Art pottery is likely one of the widest category of collecting on the map. As such, I own a great deal of it, and really do buy what I love — which often winds up being European, although I have a lot of great American pieces as well. By definition, art pottery is something that was created from clay, either by hand or by machine, for aesthetic value, as opposed to an object that was strictly utilitarian. In, our challenge was to find art pottery, and since we were heading to Cowan’s Auction House, which is based in Ohio, I had my eye out for pottery from that region. Ohio has a rich history with pottery with such companies as Roseville, Weller, Rookwood, McCoy, Zanesville, etc. all hailing from the state.
While the Roseville market has softened considerably over the past few years (especially the floral lines), there are some pieces that hold their value, such as a few that were introduced between 1928 and 1933: Futura, Baneda and Falline. I’ve pictured two of my favorite Futura pieces known as ‘Bomb” vases to most collectors. They are highly collectible and a great example of Art Deco design. In the photo I have included below, they are shown with a French Art Deco vase made roughly around the same time. Being French, it has a few more bells and whistles, and was originally sold at the famous “Galleries Lafayette” and still retains the original tag on the bottom.
The Roseville Falline vase I’ve pictured below is really appealing, with its sweet pea pattern. I have it paired with a Weller “Marvo” vase from the 1920s, which I also like very much.
As for the Baneda, l like grouping it, and have it shown here with two large Roseville “Tuscany” vases (not as valuable, but decorative and very collectable) and an art pottery sprite head that I found The Garage flea market in NYC. The sprite is one of my favorite pieces of art pottery, even though a student or amateur potter probably made it. He’s got character and soul. Not everything I collect has to have a ton of value, as long as it visually appeals to me, like this guy does.
For those just staring to collect art pottery, Royal Haeger still maintains a very accessible price point. Most pieces I see by Haeger are in a green high gloss glaze, like the pair of modernist farmer statuettes I’ve pictured here. At about three feet tall, they make a bold statement wherever they find a home.
A more obscure American potter I collect, Geza de Vegh, was a Hungarian immigrant who set up shop in New Jersey. I love both his studio and factory pieces. This orange Ram’s head is a studio piece.
And here are examples of factory pieces — a pair of chocolate and cream figures — by Phoenix.
When I first moved to New York City over two decades ago, a very savvy antiques dealer hired me, and over the course of many years, passed a boatload of knowledge on to me. De Vegh was one of her favorites, and soon he became one of mine. His pieces command a higher price and are on the rare side, so if you see one, snap it up!
So I guess by now it’s plain to see that I have a thing for art pottery. Because there is so much of it available, I suggest buying what has a gut appeal and won’t break the bank. Some people choose to collect one color or maker, but I think I a potpourri of pottery is a lot of fun. And, hey, if you live with it for a while and decide you don’t want it anymore, you can always sell it. Welcome to my world…
All photos by Bob Richter