George Ohr Pitcher with Fake Glaze, ca. 1905
Appraised Value: $100 - $200
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:49)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
APPRAISER: I'd like to start off this sort of an appraisal just by cutting to the chase. This is a real piece of George Ohr with a fake glaze on it. Okay?
GUEST: It is?
APPRAISER: And it's a story that's got to be told. First of all, let's hear about how you acquired it.
GUEST: I bought it at an antiques show in Miami about two years ago. I knew a bit about George Ohr and I thought it was really rare to see a piece, so I decided to buy it.
APPRAISER: And you said you paid how much for this?
APPRAISER: The irony is it is a really good piece of George Ohr because what's underneath this glaze is a real George Ohr pot. Dates to about 1905. It's beautifully thrown. It's got a real George Ohr signature. In 1976, I'd been dealing pottery for a few years, my wife and I received about $3,000 in wedding money at the time. And I invested all of it in George Ohr. And I bought about 30 or 40 pieces that were just like this, and they were all real pieces of George Ohr that had been glazed. I lost all the money that I had, and I didn't handle George Ohr pottery for about ten years because I was so annoyed at George Ohr and the fakes. What happened was that when George Ohr hit the pinnacle of his career as a potter, he stopped glazing his pots. He said that, "God put no color in the soul, so I'm going to put no color on my pots." He left them unglazed, bisque finished. They would look like the bottom here, this white. This script mark-- "G.E. Ohr"-- was his last mark, and most of the bisque pieces, without any overglaze, bear that mark. That's one way of being able to determine if a piece might be right or not. George was sloppy. Most real George Ohr pieces have glaze slopped on the bottom. They have stilt marks. He used these y-shaped stilts to keep them off the floor of the kiln. There's indications of his work that are not in these glazed pieces. And finally, and this is a more subtle point, he had a very gentle and elegant hand. His work may have looked sloppy, but he knew what he was doing. The people who try to replicate George Ohr's glazing techniques tend to just lump these dotted, spotty glazes onto the pieces. They do not have the refinement of George Ohr's hand. We can show the throwing marks inside of this. You can see the finger rings. It's a good-size piece. He's got a pinch handle in the back and a pinch spout in the front with nice fluting running down it. I mean, this is a good, solid piece of Ohr. So this piece, as it is right now, somebody might pay an antique dealer at a show $100 to $200 for it...
APPRAISER: Because it's been ruined with this fake glaze. Even though you have a real piece, at the same show with no glaze, at least $2,000 to $3,000. This piece with a real glaze-- $20,000.
GUEST: Really? Good to know. Thank you.
APPRAISER: I wish I had better news for you.
GUEST: I wish you did, too.
APPRAISER: This is educational television, after all.
GUEST: It's good for people to know.
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.