Appraisal Video: (4:20)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
APPRAISER: So, Trudy, who made the pottery you brought here today?
GUEST: Well, it was made by Gertrude and Otto Natzler. And Gertrude threw the pots. She did beautiful work in clay. And Otto was very innovative, as you can see, with his glazing. This was my great-uncle's collection. He started collecting in 1940s up until... through the '60s. And he passed away in December of this past year, and the collection went to my aunt, and she bequeathed it to me.
APPRAISER: So you said they were altogether, there were ten pieces originally?
GUEST: There were originally. Yes. Nine have survived. My uncle was meticulous in keeping records about his art. He had a very eclectic art collection. And he had correspondence with Otto Natzler and responses... books from them. I have the purchase date, what he purchased it for, the item number on the pottery.
APPRAISER: Well, Otto was pretty meticulous in his own right, labeling every piece that he made. What happened with art pottery, up to about World War I-- there were hundreds of potteries in America making decorative ware. After World War I that pretty much ended. The companies that stayed in business, like Roseville and Rookwood, started making more and more production ware, because it cost too much money for artists to decorate pieces. And the hand-done individual pieces, like what you've got, started to become the work of studios or colleges. We go through this period of the Depression where it got even worse. And all of a sudden the Natzlers, who fled Nazi Germany in the '30s and came to America, started producing these fabulous pots. And Gertrude would throw the pots--paper-thin, perfect proportions-- and Otto was a Germanic glaze experimenter and kept playing with glazes and writing down formulae and developing these sensational glazes. So they almost single-handedly resuscitated the pottery movement in the United States. And they set the path for all the people that came after them during the mid-century art movement. And when most people think of modernism, they think about paintings, furniture, lighting. There are really very few ceramic masters who were operating in America at that time. I do want to show one thing, by the way, is this mark on this one piece here. Sometimes it'll say "G & O Natzler" on the earlier pieces. But they all, one way or another, in black, say "Natzler" across the bottom of the pieces. What did your uncle pay for all these pieces?
GUEST: Oh, golly. I think the first piece he had, which is not included in this set, he paid seven dollars for in 1940.
GUEST: But the prices range from very, very modest amounts... I think I saw $20
on the price sheet.
APPRAISER: $20, yes.
GUEST: And the most expensive was about $140.
APPRAISER: Yes. The one closest to you, that is a small plate in a crater glaze, which is one of their most popular and salable glazes. The market for these, by the way, is off the charts for Natzler right now. That little guy right there is worth between $1,500 and $2,000. That would be an auction estimate. It could go for more than that. This one, about the same. It's a little bigger, but the glaze isn't quite as good. This has a terrific orange flambe.
Estimate this one for between, say, $3,500 and $4,500. This bowl closest to me, it's a closed bowl form, also about $3,500-$4,500. This is called a melt fissure glaze, this one in the center. This is lovely. In fact, I've never seen this glaze before. I would say $5,000-$7,500 at auction, but it might be more like $7,000-$10,000 because of the rarity of that glaze. This startling “sang de boeuf,” “blood of ox” piece, closest to you, which is just scintillating and full of rich, fresh arterial blood color as they call it, a lovely piece also. I would estimate that for $4,500-$6,500. This also, a melt fissure piece with some ox blood running through it, is more like either a $7,000-$10,000 piece or $8,000-$12,000. This lovely metallic black one, which is full of gunmetal shavings, I would estimate that for between $10,000-$15,000. And finally, we'll share the inside of this one here, too. This is good through and through, this piece. Nice, orange, crater-glazed piece. I would estimate that for also, I'd say, $8,000-$12,000. And these, again, are conservative prices.
GUEST: Well, isn't that exciting? He really loved their work, and he got great joy from it.