Founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, Rookwood pottery is a favorite of collectors for the quality of its pieces, which were hand-decorated by a diverse group of artists (though some simpler pieces were mass-produced, especially during the Depression).
Rookwood pieces were sold at the factory showroom and at jewelry and department stores nationwide. Drawing from European and Asian styles, the company was very involved with the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements, and its pieces are still prized as some of the best examples of those styles.
In addition to its signature vases, Rookwood also produced architectural tile and smaller items such as bookends, paperweights and figurines. There were between 20 and 25 artists decorating pieces at the Rookwood factory at any given time (some of the most notable included Kataro Shirayamadani, Albert Valentine, Sara Sax, and Jens Jensen).
Rookwood’s artists were innovative and helped change the way art pottery was created and designed. Kataro Shirayamadani covered the entire piece with decoration versus just the front as was previously done, and Laura Fry created the atomizer, allowing artists to evenly apply glazes and use color gradations. In the early 1900s, Rookwood began using matte finishes and vellum glaze, a translucent matte glaze.
Collectors should note that the vast majority of Rookwood pieces are very clearly marked. Very early pieces say “Rookwood,” and later pieces (starting in the mid-1880s) feature the Rookwood logo: a backwards R and P side-by-side. Rookwood closed its factory in the 1960s, but the copyright has been continuously enforced.
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Recent News: Rookwood Art Pottery
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Union Terminal murals in danger of losing their history at CVGFOX19, August 4th
"This is one of two murals depicting Rookwood pottery, a business here in Cincinnati," said Gampfer. [See photos of the murals here]. Each of the murals depict a Cincinnati industry. The artist Winold Reiss traveled to several places in Cincinnati and...Read more
Platform rockers are not hot sellersLas Vegas Review-Journal, August 2nd
She saw some French Haviland pottery at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and after experimenting she was able to make pottery with similar decorations. In 1880, she started the Rookwood pottery where they made white graniteware and yellow clay pieces...Read more
Joseph Rippe, co-founder of CPA firm, dies at 65Cincinnati.com, August 1st
In late 1977, Mr. Rippe, along with his family and other investors, bought the Highland Tower, the Rookwood Building and both the Celestial and Rookwood Pottery restaurants. Mr. Rippe served on the board of the Dan Beard Council for the Boy Scouts of ...Read more
Antiques | Rookwood tiles fetch high pricesThe Courier-Journal, August 1st
She saw some French Haviland pottery at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and after experimenting she was able to make pottery with similar decorations. In 1880, she started the Rookwood pottery, where they made white graniteware and yellow clay pieces...Read more
Accounting firm founder Rippe diesCincinnati Business Courier, July 31st
Over the years, Rippe, his family and other investors bought the Highland Tower, the Rookwood Building and both the Celestial and Rookwood Pottery restaurants in Mount Adams. “Joe Rippe was an astute businessman, a great leader, a visionary and a ...Read more
Rookwood in business but older pottery most valuableHeraldNet, July 24th
Rookwood pottery probably is the most famous of the art potteries made in the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was started by Maria Longworth Nichols of Cincinnati in 1880, the first of many art potteries founded by women. She saw...Read more