American Pottery

Rookwood Pottery
Maria Longworth Nichols and Albert R. Valentien for Rookwood Earthenware Vase

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer founded Rookwood Pottery in 1880 as a way to market her hobby – the painting of blank tableware. Through years of experimentation with glazes and kiln temperatures, she eventually built her own kiln, hired a number of excellent chemists and artists who were able to create high-quality glazes of colors never before seen on mass-produced pottery. click for more

Pictured left: An Earthenware Vase – Maria Longworth Nichols and Albert R. Valentien for Rookwood, 1883. In the dull finish, decorated with a frog conducting a choir of ducks amidst Oriental grasses, chased around the neck and foot with a fire-on-gold honeycomb motif, signed in gilt MLN, incised A.R.V. and impressed Rookwood 1883 Y 162 with the kiln and anchor mark, and with remnants of paper label. Sold for $9,400 at Christies, New York, 2001.

American Stoneware Pottery

Fenton & Hancock Water CoolerThe term “American Stoneware” refers to the predominant houseware of nineteenth century America–stoneware pottery usually covered in a salt glaze and often decorated using cobalt oxide to produce bright blue decorations.

Pictured left: Fenton & Hancock Water Cooler sold at auction for $88,000 in Nov 2006 at Crocker Farm Inc auctions – image courtesy of Crocker Farm Antiques.

The vernacular term “crocks” is often used to describe this type of pottery, though the term “crock” is not seen in period documents describing the ware. Additionally, while other types of stoneware were produced in America concurrently with it–for instance, ironstone, yellowware, and various types of china–in common usage of the term, “American Stoneware” refers to this specific type of pottery. click for more

The Bennington Potteries

Bennington PotteriesThe town of Bennington in what is now the state of Vermont was chartered on January 3, 1749 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth and named in his honor. The tradition of pottery-making inh the area is largely the legacy of Capt. John Norton (1758-1828) who began producing “redware” glazed pottery in 1784. The Bennington area was close to local clay deposits, as well as deposits along the Hudson and the River. Bennington could supply waterpower to power the associated machinery. The first kiln appeared in 1793. The first stoneware was produced in 1804.

Pictured right: Two Stoneware Items – The crock E & LP Norton, Bennington, Vermont, 1858-1881, the jug J & E Norton, Bennington, Vermont Comprised of a six-gallon double-handled cobalt-decorated stoneware crock with bird and floral decoration and a three-gallon double-handled baluster-form cobalt-decorated stoneware jug with peacock decoration. The crock stamped E&LP Norton Bennington VT 6, the jug stamped J. & E. Norton Bennington VT 2 The crock 13½ in. high; the jug 12 in. high. Sold for $3,250 at Christies, New York, 2008.

Other potteries were founded in the area, most notably the United States Pottery of Bennington, founded by Christopher Fenton in the 1840s. Throughout the 19th Century the potteries achieved considerable success employing hundreds of people and even representing the nation’s pottery industry at the 1853 Crystal Palace Exposition in New York. The high standards achieved and variety of successful forms produced was copied throughout New England.

From the late 19th Century a move away from stoneware in the marketplace meant that the pottery business in the Bennington area began to decline and by 1948 had nearly died out. However, the tradition of pottery making in Bennington still continues led by David Gil who began making ceramics as part of an artists’ cooperative and eventually opened Bennington Potters.

Roseville Pottery

RHEAD SANTA BARBARA Tall vase etched with a stylized landscape

The Roseville Pottery Company was an American pottery manufacturer in the 19th and 20th centuries. Though originally simple household pieces, the design of the pottery was popular with the American Arts and Crafts movement and pieces are now sought after by collectors.

Pictured right: RHEAD SANTA BARBARA Tall vase etched with a stylized landscape. (An extraordinary example, this vase is certainly an iconic Arts and Crafts piece). A few hairlines. Stamped medallion of potter at kiln. 11 1/4″ x 6″. .Sold for $516,000 at Rago Arts & Auction Center, March 2007.

The company was founded by J.F. Weaver in Roseville, Ohio in 1890. It was incorporated in 1892 with George Young, a former Roseville salesman, as secretary and general manager. Under the direction of Young, the Roseville company had great success producing stoneware flower pots and other practical household items. In 1895, the company expanded by purchasing Midland Pottery, and by 1896 George Young had amassed a controlling interest in Roseville Pottery. In 1898, they purchased the Clark Stoneware Company in Zanesville, and moved the headquarters there. click for more

Related American Pottery
Van Briggle Pottery
Roseville Pottery
Fulper Pottery
George Edgar Ohr The Father of Modern American Ceramics