After many years of being considered a low-end undesirable that wasn’t worth lifting off the thrift store shelf, Royal Haeger has caught the eye of the Millennial who are carting it home by the bagful!
As the Great Depression came to an end in America, the long established Haeger brickyard turned their efforts towards the production of ceramics. Renaming the company Haeger Pottery, they introduced their wares at the 1934 Chicago “Century of Progress” Exposition.
For this year-long event, Haeger built a working ceramics factory on site which allowed over visitors to witness both ancient and modern forms of pottery production. The efforts of the Haeger family were not in vain as over 4 million people came through their exhibit, many leaving with a renewed passion for pottery
Taking advantage of the momentum gained from their highly successful run at the “Century of Progress,” Haeger began a search for new creative talent to bring a fresh look to their line.
In 1938, the company brought industrial designer Royal Arden Hickman on board for the express purpose of designing a line of art ware and “Royal Haegar” pottery was born.
His Art Deco inspired designs with their flowing lines and unique glazes were an instant hit with the public. While some of his more sophisticated pieces will become apparent as you familiarize yourself with his work, even the novice will recognize his sleek black panther from 1941.
Eric Olsen joined the Royal Haeger team in 1941 and was named their chief designer in 1947. He would remain with the company until 1972. One of his most recognized creations was his large red bull figure from 1955. Elsa Ken Haeger, who designed the Royal Garden Flower line from 1954 to 1963, and Sascha Brastoff, who created the Esplanade and Roman Bronze lines in 1971, are other in house artists of note.
Identification of Royal Haeger pottery is fairly easy and many pieces were clearly marked on the bottom.
Early pieces will say “Royal Haeger” or “Royal Haeger by Royal Hickman.” On some issues there will be the “USA” mark followed by a model number. On unmarked pieces you will often find three small marks. These were made by the stilts used in the process of glazing the bottom of the pottery. A third distinguishing mark will be a distinct seam in the middle of the underside of larger pieces.
Royal Haeger pottery was manufactured in many shapes, but they are best known for their animals. In addition to their famous bull and panther, you will also find a large selection of birds, deer, gazelles and elephants.
Vases, pin trays, ash trays, planters and figurines are common finds as well as an extensive line of lamps and lighting fixtures. More difficult to come by, but very popular with collectors, are their dinnerware lines
Standing as a category of collectible on their own are their kitschy TV lamps from the 1950s. These often surface at estate sales or find their way into the flea markets and go overlooked as Haeger because their paper tag has worn off with the passage of time.
If you are collecting these lamps with the intention of using them, it is always wise to replace the cord. Also note that when they are plugged in the old bulbs can become hot enough to start a smoldering fire, so make sure they are placed away from anything flammable.
After more than a decade of declining sales and fierce competition from Chinese imports, the Haeger Factory closed their doors in May 2016 after a 145 year run.
Until next time, Linda
Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in downsizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.