KOVELS: ANTIQUES AND COLLECTING: All pre-1930 luster-glazed art pottery is very collectible
The Kovels' Collectors Guide to American Art Pottery was one of two books published in 1974 that explained art pottery. Organized information about factories, marks and artists was included, as well as pictures of the best pottery. Rookwood, Rose...
The Kovels' Collectors Guide to American Art Pottery was one of two books published in 1974 that explained art pottery. Organized information about factories, marks and artists was included, as well as pictures of the best pottery. Rookwood, Roseville, Weller, Grueby, Ohr and other potteries were soon "discovered" by collectors, and prices began to rise. Collectors with limited budgets searched for works by some of the smaller, lesser-known potteries.
Today, because the best of early 20th-century art pottery is in museums or private collections, prices are very high. A $25 vase in 1974 could be worth $2,000 today. So collectors have turned to English, French or German art pottery. It is surprising how similar some of the techniques, shapes and designs appear when you compare American with European art pottery.
One easy-to-trace technique is iridescent glazing. Jacques Sicard made an iridescent glaze for his pottery in France and later for Weller Pottery in Ohio. The metallic luster was so successful that Sicard was determined not to give away his secret. He is said to have worked in a secret room with no peepholes at Weller. But other potteries in both the United States and France were able to make a similar metallic luster.
Today all pre-1930 luster-glazed art pottery from France or the United States is very collectible.
Q: We bought a 10-piece dining-room set at auction several years ago. There's a medallion in the drawer of the buffet that reads, "Special design made for James McCreery & Company, New York, N.Y." I'd like information about the set and its maker. Can you help?
A: McCreery & Co. was a major New York City department store, not a furniture maker. There also might be a maker's mark on your furniture. McCreery's sold quality furniture by various makers, including Drexel and the Byrdcliffe Art Colony. Pieces often were marked by both the store and the maker. McCreery & Co. opened in 1867 as a silk retailer, but within three years, its founder, James McCreery (1826-1903), bought a large building on Broadway and added several other departments to the store. So McCreery's became an early New York department store. McCreery's closed in 1953, so your set was made before then.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States.
Benjamin Harrison song booklet, "True Blue Republican Campaign Songs for 1892," published by S. Brainard's Sons Co., 32 pages, price 10 cents, $110.
Harvard football-player doll, stuffed cloth body, celluloid head, crimson uniform, 14½ inches, $175.
Laurel and Hardy pendant watch on chain, face has one smiling, one frowning, gold luster finish, Dirty Time Co., 1970, 24-inch chain, $335.
Hereke silk rug, center medallion with floral design on pink ground, corner dated 1950, signature in fringe, 2 by 3 feet, $405.
Chippendale-style game table, mahogany, skirt, acanthus-carved knees, green felt-lined playing surface, 1930s, 30 by 36 by 18 inches, $460.
Write to the Kovels
The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Grand Forks Herald), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.