by Kate Nixon
Keramics & Rookwood: American & European Art Pottery
curated by Riley Humler
Thursday, June 15th
Toomey & Co. will offer over 350 works in Keramics & Rookwood: American & European Art Pottery on June 15th. Curated by specialist Riley Humler, this sale features vases, bowls, pitchers, sculptures, landscapes, and decorative items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many impressive pieces of Rookwood will be offered, including examples by Ed Diers, Kataro Shirayamadani, Matthew Daly, Arthur Conant, Sallie Toohey, Carl Schmidt, Albert R. Valentien, and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer. Additional works will be auctioned from other esteemed potteries: Newcomb College, Pewabic, Cowan, Weller, Royal Doulton, Haviland & Co., Ruskin, and more.
This annual auction, curated by Humler, will feature works from the collection of William and Joyce Streffon, a couple that Humler got to know due to an ad he placed in a local newspaper. “I occasionally advertised in the Wanted sections of the Tri-State Trader and Antique Week looking for Rookwood,” Humler wrote on the Toomey & Co website. “Bill saw my ad and reached out to me. He did not want to sell but like any good collector, he wanted to share.” Riley was not only invited to see the impressive collection in Detroit and again as a representative of the Cincinnati Art Gallery, but his family kept in touch due to their shared interest. When the couple passed, the family naturally contacted Humler. “I am still amazed at some of the examples Bill and Joyce gathered back in the day when people collected without the aid of the internet.”
Among the 450+ lot auction are a noticeable grouping of Eocean line vases from Weller Pottery, a collection of Pewabic pottery examples, a number of Red Louwelsa examples for Weller, and Ivory jewel porcelain works from Rookwood.
The Rare and the Monumental Rookwood
We start off with a vibrantly purple and blue example by John Dee Wareham (the artist’s initials are stamped on the bottom), which was purportedly shown in the Rookwood’s display in the Paris Exposition in 1900. The glazed earthenware vase with the purple and blue glaze ($2,000-3,000) measures 13 inches high and 4 3/4 inches diameter. Matthew Daly’s example of the “Flowing Glaze” also stands as special as the glaze – made from 1900 to 1901 – is a derivation of Rookwood’s Iris Glaze and this glaze tends to blend and flow over the decoration. The sunny colored vase with a flower design ($2,000–3,000) is one of twenty known examples. Kiiche Yamada’s rare incised mat vase displays a unique style from what is typically seen in the period. The carved vase ($800–1,000) was made in 1906 for Rookwood Pottery.
One highlight of the Rookwood offerings is a limoges style jardiniere by leading figure Maria Longworth Nichols Storer; a rosy glazed earthenware vase decorated with fruit blossoms, wild splashes of color and several small black spiders ($4,000–6,000). Made in 1882, it was made in two parts and were fused together horizontally. The vase was a gift from a wealthy New York family for whom the seller’s family worked.
Albert Valentien’s Decorated Bailey’s Red vase example ($2,000–2,500) previously acquired by the Cincinnati Art Gallery, is the only example of that type recorded and only known example in existence. According to Anita Ellis, Rookwood’s ceramic engineer Stanley G. Burt mentioned the one “with dragon” when discussing this glaze line. Lastly, the well known artist Kataro Shirayamadani designed the monumental standard glaze floor vase with dragons ($10,000–20,000): the red and yellow gradient glazed vase is sold with a well-constructed brass stand that adds height. Sallie Toohey’s oil lamp base with poppies ($5,000–7,000) is sold with a reproduction Tiffany-style ‘Acorn’ leaded glass shade by Century Studios.
Additional highlights from Newcomb College, Pewabic, Fulper, Weller Pottery and more: