Antique Tips: Guide To Roseville Pottery

An introduction to Roseville Pottery, with pitfalls for the beginning collector to avoid. Describes the lines produced by this famous art pottery company, and tips on identifying counterfeits.

Guide to Roseville Pottery

The Roseville Pottery Company was founded in Roseville Ohio in 1890, and produced pottery in Roseville and Zanesville Ohio until 1954. Beginning as a manufacturer of utilitarian ware, Roseville began producing art pottery early in the 20th century.

Roseville primarily produced vases, planters, and pitchers, and their lines from the early 20th century are often in styles associated with Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement. Many of these pieces are unmarked.

From the 1920s until the company ceased operation in 1954, much of Roseville's wares were in the floral patterns that are most familiar to collectors today. Non-glossy matte finishes and soft muted colors are a hallmark of these patterns. Fuschia, Wisteria, Water Lily, and Columbine are only a few examples of the floral lines. Their most popular pattern, Pine Cone, was introduced in the 1930s and remained in production for fifteen years.

When collecting Roseville, it helps to have a plan. Buying every piece of Roseville you can find will soon result in a full house and an empty bank account. Think of what it is that appeals to you most about Roseville, and collect that. Some collectors try to collect every piece of a particular line, say, every different shape and size in Freesia or Ming Tree. Others collect a particular type of item, such as the pitchers or small vases, and like to get as many different types of their item as possible.

Several cautions are in order for the beginning Roseville collector. First, in many antique shops and auctions, you will begin to notice pieces of pottery marked "R.R.P.Co. Roseville Ohio". Some dealers and auctioneers even refer to these pieces as "Roseville". They're not. This is the mark of the Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery Company in Roseville Ohio, and while many of these pieces are quite attractive, they are not what collectors mean when they talk about "Roseville", and they are in a different and much lower value range.

The second caution is more difficult for the beginning collector, and that is the problem with modern reproductions, or to put it more bluntly, counterfeit Roseville. These new pieces are done in the same patterns as genuine Roseville, usually the floral lines, and even have the distinctive Roseville mark on the bottom. Sometimes you'll find these pieces with their modern "Made In China" sticker on them, but these paper stickers are often removed.

How do you tell the modern counterfeits from genuine Roseville? First, look at the quality of the item. The counterfeits are generally clumsily done, with the hand decoration more sloppily applied than with genuine Roseville. They were not made with the original Roseville molds, but with copies of the molds, and the handles are usually thicker and the patterns shallower and less precise. Then, look at the bottom. Ignore the Roseville mark, which both the genuine and counterfeit items have; you're looking for signs of wear and age. If a piece looks brand new, it probably is brand new, and a brand new piece of "Roseville" is not genuine. Remember that even the most recent piece of genuine Roseville is going to be almost fifty years old.

Many books have been written on Roseville Pottery. Check with your local library or book store and do a little research before plunging into the exciting world of Roseville collecting.

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