Appraisal Video: (3:08)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
APPRAISER: So, Gary, why did you start collecting art pottery?
GUEST: My doctor told me to get a hobby.
APPRAISER: How long you been collecting pottery?
GUEST: About ten years.
APPRAISER: And you told me you came across these in an unusual fashion.
GUEST: Yeah, I'm in the roofing business. A gentleman had a bed-and-breakfast near where I live, so I told him I'd do his roof for $12,000. And he didn't have that much money, so he said he'd give me $6,000 cash and some art pottery.
APPRAISER: Now, you know that these are Rookwood pieces made in Cincinnati, Ohio. The reason I wanted to talk about these is I'm going to do a little "good, better, best" here, because you've got three distinctly different categories of Rookwood pottery. The first one, the largest piece, is a good piece of Rookwood. It's a production piece. It has these rings around the outside that make it look like it's hand-thrown, but it's really a molded pot. If we look on the bottom, we'll see the regular Rookwood mark and no artist's signature. It's a regular production piece with some embossed decoration from the mold on the side, but a very pretty one. A little farther down the road is this early standard lace piece. This piece is artist-signed; we can see the artist's signature on the bottom by Edith Felten. Dates to about 1899, and it's called Rookwood standard brown glaze with underglaze slip decoration of clover blossoms and leaves. Very well-painted, very crisp and very clear. This is what people often think of when they think about Rookwood. But best... the best piece is this one, dating to 1901, about the same time as that brown-glazed piece. And this one is by Amelia B. Sprague. This is a rare line called Painted Matte, which is a technique that a lot of Arts and Crafts potteries, influenced by Rookwood, were using about the same time where... this piece, for example, was fired three times-- it was bisque fired, the decoration was put on; it was fired a second time, the overglaze was put on; it was fired a third time. This one is fired initially, but then it's painted with overglaze, so they only fired it one more time. And what happens is, when it works, you get these very rich, soft, languid lines of decoration on the piece. This is a very sweet example, with berries and mistletoe leaves on it. So, we have a "good, better, best" example and, consequently, the prices similarly are reflecting that "good, better, best." This production vase, which is taller than most, if you were to find it at auction or estimate it for auction, it'd be about $200 to $300. The standard glaze piece-- top auction estimate would be about $350 to $450, maybe someone would say $500, but that's about as far as anybody would estimate that. But this sweet pot here, which is smaller than that one and, in some ways, not as showy, a reasonable auction estimate would be $2,500 to $3,500, and maybe as much as $3,000 to $4,000. It's that lovely.
APPRAISER: I'm not sure if it's great. You said you took it for $6,000 in trade for this roofing work.
GUEST: Well, I've traded about ten pieces all together of different...
APPRAISER: Oh, so this isn't all that you got for the $6,000.
APPRAISER: Oh, okay, so you're probably safe then.