In a perfect world, all pottery would be clearly marked and fakes would be unheard of. However, in the real world, things are seldom that simple.
I am a longtime collector of hand-painted 1950’s Watt Pottery, so you can imagine my dismay when I recently realized I had purchased a “fake.” My husband says that I look for the “silver lining” in every cloud, so in keeping with the philosophy let me see if I can parlay my error into helping you to not make the same mistake.
For the first decade of production, Watt manufactured stoneware crocks, jugs canning jars and butter churns. These pieces will clearly be marked with an eagle or an acorn stamped in blue.
Watt discontinued their utilitarian line in 1935, replacing it with modern oven wares. These resilient pieces could easily go from oven to icebox and were an instant hit with the buying public. These early issues will have to be identified by their clay content and patterns, as they were not marked.
In the post war years of the 1940s, Watt focused their efforts on oven-glazed kitchen wares in a variety of bright colors. Some of their most successful patterns came from this time frame including Arcs, Loops, Diamond and Groves. While an unmarked piece will occasionally surface, the bulk of these wares will carry either the “MADE IN USA” mark or they will simply say “Oven Ware.”
Watt’s famous hand-painted lines were introduced in 1949. The highly detailed designs of these wares were created by using three colors in broad and sparse strokes. The earliest of these pieces (1949-1953) will be found in five patterns: Rio Rose, Moonflowers, Dogwood, White Daisy and Cross-hatch.
These mid-20th Century, hand-painted pieces would become the Watt Pottery Company’s defining work. They remain today, as they were at their time of issue, highly sought by collectors of fine stoneware. Patterns and their dates of issue are: Starflower 1951, Apple 1952, Cherry 1952, Silhouette 1953, Rooster 1955, Dutch Tulip 1956, American Red Bud 1957, Morning Glory 1958, Autumn Foliage 1959, Double Apple 1959 and Tulip 1961.
In the spring of 1995, a line of new pottery was filtered into the market via auctions and antique shows. This line was made in molds taken from original pieces of Watt and many included the impressed marks found on authentic pieces. This “fake” line of Watt was so well executed that even seasoned professionals and longtime collectors fell victim to this intentional deception.
Pieces to be on the lookout for include #62 creamer, #15, #16 and #17 pitchers, the pie plate and the #64 bowl.
There are some warning signs to help you in identification of “fake” Watt. Close examination will reveal that the frauds are 5% smaller than original Watt Pottery. You may also note that on some pieces the mark on the bottom will be blurred. On original issues the patterns are usually formed by two groups of buds, one horizontal and one vertical. By contrast, the frauds will feature multiple brush stokes all pointing one direction.
While I wish I had known then what I know now, I hope that this brief tutorial saves some of you from taking home a fake.
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.