Polia Pillin Pottery Collection, ca. 1970

Value (2012) | $4,200 Retail$6,300 Retail
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GUEST:
I was really prominent in the women's movement in the '70s and my husband was not threatened by that. In fact, he collected this pottery for me. Didn't tell me a thing and just went and got this wonderful pottery that's so reminiscent of women in action and all of this kind of thing. And I was so pleased to think that he would think of me like that. And he's gone now, but this is a wonderful memory for me.

APPRAISER:
And about what years would you think that was?

GUEST:
Probably the early '70s, I'd say.

APPRAISER:
And do you have an idea how much he might have paid?

GUEST:
I don't.

APPRAISER:
Tell me what you know about the potter.

GUEST:
Well, I read up about her, and she was a local potter in this area.

APPRAISER:
And her name was?

GUEST:
Pillin.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
She's Eastern European by origin.

APPRAISER:
Her name was Polia Pillin. And she was born in Poland in 1909. She and her family immigrated to the United States in about 1924. And then in the late '20s, she married her husband, William Pillin. Now, they studied art and pottery making a little bit in Chicago, where they lived a couple of times. They lived in New Mexico for a time. And so they did have basic courses. But a lot of her painting skills were entirely her own. She just learned by herself how to do it. She made pottery, but her husband did as well. So in some things they collaborated, but she always did the painting and the decoration herself. She lived a long life, and she lived until 1992. Now in 1948, they moved to Los Angeles, and they lived there most of the rest of their lives, but did travel to other places, apparently to Seattle, as you said. Now, her pottery I can spot it across the room. So many potters do things in the style of other potters, and that's good, they're all inspired by each other. But no one has really ever copied her. She was an individualist, and she painted what she wanted to paint. Now, the pottery itself is not very sophisticated. The shapes are simple, some of it is kind of clunky and almost a little crude, but it's not about the pottery, it's about the painted decoration.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
She considered pottery to be her canvas. There were a number of significant themes that she concentrated on, which were what appealed to you.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Her number one theme was women. This is a typical one of her women. And then here we have a dancer. She did lots of dancers. So occasionally you'll see a man dancing with a woman, but it's still all about the woman.

GUEST:
(laughing) Yes.

APPRAISER:
Another popular theme was horses. Several of these have horses, including this one, which is three blue horses, which encircle the vase. Another theme is birds. The woman on the bowl in the center is holding a bird. And here, the box, those are like roosters. Now, you will see shapes replicated and themes replicated, but each one is more or less one of a kind. The colors are not just paint, but they're actually mixed with a ceramic body. She painted it on rather thickly and then glazed over that. So it gave it an interest effect. Let's look at the mark. It's stylized. That's a mark that we look for on the Pillin pottery. Now, the values are based upon a number of factors. Color is very important. This is a very large vase, the one on the top closest to you, decorated with horses and riders, and it has brown tones, which are nice, but people really like the jewel tones. The two vases on the top, this one is a little bit better than that one, even though it's smaller, but the colors are a little bit better, and there's a varied decoration around the vase. I would estimate a retail value of the top two vases between $1,000 and $1,500 apiece.

GUEST:
Oh, that's nice.

APPRAISER:
On the lower tier here, we've got a vase near you and a bowl here and a vase here. All three of those I think would have a similar price, somewhere between $600 and $900 apiece.

GUEST:
Oh, how nice.

APPRAISER:
The covered box on the bottom would be a value somewhere between $400 and $600.

GUEST:
Oh, my, that's lovely.

APPRAISER:
That was a wonderful gift that your husband gave you.

GUEST:
Yes, yes, it was.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2012)
$4,200 Retail$6,300 Retail
Event
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Bowl, Plate, Vase
Material
Pottery

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