Watch Out for Those Cheap, Green Pots

While it was never intended to do so, each year the National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn kicks off a new year for Arts and Crafts collectors.

And before we lose any momentum, our attention now turns to the annual convention of the American Art Pottery Association to be held in Cincinnati on April 10-13.

Even before I discovered Arts and Crafts, I was always a wood guy. Back then it was classy Victorian walnut and fancy Golden Oak. Among my weaknesses (one of many) were those enormous wardrobes: a fancy top over two large paneled doors over two lower drawers. And my specialty was carefully removing the back, then sliding in a boxed set of shelves custom made to hold a stereo system and LP records (that tells you just how long ago it was!), then replacing the back. I fitted a couple for myself over the years, as well as for friends who came over and saw how I could hide a stereo system, even a small television set, inside an antique wardrobe.

And while I never thought about it until right now, it is interesting to note that as common as wardrobes were in the 19th century Victorian styles, they actually are rather uncommon in Arts and Crafts collections. My only supposition is that architects eventually started adding more closets to houses, so there was less need for 20th century wardrobes.

Regardless, being a wood guy and raising two sons, who once while wrestling put a foot through a glass pane in a Gustav Stickley bookcase, I never felt comfortable buying or displaying any valuable art pottery. We could handle one of those thick Roseville mostique bowls on the fireplace mantle or an unsigned green vase with the faint impression of a molded leaf, but that’s it. Not to mention that our cat once pushed a chipped and undecorated Marblehead vase off a shelf.

Our motto became: if it won’t bounce, don’t buy it.

But that all ended at last year’s AAPA convention in Philadelphia. There I was in a room full of nothing but American art pottery, from the rarest early Van Briggle to, yes, a couple of those late Roseville mostique bowls, and I suddenly realized it: I don’t have to buy only cheap green pots anymore.

My sons are grown and gone, my cats are too lazy to climb anything higher than a couch, and my house is full of wood, so why not start collecting art pottery?

I had a great time at last year’s convention, acting like a new collector, which I was, buying pieces I liked for their decoration (a soft, delicate iris on a Weller vase) or their form (a buttressed piece of Hampshire) or their color (a light blue Marblehead vase).

And it all fit into my overnight bag that I carried with me onto the plane.

And so I’m looking forward to next month’s AAPA convention, with its collection of art pottery dealers and the exciting fund-raising auction (where the best bargains are to be found!).

I hope you’ll give some thought to making the trip over to Cincinnati, the home of Rookwood Pottery and the site of this year’s American Art Pottery Convention on April 10-13.

Where you just might find more than a cheap, green pot.

Until next Monday,

Thanks for stopping by!


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Top: Paul Woolmer and JoAnn Woodall, who exhibit at both the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference and the AAPA Convention each year.

Middle: A Roseville “Mostique” bowl.