Grueby Faience, No Reserves and Rookwood Galore at Toomey & Co: The Keramics and Rookwood Auction

by Kate Nixon

With a wide range of classic pots from many iconic and respected Rookwood artists and high quality examples from Roseville, Weller, Cowan, Fulper, Wheatley and other Art & Crafts era pottery firms, the now popular tradition Keramics & Rookwood auction shines the light on the museum-quality colorful antiques in time for the start of summer. Works from founder Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, Albert R. Valentien and Lenore Asbury, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Artus Van Briggle, and William Moorcroft have already captured the eye of several collectors. The auction also includes popular Contemporary Art potters like Paul Katrich, Stephanie Young, and Eric Olson – familiar names to annual attendees of the National Arts and Crafts Shows and the American Art Pottery Association Sale. Another attractive feature of this auction for Art Pottery collectors are the many lots marked “No Reserve” – meaning the “Reserve,” or a lowest price the seller will accept, won’t exist for those marked lots. The final winning bid will be the final price of that lot without any minimum price to match.

Before the auction starts June 13th, there is already fierce online bidding competition on a few of the Art Pottery works, among them “No Reserve” lots. We start with works from Grueby Faience, two lots that have the added No Reserve appeal.

The Pines trivet

Addison LeBoutillier for Grueby Faience Company

USA, c. 1906
glazed earthenware decorated in cuenca
6 h × 6 w × 1 d in (15 × 15 × 3 cm)

estimate: $1,500–2,000

shown in The Ceramics of William H. Grueby, Montgomery, pg. 67

View the lot here via

Collection of three tiles

Grueby Faience Company

A swan tile and two landscape tiles
USA, c. 1905
glazed earthenware decorated in cuenca
4¼ h × 4¼ w × ½ d in (11 × 11 × 1 cm) 4 h × 4 w × ½ d in (10 × 10 × 1 cm)

estimate: $2,000–3,000

The vases of Overbeck Pottery are popular among collectors — the one-of-a-kind customized designs by the Cambridge City, Indiana group of sisters bring an American made appeal to the collectors of the time and in modern day. This particular example was created by Elizabeth and Hannah Overbeck; Hannah as the watercolorist and Elizabeth, trained by Charles Fergus Binns in New York, was the sister who developed the glazes and threw the vase on the kiln.

Another vase, a mustard-colored landscaped example developed by an unknown artist of Paul Revere Pottery, has gotten a number of pre-auction bids already. The vase seems poised to surpass the $3,000 high estimate. This example is clearly representative of the popular Cuerda seca method of ceramic design, indicated by the black outlines in the design.

Vase with stylized leaves and seed pods

Elizabeth and Hannah Overbeck for Overbeck Pottery
USA, c. 1925
carved and glazed earthenware
5″ h × 2¾ dia in (14 × 7 cm)

estimate: $1,500–2,500

Scenic vase

Paul Revere Pottery
USA, 1926
glazed earthenware
8½ h × 7½ dia in (22 × 19 cm)

estimate: $2,000–3,000

The works of Maria Longworth Nichols Storer

Any featured collection of high end Rookwood ceramic works would be incomplete without a few nods to founder Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, an artist in her own right. From a young girl, Maria was drawn to the darker, scarier and grotesque of the natural world, one being the black ravens that inhabited her father’s estate. While Longworth did create examples of floral vases and works, her go-to motifs were spiders and bats.

The examples in the auction for bid show a number of her early works and her affinity for her preferred motifs. The signed ‘dull finish’ ewer featured below ($3,000-$5,000) shows a “glazed and gilt” earthenware design with bats against the full moon with a stamped shopmark underside along with the “M L N” initials of Longworth. The rare and early Limoges style tea caddy ($4,000-$5,000) shows not only spiders and their webs, but a bright sunset-like background and vibrant colorful flowering trees and bamboos. The tea caddy is signed and both lids of the caddy are perfectly intact. The third example is an early one, a Limoge vase featuring foxes chasing a number of geese ($7,000-$9,000). While the fox and geese example is not signed, the professionals point to Longworth as the artist as no other Rookwood artist had the playful and dark style like Longworth at so early a time in the Rookwood company.

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer for Rookwood Pottery Early and Tall Dull Finish ewer with bats among clouds and a full moon USA, 1882 glazed and gilt earthenware 11½ h × 7 w × 6½ d in (29 × 18 × 17 cm) estimate: $3,000–5,000

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, attribution for Rookwood Pottery Important Early Limoges style vase with foxes chasing flying geese USA, 1881 glazed and gilt earthenware 13″ h × 8½ dia in (34 × 22 cm) estimate: $7,000–9,000

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer for Rookwood Pottery Rare and Early Limoges style tea caddy USA, 1882 glazed earthenware 6″ h × 5¼ dia in (17 × 13 cm) estimate: $4,000–5,000

Martin Rettig for Wheatley Pottery

Early Limoges style vase with large Dutch galleon and boats at sea

USA, 1880
glazed earthenware
12 h × 7¾ w × 3⅛ d in (30 × 20 × 8 cm)

estimate: $600–800

Rookwood Pottery

Collection of three Iris Glaze vases

USA, 1901, 1903, 1909
glazed earthenware
6¾ h × 3″ dia in (17 × 8 cm) 6″ h × 3″ dia in (16 × 9 cm) 6 h × 3 dia in (15 × 8 cm)

estimate: $700–900

Mae Timberlake for Weller Pottery

Tall Hudson vase with irises

USA, c. 1925
glazed earthenware
15″ h × 7″ w × 7 d in (40 × 20 × 18 cm)

estimate: $500–700

View the lot here via

Sara Sax for Rookwood Pottery

Rare French Red potpourri jar with Art Deco foliate motif

USA, 1921
carved and glazed porcelain
4½ h × 5 dia in (11 × 13 cm)

estimate: $4,000–6,000

Want to see more of the Keramics & Rookwood Auction?

Click here to see the entire online catalog and bid!