Ott & Brewer American Belleek Vase, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $20,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:41)
Pottery & Porcelain
David Lackey Antiques & Art
GUEST: I bought it here locally in Las Vegas about ten years ago in a local antiques store. I know that it's American Belleek. The reason I bought it was because of the color. I paid $65 for it.
APPRAISER: What have you found out about it over the years?
GUEST: Well, I know it says Belleek on the bottom. I know there's a mark there. I know it says Fenton.
GUEST: I know Fenton is a glass company rather than a porcelain company. The mark, I think, I tried looking up once upon a time in one of the little mark books. I vaguely remember that it was, like, from the late 1890s, and that's about all I know about it.
APPRAISER: Okay, first of all, it has a wonderful, kind of an olive green background color with some gold highlights. And then these hand-painted flying birds-- perhaps cranes or something. They almost have an oriental feel to them. They're very thickly applied, so there's a raised surface, which is really nice. And then we have this really interesting landscape down below with water and a little hut of some sort next to the water.
GUEST: Right, right.
APPRAISER: Some rocks on the shore, water plants. A really kind of a charming scene. If we can turn it around, we see we have these wonderful, figural dolphin-shaped handles, all decorated with gold. And then on the back is some interesting, stylized plants with this really delicately painted butterfly, again with the raised gold design. We'll take a look at the mark here...
APPRAISER: ...see what we can tell you about that. Now, on the mark here, it does say "Belleek," and then there's a crescent. And the crescent actually doesn't say Fenton.
GUEST: It doesn't?
APPRAISER: It says "Trenton, New Jersey."
APPRAISER: It's a little hard to read.
APPRAISER: Yes, there is an American glass company named Fenton. But Fenton didn't make any porcelain at all.
APPRAISER: If you look closely, there's a letter "O" and a letter "B", which are superimposed over the crescent, and that stands for Ott & Brewer, which was the first company in America which made a Belleek ceramic body. The Ott & Brewer company was originally founded in about 1863 as the Etruria Pottery Company. Eventually they became known as Ott & Brewer. They made a lot of utilitarian things, but by the 1870s, they were making some pretty fantastic porcelain in America. Now, at that point in America, there had not been very many manufacturers of porcelain that had stayed in business very long...
APPRAISER: ...or made anything of very high quality. Now, this vase, we believe, was probably made in the late 1870s or early 1880s, when they were really doing their best work. As far as American Belleek, Belleek is the ceramic body, which was started in Ireland. The Ott & Brewer company imported some workers from Ireland who had worked there and they were the first to make this very thin, eggshell-type porcelain. It's kind of a off-white color. And we don't see much of it on this piece, but we can see it here on the top-- this very thin, translucent eggshell-colored porcelain. Now, one of their early art directors was a man named Lenox, who went on to found the Lenox Company...
APPRAISER: ...which is so famous today.
GUEST: Right, right.
APPRAISER: They were another of the early manufacturers of Belleek in America. Now, most small pieces will start around $50 to $100.
APPRAISER: And some of the really nice pieces can go up to $500...
APPRAISER: ...or $1,000. But this one has exceptional qualities. This piece is good enough for any museum collection in America. This piece, we believe, at auction, would sell for between $15,000 and $20,000.
GUEST: You are kidding me. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.