Van Briggle Pottery Special Lines

Throughout the history of Van Briggle Pottery, there have been unique lines, known as “special lines” that incorporate all the beauty and attention to detail the art pottery company is known for, but also provides collectors another opportunity to add to their collection a truly unique piece.

Over the years, items such as candlesticks, plaques, plates and even bookends are made in limited numbers. One example are the Siren of the Sea plates. It’s believed Anne Van Briggle created these as part of her final efforts before selling the company. Each piece has a mermaid in various positions, though usually draped over the design. In one, the mermaid sits on the rim of the plate, leaning on one arm. She’s finished in the same color glazes as the plate or bowl.

Women in general seem to be a common theme in these special lines. Between the mid 1930s and mid 1940s, there were a few pieces including Daydreamer, where a woman is wearing a cape and with her head bent, appears to be looking down. Lady of the Lake, finished in a matte blue glaze, is kneeling on her knees looking into a pond or lake with a turtle that appears to be looking in her direction. Yet another bowl includes a woman with calla lillies and there’s even a Native American woman depicted in one of these designs.

They’re truly lovely and are often quite detailed. There are very interesting vases with the openings depicted as bears that appear to be peering into the vase opening. There are a series of American Indian busts, too.

The glazes run the gamut and to suggest there’s a common theme would be inaccurate. Beautiful and dramatic bronzes, the matte blue in the mermaid series, greens, golds – there are many. There are high gloss pieces, plenty of flat or matte pieces and even a few with an iridescent finish.

To be sure, this is quite the varied showcase. Many are kept in a museum, though there are plenty in private collections as well. They’re prized possessions and little wonder so many Van Briggle fans are always on the lookout.

Van Briggle: Hues of Green and Blue

Each art pottery line includes a “favorite” of any collector. There’s no shortage of Van Briggle fans who appreciate the magical hues, especially the blues and greens, found in many of this pottery company’s lines.

Van Briggle Color Plates

Those who have mastered the glaze colors, especially in the Van Briggle collections, certainly know the distinctions behind every single one of those glazes. These glaze colors not only identify the various pieces, but also gives some clue as to any piece’s value. This is especially important in those pieces where the markings no longer exist and therefore can’t tell the history of a piece.
Many Van Briggle Pottery pieces are labeled in groups: “Plate 174” or “Plate 183”. Within these groups are the pieces. The blues and greens are striking- and that’s an understatement!

Plate 187 and Plate 184

I’ve paired these two because of the very distinct differences. Within Plate 184, you’ll discover very light hues of blue or green (some say blue, others insist they’re very light variations of green). The pieces were made in the early 1900s, around 1905-1906. They’re most often marked with “VB” for Van Briggle, along with “stp” for “stamped”.
The Plate 187 collection has much darker shades of blue. When you put any of the pieces of the two collections together, it’s almost magical. It truly is a remarkable contrast. These pieces will have similar markings, including the “VB” and “stp”. The one difference might be these pieces will have “CS” for Colorado Springs.

Plate 203

This collection of vases have a nice combination of various shads of blues and greens. The vases will often have several shades that begin in a really light blue around the neck of the vase and get darker closer to the base or vice versa. They will often incorporate the “VB”, the number associated with the vase and the “stp”.

Plate 207

I wanted to include this collection because of a specific bowl. If you’ll notice in the photo, the
outside of the bowl is a nice almost “sea foam” green while the bowl itself is a pretty sky blue. They contrast beautifully and the absence of any etchings or other decorative elements lends to its character. It’s the simplicity that defines it.
These are just a few of the many Van Briggle pottery pieces you’ll discover in the hlue and green glaze lines. If you’re a Van Briggle collector, you surely know how remarkable the presentations are. If you’re new to Van Briggle, you’re in for a treat as you discover those hues. A good place to start your research efforts is by exploring the very detailed information in the Collector’s Encyclopedia of Van Briggle Art Pottery: An Identification and Value Guide. It’s chock full of information on everything you need to know about this revered line of American art pottery.

Van Briggle Tiles

There’s no denying some of the most beautiful art pottery tiles came from the Van Briggle pottery lines. From the subtle grays and blues to the riveting golds, greens and rich browns, collectors appreciate this line for its eclectic offerings and general appeal.

It’s interesting, but the company likely never manufactured these tiles until after the death of its founder, Artus Van Briggle in 1904. Every tile used at the Memorial Pottery Plant was made at the “home base” of Van Briggle, located on Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With the success of their use at the new plant, it was a natural progression that the pottery company would begin producing and selling these tiles to the general public.

The production included incorporating a dry press tile machine and the glaze used was courtesy of “waste” glaze that had been saved from other Van Briggle pottery pieces. Decorative elements included incisions along with the use of many colors. They were advertised as ideal for kitchens bathrooms and interestingly, porches. Lovely flowers adorned these tiles as well as abstracts, leaves and textures.

The Memorial Pottery plant was located in Colorado Springs, as well. It was a grand red brick building with no shortage of “A” frames (perhaps inspired by the double “A” enclosed in a square that became the Van Briggle trademark?). Easily identified by the massive twin chimneys emerging from the center of the large building, some of the most distinctive tiles of the time period emerged from this location. They continue to inspire and strike awe to this day.

Be sure to take a look at our Van Briggle Pottery offerings. You’re sure to notice the unique presentation of this remarkable line of American art pottery. And if you have your favorites, we’d love to see your photos.

Van Briggle Tile

It’s long since been established Artus Van Briggle was a big contributing factor in what’s known as the Art Nouvea movement. Those who appreciate the Van Briggle Pottery style can easily see it replicated in contemporary pottery efforts. It’s what happened following his death that some may not be aware of, however.

The production of the Van Briggle tiles did not even begin until after Artus Van Briggle’s death in 1904. Of course, the tiles used during the construction of the Memorial Pottery Plant were made by Van Briggle pottery; that said, this information was not made public until after the Memorial pottery opened.

Artus Van Briggle

These titles were created using dry-press tile machines along with leftover glaze that had first been used to glaze other pottery pieces. Interestingly, the pottery company advertised how the various tiles were created: either as hand-pressed or machine-pressed. That kind of disclosure simply isn’t found in today’s marketing and advertising efforts. Another way of distinguishing the machine from hand pressed pieces is by looking at the colors and finishes. Machine pressed tiles have a single color with a matte finish. Those that are hand pressed will be decorated with several colors and sometimes with incised designs. Speaking of marketing efforts, the company made suggestions in its advertising that the tiles would be ideal for use on one’s porch, laundry rooms, kitchens, fireplace mantles and even as wall coverings. To help further their efforts, many public buildings had (and many still do have) Van Briggle tiles installed.

These tiles were offered at the Memorial plant, which was designed by the famous architect Nicholas Van den Arend, on Uintah Street in Colorado Springs. It should be noted, too, that few of these tiles were ever marked, so discerning tile numbers can be a bit tricky, unless, of course, you stumble across one of the rare ones with incised letters and numbers.