Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 30, 2014

Linda Hamer Kennett: Back in vogue

Linda Hamer Kennett
Daily News

---- — While attending a recent pottery auction I was struck by the decline in popularity of many pieces that, only a few years ago, had garnered top prices.

1930’s roseville vases, beautiful jardinieres from the Weller factories, and Hull matte finish ewers, held little interest for the 150 or so bidders present. But the energy in the room elevated and the bidder cards were flying when the auctioneer announced “up for bid we are offering a collection of pieces from the American Arts and Craft Movement of the early 1900s.”

Elegant and simplistic in its design, this classic pottery finds its origin in Britain in the mid-1870s. By 1910 it made its way to America where it would hold strong through the late 1920s. Whether it be the organic matte green of the Van Briggle, Teco and Grueby Pottery companies, the hand thrown and decorated efforts from the women of Newcomb College, or the innovative experimentation from the “Mad Potter of Biloxi”, George Orr, Arts and Craft Pottery is finding a new and enthusiastic audience.

In recent years the “new antique lovers,” (those in the 25 to 39 age range), have been gravitating towards the the straight, no-frills style of the Arts and Crafts period, stimulating the sale of Craftsman/Mission Style furniture and Arts and Crafts art, lighting and accessories.

Those “in the know” are coming to appreciate not only the aesthetic appeal of these pieces, but are also aware that the quality craftsmanship from the Arts and Crafts Movement is a wise investment. This is, however, a know before you go collectible, so here are a few tips to get you started.

The Haeger Pottery Company began reproduction of both Teco and Grueby in the late 1990’s. Some of their pieces will only mimic the general style of the authentic counterparts, while other examples are direct copies. Examine the seams closely.The original pieces will be hand finished with no obvious seam mark, while the slip cast molding on the fakes will have an obvious seam.

The Ephraim Faience Studio of Wisconsin produced several pieces in early 2002 that greatly resemble Newcomb and SEG/Paul Revere originals. Here you will want to inspect the bottom of the piece. Newer “fakes” will have a bottom that is the same color as the body of the work, while their original counterparts will have a white or neutral colored bottom.

Fulper has produced high quality Arts and Crafts pottery from 1909 to 1930. The granddaughters of William Hill Fulper III revived the work of their ancestor in 1984. These newer pieces very closely mimic the original but are nowhere near the value or quality of the originals. When purchasing Fuller tiles watch for the bottom marks that will be the embossed “Fulper” mark set in two square cornered boxes. By contrast the original mark will include the word “tile” and will have rounded edges.

If your taste run to the quality offered by Rookwood Pottery, be warned that there are two types of “new” (1980s forward) Rookwood in circulation. One group are unauthorized fakes and the second grouping consists of pieces made from made from original company molds. Newer issues are marked in Arabic rather than the Roman Numerals found on the original pieces. Also check the color of the clay as original Rookwood was made from the soft clays of Ohio, while newer pieces will be stark white porcelain.

Considering the age of authentic Arts and Crafts pottery it is not uncommon to find pieces that have been repaired.

Examination under an ultraviolet light will show color variations, and lightly tapping the body of the piece with a coin will reveal a slight variance in sound, if the piece has been repaired.. Until next time,

Linda

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation constant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or lkennett@indy.rr.com