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Roseville Art Pottery

Pete Maloney

roseville pottery imperial 2 vaseRoseville Pottery, Rookwood Pottery and Weller Pottery were the three big Ohio art potteries at the turn of the 20th century. Each had different design and production techniques as well as different levels of quality that they maintained in their production output. Over the years of its production, Roseville had a moderate to high level of artistic accomplishment combined with a high level of quality control. Rookwood, with a much lower level of production than Roseville or Weller, produced ware that had the highest level of artistry and uniqueness along with a high level of quality. At times people will confuse the two potteries referring to one or the other as Rosewood Pottery. Weller, like Roseville produced a lot of art pottery and some of it more artistic, unique and interesting than Roseville USA, but on certain lines, quality control was not at the level of Roseville, although Roseville did occasionally have pieces with weak molds or poor coloring.

Roseville Pottery History

The Roseville Pottery Company was started in 1892 in Roseville, Ohio and eight years later was moved to the adjacent city of Zanesville, OH. In 1896, the pottery, which was a modest enterprise, was bought by George Young, who became President of the pottery and whose family continued to run it after he stepped down in 1918. The Roseville Pottery made a variety of decorative vases and jardinieres with high (glossy/shiny) glazes. At the turn of the century, Young hired Ross C Purdy, who developed the Rozane Royal line of pottery. roseville pottery rosewood vista vase Also in 1900, Young hired John J Herold as Art Director. This art ware line was slip-decorated with brown tonal glazes over the decoration. It has a very Victorian look to it. In 1904, Frederick Hurten Rhead became Roseville's Art Director. He brought with him from England the squeeze bag decoration technique that would later be used on many of Roseville's early art pottery patterns or production lines, like Aztec. In 1905, to keep pace with the tastes of the Arts and Crafts movement, Roseville developed matte green glazes for its wares. In 1906, Rhead developed the Della Robbia line, which is generally considered to be Roseville's most artistic endeavor. Due to the limited quantity and the fact that the pieces were hand made (carved and excised), as opposed to molded, today it is the most expensive line, with large or rare pieces commanding Roseville Pottery prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Rhead stayed on at Roseville until 1908 leaving to go to the Jervis Pottery. He had designed or oversaw design on many of Roseville's earliest lines of art pottery, such as Della Robbia, Olympic, Egypto and Aztec. Harry Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead's brother, succeeded him as Roseville's Art Director in 1909. roseville usa pottery foxglove vaseHe designed or oversaw design on the Juvenile, Donatello, Mostique and Pauleo. In 1918 Harry Rhead left Roseville Pottery and was replaced by Frank Ferrell in 1919. Ferrell and glaze chemist, George Krause, collaborated on developing the patters of the 1930's that are very collectible today, such as Baneda, Sunflower, Pine Cone and Ferella. They also created all of the later "flower" patterns of the 40's and early 50's, Magnolia, Apple Blossom and Foxglove. In 1952 designer Ben Seibel was hired to produce an oven to tableware, Raymor. In 1954 Roseville Pottery closed its doors. The decline of the business was due to an initial slowdown due to World War II and subsequently higher operating costs and competition from inexpensive foreign ceramic imports.

In the 1970's interest in collecting and discovering Roseville Pottery by a new generation of Baby Boomers fueled the Roseville (Rosewood) collecting craze that peaked around 2003. It is still highly collectible due to the large amount of it that is available and some of it can still be purchased at reasonable prices. There has been a gradual shift by collectors away from collecting the patterns of the 30's due to the high cost of collecting certain patterns, like Sunflower or Wisteria and a new desire to collect and find some of the early rare and more interesting patterns and shapes such as Della Robbia, Mongol and Egypto.

Identification of Roseville USA Pottery

Just about all Roseville pottery was marked in some way, but over the years some of the less permanent methods have been washed or peeled off, roseville pottery raised markroseville pottery ink stamp marksuch as early red crayon marks on the underside of pieces or triangular foil and paper labels. Other more permanent common marking methods were raised or impressed marks in the clay with the word "Roseville USA" also conjoined "RV" ink stamps as shown were used on early pieces. There are also a host of other marks used over the years. Your best source to find these marks are any of the many books available that chronicle the work of the Roseville USA Pottery Company. Such as the two listed below. Often, you will also find the shape number and the height of the piece impressed in the bottom as seen in the photo above left or notated with the previously mentioned red crayon. The impressed mark above is a Roseville Pine Cone 18" ewer, shape number 416. roseville rosewood pottery pinecone vase


Sources: Bassett, Mark (2002). Understanding Roseville Pottery ; Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Bomm, Jack and Nancy (1998). Roseville In All Its Splendor ; L-W Book Sales


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