or foyer. Suddenly, it was no longer a “man’s industry”, so to speak, but the creativity and beautiful floral patterns and color combinations opened the eyes of many women.

It’s amazing to think all these dynamics came together so long ago and that they still have a place in our hearts and homes in a modern society. It sure makes you see your own art pottery collection in a different light.

If you haven’t already followed Just Art Pottery on Twitter, be sure to do so and don’t forget our Facebook Fan page either.

Great Things Going on at Just Art Pottery

2011 has been a busy year for us here at Just Art Pottery. We continue to build the Just Art Pottery Auctions site. Since 1997, we have built Just Art Pottery and believe we have established ourselves well within the art pottery community. It was just a natural choice to offer a live online auction site. We’re having fun with it and we believe our bidders are too. If you haven’t visited the site, be sure to do so. You can click here.

We also have some incredible finds on the Just Art Pottery New Products page. Some of these pieces aren’t easily found, so we’re especially excited to include them in the inventory. Take a look:

There is an Aetco Faience Pottery tile we’ve just listed. This pretty tile depicts a woman as she holds ducks in her apron and is releasing them one by one into the duck pond at her feet. Shades of purple color her dress and hat while her ducks are yellow and white. A man is in the background watching on and a sign reveals they’re at the Take Inn. You’ll notice the back is marked and the ‘AETCO FAIENCE’ stamped in the center. The wood frame adds a nice earthy look.

Also, there’s a Cambridge Pottery Squat Vase that’s a new addition. The shape and dark glaze gives an elegant look to the design and it’s decorated with leaves and vines. There has been a repair to the chip of the rim, but there is no other damage or repair efforts of any kind. The vase measures 2 3/4” in height and is 5” wide. The bottom is marked with “CAMBRIDGE”, “C” and “23I”. The artist used the letters “CL” to sign the work.

As always, these are just a couple of the most recent additions. Be sure to browse the entire inventory of new arrivals. Don’t forget to check out the auction site, too.

The Ninth Annual George Ohr Gala


Fans of the eclectic – and sometimes mysterious – George Ohr are making plans to hit the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast for the Ninth Annual George Ohr Gala. The event is hosted this year by the breathtaking and recently rebuilt Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss. As many of you know, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August, 2005, it annihilated both the Beau Rivage and the considerable work that had already been completed to the new George Ohr museum. Since then, almost superhuman efforts have been made to get both restored to their original beauty. It’s been a fascinating journey and an impressive and newly produced video will chronicle the years of the Ohr Museum and the Mad Potter himself, George Ohr.

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Displaying Your Art Pottery Collection

Cherry Blossom 2

We’ve written about the different ways art pottery can be displayed. Many of us like to keep our specific lines together, opting to create a space for our Roseville Pottery and another area in our homes we reserve for perhaps a lovely collection of Rookwood Pottery. Still, there are those of us who love nothing more than to find a common denominator between several collections; perhaps it’s a floral theme or maybe shades of greens and blues, and then create an eclectic array that brings out the beauty in each unique piece. Regardless of your preferences, there are a few things to keep in mind as you set about creating that display space. Here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years that may help in your efforts.

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