The Allure of Rookwood: An Art Pottery Auction at Toomey & Co
by Kate Nixon
The enthusiasm of American art pottery collectors online and otherwise was on hand at a full intensity last Thursday as the Keramics & Rookwood: American & European Art Pottery started as the Spring/Summer auction season continues.
The special 412 lot auction featured a variety of works of Rookwood Pottery, many of them early and important examples. The notable artists who works captured the attention of collectors all over the country this past Thursday included Maria Longsworth Nichols Storer, Kataro Shirayamadani, Sara Sax, Arthur Conant, and William Hentschel, whose porcelain Mat Moderne vase sold for $20,000. The story behind this particular vase, according to the Toomey & Co appraisers, is this particular vase was created during Rookwood’s 50th anniversary in 1930. During a special kiln opening on November 27th where investors and guest could peruse the latest creations, works were stamped with a special ink stamp, showing the number 50. The vase auctioned was one such vase. The rare stamp and stylized lotus design helped to make the vase a popular work to bet on.
Another vase for bid, made by Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, is said to have been among the earliest works ever made by Rookwood. The earthenware vase with a three-toed dragon, flying bats and fired-on gold decoration matched with the artist’s style, but it has been believed to be created before Rookwood had a marking system, placing the possible creation date in the 1880’s and made with the company’s first kiln, unloaded Thanksgiving day in 1880. The rarity of the work combined with the quality shape it’s been kept in contributed to the high selling price of $23,750. A combination Rookwood base with Tiffany Studios “Acorn” shade managed as one would expect, to gain plenty of attention. The base – itself a bright example of the floral theme which inspires so many works of the Rookwood name – also boasted an original Rookwood label from the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition, one of several reasons it sold for $25,000. (see all examples below)
The lots of Rookwood up for auction sold often times to both the experienced collector and the beginning collector as the firm’s name was known for affordability and high quality works. Several vases sold for a few thousands, which some other high quality vases – albeit smaller examples – sold in the hundreds, making them great to start a collection. Other firms that had their day in the spotlight included: Roseville Pottery, Weller Pottery, and the University of North Dakota School of Mines, which all their works sold well and over all estimates.
Last week, we picked out a number of items to keep watch of. Here’s how they sold:
All prices are realized and photos/descriptions are courtesy of Toomey & Co Auctioneers.
Marie de Hoa LeBlanc (1874-1954) for Newcomb College Iris vase
New Orleans, Louisiana, 1903 (date code Z 47)
high glazed ceramic
impressed NC, W for white clay and incised MHLeB (artist’s initials)
base also incised JM by the potter, Joseph Fortune Meyer (1848-1931)
Mesures 4 1/4″dia x 6 7/16″h
Sold for: $10,625
Marie A. Seaman for Grueby fine two-color vase with carved trefoil flowers and overlapping leaves
Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1903
matte green and yellow glazed ceramic
impressed factory marks and incised artist’s initials
Measures 8 1/2″dia x 12 3/4″h
Sold for: $12,500
Roseville Pottery Co. Imperial II floor vase in green, shape number 744-19
Zanesville, Ohio, circa 1924
shape number in orange grease pencil
Measures 12 1/2″dia x 19 3/8″h
Sold for $2,625
Arthur Eugene Baggs (1886-1947) at Ohio State University handthrown ovoid earthenware vase in copper blue glaze
Columbus, Ohio, 1935
matte glazed ceramic
painted signature and date, handwritten paper label “#1 NFS Copper Blue vase Arthur E. Baggs Hughes Hall O.S.U.”
Measures 6 3/4″dia x 10 1/2″h
Sold for $1,875
Maria Longworth Nichols Storer (1849-1932) for Rookwood Pottery earthenware vase with a three-toed dragon, flying bats and fired-on gold decoration
Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1880
high glazed ceramic
incised “Rookwoob [sic] Pottery Cin Ohio, M.L.N”
Measures 12 1/2″dia x 13″h
Catalog note: please visit toomeyco.com for the full history behind this product.
Sold for: $23,750
Kataro Shirayamadani (1865-1948) for Rookwood Pottery / Tiffany Studios table lamp: Acorn shade on a carved base with brightly colored floral decoration, shape number 645Z
Cincinnati, Ohio, 1903 (base); New York, New York (shade)
matte glazed ceramic, leaded slag glass
base with impressed factory marks, incised artist’s cypher, original Rookwood label from 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition and partial paper label from a retailer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; shade with stamped marks
Measures overall: 14″dia x 21 1/4″h; base only: 7 3/4″dia x 14 1/4″h
Sold for: $25,000
Sara Sax (1870-1949) for Rookwood Pottery fine porcelain French Red glaze vase with fuchsia decoration, shape number 2191
Cincinnati, Ohio, 1922
high and matte glazed ceramic
impressed factory marks and artist’s monogram
Measures 3 5/8″dia x 5 1/8″h
Catalog Note: please see toomeyco.com for the history behind this piece.
Sold for: $10,625
To see all sold prices, please visit Toomey & Co’s website by clicking HERE.