1908 Newcomb College Pottery Vase

Value (2010) | $30,000 Auction$40,000 Auction

My sister gave it to me. It was in the home of her husband's uncle in West Palm Beach, and she didn't tell me anything about it except that it was blue. And that I like blue, and I said, "I don't think so. I think it's worth something and you should keep it." And she said, "No, it looks like you and I want you to have it." And so I know absolutely nothing about it. It has a few markings on the bottom, but it wasn't enough to tell me how to look it up.

Sure. Okay, well, let's look at the marks. Right here, there's an "N" inside of a "C," and that stands for Newcomb College, which was located in New Orleans, Louisiana.


There is an impressed mark here, which is a "JM," which is the mark of the man who potted it. His name was Joseph Meyer. There is another symbol here, which are the initials of the woman who made it. Her name was Leona Nicholson. And she was a teacher there at Newcomb College. She taught pottery making. Lastly, there's another number; it says "CE2." And that is part of the date code system that Newcomb College used, and you can look that up on a chart and you can find out exactly what year it was made. So we looked that up, and this piece was made in 1908. Let's take a look at the vase itself. I think one thing that's especially nice about this particular vase, it's got these little yellow accents at the top, and they kind of bring out the yellows in the flowers. Newcomb College was a college that was opened for women, and they taught them very good crafts that women at that point would want to know. They taught them sewing, jewelry making, metal making and pottery making. So all the pottery was decorated by women there at the college, both students and instructors. And then it was sold there at the college. But it was also sold other places in the United States. You could buy it in various cities. It was either in very high-end gift shops, sometimes in museum shops. This particular piece, 1908 would be called kind of a transitional period. Early Newcomb College has a very shiny glaze like this is, which we'd call high glaze. And it was a little simpler and not as interesting. During this period, right after the turn of the century, they continued to make the shiny glaze, but the designs got a little bolder and a little more interesting. And then as they went into the teens and the '20s, they used a matte finish. Newcomb is really known for its blues and greens, and that's what you liked about it.

That's why I liked it.

And this is typical. But yellows were used very rarely, and that's very highly desirable by collectors. Another really great aspect of this pot is it's very deeply carved or incised. So they started out with just a smooth vase and all the designs were carved in with little tools and then the decorator would paint on the glaze colors before it would be fired. Now, this particular pot has a minor problem. It has a small chip on the bottom, which does affect the value a little bit. And then talking about the value, there's another issue. Newcomb College pottery unfortunately has gone down in value in the last five or ten years. But it's still very desirable and very collectible. This is quite large for Newcomb. A lot of Newcomb is very short. And our estimate, at auction this vase would sell for between $30,000 and $40,000.

Oh, my goodness. I'm just flabbergasted that it's worth that much.

Appraisal Details

David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2010)
$30,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
Miami Beach, FL (July 10, 2010)

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