Pottery: Is It Antique Or Not?

Antique pottery can be hard to determine if it is antique, this article gives information on how to determin if your piece is antique or not.

Pottery is made from clay baked in a kiln. The metal or mineral content is what created the basic color. Clay can be many different colors such as red, yellow, white, brown or gray. Pottery is most often used for less expensive ware.

Red ware is the name for objects made of red clay, it can be thrown on a potter's wheel or simply molded by hand. It s brittle and can be easily damaged, it is usually coated with a glaze, because it has large pores and absorbs the liquids. Yellow ware is English of American earthenware commonly used for kitchen items like mixing bowls. These are not often marked. Stoneware is refined earth wares made of a combination of clays and gassy ingredients. Most stone wares range in color from light gray to brown and are durable, dense and lightweight when thinly potted. Spatter ware and sponge wares were both produced in the nineteenth century, and were used mostly for decoration. Spatter ware is earthenware that has been spattered with colored liquefied clay, usually blue or red. Sponge ware is earthenware made for everyday use. It is heavier potted and more primitive that spatter ware, it is decorated with dabs of color applied with a sponge. Another variety of pottery is ironstone, which is an early nineteenth century type of white earthen ware that is sometimes called Stone China, or in America, White Granite Ware. It is tough and thick, plain or transfer=printed, it was frequently used for large dinner services or as commercial tableware.

Most American and European Arts and Crafts potters of the late nineteenth century worked in pottery rather than porcelain. True to its style, their wares were naturalistic and organic in color and shape, most were often handmade. Some of the most recognized potters of the nineteenth included people like Charles Volkmar, Chelsea Keramic, Lonhuda, George Ohr, Grueby Faience, Adalaide Alsop Robineau and Artus Van Briggle. There were manufactures and schools that were noted for their potter abilities as well such as Rookwood, Weller and Newcomb College.



Charles Volkmar's pottery was decorated with ladscapes and animals, which reflects his training as a painter. Chelsea Keramic became the Dedham Pottery and made blue-and- white tableware. Many of the best art potters were trained at Rookwood. The firm made lamps, mantels and wall plaques and many other unusual items. Lonhuda was best known for a high-glass brown glaze on a yellow body, his work imitated Native American pottery shapes and images. Weller was one of the largest pottery works in the world, which manufactured everything from matte-green art pottery to the oil-slick glazes of Jacques Sicard. George Ohr was a self-proclaimed eccentric and genius, who made thousand of pieces of pottery, with no two alike, using a variety of techniques. Newcomb College trained women potters, and every piece is marked with the initials of the college, its designer and its potter. Grueby Faience was a factory that was known both for its art pottery and its architectural tiles.

One of the great pleasures of pottery is that they are often marked. A single mark on a piece of pottery can reveal the country and often the factory that it was manufactured in as well as the year it was made. The marks can even tell you the very month that is was made.

Marks are usually printed under the glaze, using a stamp or transfer technique. You will find them located on the bottom or back of an object. Sometimes they are painted over or under the glaze. If a piece has no mark, it may predate the use of marks and would be worth researching. It was common in the late-nineteenth and twentieth century wares to have no mark.

The value of pottery depends on its condition. A cracked vase or bowl is useful only as a cabinet piece, because it can not be handled, used or displayed in the front, this is a drawback. Just because these pieces are old does not necessarily mean they are valuable. Ornamental objects such as vases or figures are often more valuable than utilitarian pieces like cups and saucers the most least sought after of pottery wares. Although all potteries are fragile, if damaged collectors will only accept very rare pieces. On common pieces chips, cracks and replaced parts destroy the value. If you find a piece that the designs are printed on these are usually less valuable than pieces that the designs are hand painted on.

© High Speed Ventures 2011