Van Briggle Pottery was founded in Colorado Springs in 1901 by a husband-and-wife team (well, not technically, since Artus and Anne didn’t marry until 1902) who had been decorators for Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati. The most prized Van Briggle pieces are pre-1910, with “AA” (for Artus and Anne) incised on their bottoms. Because Van Briggle used molds for its pieces, production was able to continue long after Artus’s death in 1904. The company is still producing classic Van Briggle designs today.
The acclaim accorded Van Briggle was almost instantaneous. The same year he founded his pottery, Van Briggle took first prize at a show in Paris. The Louvre paid a whopping $3,000 for the winning piece of a male nude wrapped around the opening of a vertical vase. Titled “Despondency,” the piece would become one of Van Briggle’s most famous vases.
In fact, Van Briggle is probably best known for its vases. The “Lorelei” vase, also from 1901, is like a female version of “Despondency,” while “Lady of the Lily” from the same year depicts a female nude leaning against an enormous calla lily. Figurative and floral motifs were a mainstay of the company’s visual vocabulary, although the pottery also produced a number of jugs, whose sides were populated by spiders and spider-like decorations.
One of the other hallmarks of Van Briggle was its luscious satin matte glaze. Hues ranged from Turquoise Ming (still produced today) to a maroon glaze called Persian Rose. Van Briggle was also highly regarded for its architectural tile, which decorated fireplace hearths, chimney tops, and wall fountains.
After some ownership changes in the 1910s, Van Briggle regrouped and continued to produce tall and squat Art Nouveau vases with philodendron, iris, and other floral motifs. Animal figurines became an important part of the company’s line, be it as purely decorative objects and modestly functional ones—elephant bookends, especially in pink, were quite popular. And dragonflies, which had captured the fancy of Tiffany, Lalique, and other designers, also graced the sides of Van Briggle vases.
In the 1930s and ’40s, matching oak-leaf-and-acorn candlesticks shared catalog pages with quarter-moon vases, lamp bases with coordinated shades, and seashell planters, which were sold in the postwar years in 8-, 12-, and 16-inch lengths. Another category of Van Briggle pottery from that era was the American Indian ware, which ranged from tall vases crowned by relief heads of stern-looking braves to small objects depicting Hopi maidens.
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Kovels' New Guide to Contemporary Pottery Now AvailablePR Web (press release), February 11th
Twenty-five years ago, the Kovels' wrote one of the first books about Art Pottery, introducing works by Rookwood, Roseville, Van Briggle and others. Many were not yet “discovered” and not found in marks books or antiques columns. Prices were often...Read more
PHOTOS: Historic Colorado Springs property being remodeled into apartmentsColorado Springs Gazette, January 22nd
Hardwood floors, wood banisters and ornate fireplaces - some with Van Briggle tile - all are being preserved. Much of the work inside the building includes removing or relocating walls and installing kitchens, said Ben Eddy, facilities manager for...Read more
Colorado Springs festival highlights Van Briggle potteryColorado Springs Gazette, September 10th
The Woman's Education Society of Colorado College will present The Historic Van Briggle Pottery Festival on Saturday at the Van Briggle Memorial Pottery Building. "If you have any interest in this town, history, art and historic preservation, even...Read more
Van Briggle Pottery Festival PreviewFOX21News.com, September 9th
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The historic Van Briggle Pottery Building on the Colorado College campus will be open for tours this Saturday, September 12. It's a fundraiser for the Women's Educational Society of Colorado College. Known as “the pottery,” ...Read more
Two Red Roses Foundation Acquires Rare Lorelei Vase by Van BriggleArtfixDaily, July 15th
Auctioneer David Rago, foremost expert in American Arts and Crafts pottery and appraiser on the Antique Roadshow, states: "This vase, which bears a signature in Van Briggle's hand, is the only two-color version from 1902, essentially the first multi...Read more
Van Briggle sale now set for 2013Colorado Springs Gazette, December 28th
The famed Van Briggle Pottery in Colorado Springs likely will be put up for sale in late January after the company was never placed on the market this year as planned, president Craig Stevenson said Thursday. In December 2011, Stevenson said the ...Read more
Van Briggle Pottery, a Springs institution, for saleColorado Springs Gazette, December 1st
The family that owns the famed Van Briggle Pottery, one of the oldest businesses in the Colorado Springs area, has put the company up for sale, Van Briggle's president said Thursday. Craig Stevenson, who along with brother Jeffrey Stevenson and sister ...Read more
Beer to Van BriggleColorado Springs Independent, September 29th
The spot: the historic Midland Terminal Railroad Roundhouse at 600 S. 21st St., former longtime home of Van Briggle Art Pottery. The Roundhouse, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979, is one of the Springs' signature ...Read more