A Closer Look at Roseville Earlam

Many collectors of Roseville pottery will hone in on one particular design element and for those who treasure the Roseville Earlam line, that specific element is the simple arts and crafts forms and the quality matte glazes. The subtle colors provide the perfect canvas for light to produce exceptional dimensions; indeed, it looks as though it’s been masterfully shadowed. With just 22 various Earlam shapes, it’s a natural assumption that the artists would have been assertive in their efforts of ensuring it stands out. The most obvious way to accomplish that is via the inclusion of irregular asymmetric efforts or even geometric efforts, similar to what we see in the Roseville Futura lines. That’s not the case, though.

The extent of many of the pieces in this line are little more than open neck or slightly expanded bottom. There’s an absence of

Roseville Pottery Earlam Blue Green Handled Vase

floral motifs, animals, people or anything else, for that matter. Some offer handles, but almost always they’re placed near the top of the vase or pots. That’s the beauty of it: simple and clean served the purposes nicely.

The Earlam line also offers several console bowls and strawberry pots – with one even offering a saucer. With the exception of the occasional candlestick pairs and umbrella stands, the majority of the shapes are vases and bowls. The one unlikely – though beautiful – inclusion is the hanging basket. It comes as no surprise to learn it’s always in high demand.

The green matte against that pale yellow glaze really bodes well with this line, which was introduced in 1930. There’s one important consideration – most pieces from this line had paper labels, and like any other line that had the stickers, when they fall off or are otherwise removed, many assume it’s not authentic. There are some with handwritten markings, but it’s impossible to identify which shapes the writing is more likely to be found.

What’s not at all surprising is the Frank Ferrell influence; remember, he tended to steer clear of the more feminine elements, such as flowers, and preferred a more streamlined presentation. Still, whatever his reasons were, his ability to transform those artistic images in his mind to the potter’s will is exactly what makes this line of Roseville pottery so spectacular.

Roseville Pottery – The “Glaze Before Shape” Rule

Roseville Tourmaline

Anyone who’s a fan of Roseville Pottery likely has heard of the “glaze before shape” rule. For those who have only recently discovered the beauty of this line of American art pottery may be a bit confused. Basically, because some shapes transcend the various Roseville Pottery lines, it makes for an easier and more accurate identification if one considers the glaze when trying to identify a piece instead of the shape. As Mark Bassett points out in Introducing Roseville Pottery:

(If you discover) a Roseville Futura shape that is white all over and has die-impressed marks, then your piece is from the Ivory line – even if the shape number is not listed under Ivory in the Roseville books.

Not only that, but this rule is applicable despite the die impressions that indicate a different line. There is a particular Rozane Royal ewer that is incorrectly marked as an Azurean piece. As with all rules, however, there is an exception. The Trial Glaze pieces switch the rule and make the shape the accurate identification method. Because these experimentals seem to be only a habit of Roseville potters, they are more valuable than other Roseville pottery.

Especially prior to 1910, the Roseville shapes that gained popularity with consumers often were the deciding factor when developing a new line. There was one line, the Roseville Tourmaline, that both introduced new shapes while also bringing several older shapes, courtesy of the Roseville Futura, Roseville Earlam and Roseville Imperial into the mix; further reiterating the importance of distinguishing one from the other.

Clearly, it’s easy to understand how confusing it can become when it comes to identifying Roseville lines. Once a

Roseville Artwood

collector can grasp the glaze before shape mindset, it usually becomes much smoother sailing. There’s one more reason to understanding the identification process: some lines are more valuable than others. You might think you’ve identified a Roseville Futura piece and bought it only to discover it’s actually a Roseville Artwood piece, which is not as valuable.