20th-Century Marblehead Decorated Vases

Value (2005) | $25,000 Auction

GUEST:
I originally came from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and when I was living in New Hampshire, after we moved, I happened to be at a little flea market and bought my first piece of Marblehead pottery there. It was a good little buy at that time. I paid $1.50 for it.

APPRAISER:
How long ago was that?

GUEST:
That was about 12 years ago. This here is from the private collection of Dr. Hall, and we bought this in auction. It was given to him by Arthur Baggs, who was the second owner of the Marblehead Pottery Company. And this here was, I believe, one of the original pieces by Dr. Hall, and it was signed by, I think, Hannah Tutt, and she was one of the patients there at the time, because originally, it was founded as a hospital for women who had had nervous breakdowns, and they started it so that they could give them something to do.

APPRAISER:
In the true Arts & Crafts fashion, Marblehead was started as a place where people can convalesce by working in the arts and crafts. I don't know about women with nervous breakdowns-- that's kind of new to me-- but, we'll say, in ballpark. What started as a rather naive pursuit to help patients turned into a very high quality art pottery. The piece closest to me is an earlier one. This probably dates to around 1910 or so, decorated by Hannah Tutt, as you said, and we can see, in addition to the Marblehead mark, we have Hannah Tutt's initials in the bottom of the piece, and very unusual, because it has panthers going around in the band. It's hand-colored, hand-excised, handthrown pot. The one closer to you, which was done by Arthur Baggs, and as we can see, it's got this same Marblehead mark, but the initials A.E.B., for Arthur Baggs, who was the man who ran the company. He was the art director there-- a very famous potter in his own right. This is a much later piece— about 1925, perhaps as late as 1930, a very late piece of Marblehead.

GUEST:
What was the year that they stopped producing the pottery?

APPRAISER:
I believe they went into the '30s before they went under. The Depression put many of these companies out of business.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
You bought these for similar prices?

GUEST:
Yes, I did. I bought both of them for about $3,000 each.

APPRAISER:
About the same time, you say?

GUEST:
Yeah, about ten years ago.

APPRAISER:
The interesting thing about the pricing structure-- as people have learned more about Arts and Crafts and defined the aesthetic and what they're willing to pay for it, the prices have changed as well. So this piece, which you bought ten years ago for $3,000, on today's market, in spite of being by Baggs, is about a $3,000-- maybe a $2,500 piece.

GUEST:
Okay, all right.

APPRAISER:
This one, on the other hand, which is more what people are looking for-- I had a very similar vase. They're all one of a kind, but they did repeat forms and designs.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
I sold this one about six years ago for $22,000.

GUEST:
Six years ago?

APPRAISER:
So you've got $25,000 worth of pots, but this one, you might even lose money on, and you more than made up for it on the other.

GUEST:
Wow, that's great!

APPRAISER:
So it's funny how that works.

GUEST:
Yeah, that's fantastic. That's great, that's super!

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2005)
$25,000 Auction
Event
Tampa, FL (June 25, 2005)
Form
Vase
Material
Pottery

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