When Samuel Weller launched his one-man, one-room pottery in 1872, he did everything himself. He dug the clay from the Fultenham, Ohio, soil, threw and fired his pieces, and carted them into nearby Zanesville, where he sold them door to door.
At the time, Weller’s repertoire ranged from flower pots to cuspidors, with the occasional piece of stoneware thrown in for good measure. Little could anyone have guessed that within 30 years, Weller Pottery would employ 500 people and be one of the biggest names in hand-painted art pottery in the United States.
While Weller’s roots may have been solo, his success owed a lot to the artisans he hired. The first of these was William Long of Lonhouda Pottery. Long was only at Weller a year or so, but Weller produced his Louwelsa pieces for many years to come. These vases and other decorative objects featured generally dark backgrounds, upon which were florals or portraits, which appeared frozen beneath their shiny overglaze.
The next outsider to help Weller achieve his vision, and success, was Charles Babcock Upjohn, who was hired in 1895 as Weller’s art director—he remained with the firm for almost 10 years. Upjohn is credited with the popular Dickensware II line of 1900, whose surfaces featured figurative illustrations that were literally lifted from the pages of Charles Dickens novels.
Next Weller hired the English potter Frederick Hurton Rhead, who was also only at Weller a year (1902-1903) but left a major mark before moving on to Roseville and Arequipa (Rhead is probably best known as the designer of Fiesta). Among other things, Rhead is credited with Dickensware III, which was a kind of embossed version of Upjohn’s time-consuming-to-produce line. He also produced a number of hand-painted faience plates.
Jacques Sicard, a French ceramist, arrived shortly thereafter. He was brought to Weller to share the secrets of an iridescent majolica. Sicard eventually produced the Sicardo line for Weller, but unlike Long and Rhead, he refused to reveal his formula and methods, leaving the pottery in 1907 with the secrets still in his head.
Coincidental with Sicard’s tenure at Weller was that of Austrian Rudolph Lorber, who brought a menagerie of figurines to the firm. He also excelled at embossing techniques and wa...
The Hobart line aside, Weller did not throw off its Art Nouveau roots. One of the pottery’s biggest sellers during the 1920s was its Hudson line of vases, whose floral paintings were decidedly nostalgic for the turn of the century, and are today considered among the finest examples of hand-painted production pottery in the early 20th century. Simultaneously, Weller produced several lines that used relief on their surfaces to dramatic effect, from the birds and daisies of the Knifewood line to the floral decorations of Marvo.
By the 1930s, the days of hand painting at Weller were numbered. Indeed, the company’s painted lines during the decade, from Bonito to Stellar, were extremely simplistic compared to what had come before. By 1935, Weller was only making molded pottery and in 1948, after struggling to stay afloat during World War II, the company closed for good.
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Treasures: Kingfisher flower frog common among Weller piecesColumbus Ledger-Enquirer, May 25th
Weller is the name of a pottery making company that originated in Fultonham, Ohio, in around 1872. The proprietor was Samuel A. Weller, who some might call an "entrepreneur," while others would judge him to be something of an opportunistic scoundrel...Read more
Archaeologist digging for clues to Camp SecurityYork Dispatch, May 24th
The process, which in its entirety is slated to take six weeks, began with shovelling and screening top soil which unearthed three dozen pieces of red earthenware pottery, Warfel said, noting the find could be from the late 18th or early 19th century...Read more
Modest auction sales can still pack a big punchTribune-Review, May 17th
The reconnection also rekindles memories of J.S. Dill sales with large collections of art pottery from Roseville, Weller, Hull and other well-known name brands. Art glass from Fenton and Baccarat, to mention a few, adds some sparkle, as well. Detch...Read more
Highlights of Genesee ARC's 49th Annual MeetingWBTA, May 16th
The spotlight shone on dozens of awards recipients Friday night at Genesee ARC's 49th Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony at the Clarion Hotel, emceed by WBTA's Dan Fischer. ARC Executive Director Donna Saskowski welcomed guests and shared an ...Read more
Genesee ARC shines spotlight on community and staffersThe Daily News Online, May 15th
Erin Saile and Sara Manurung — Each owns a ceramics/pottery business in Genesee County and work together to offer ceramics classes to individuals with disabilities served by Genesee ARC. ... Claudia Nigro — 25 years; Sherri Raab and Daniel Cox — 20...Read more
Recliner shows simple style of Mission furnitureChicago Daily Herald, May 8th
A. You have a vase made by Weller Pottery. They were in business from 1882 to 1948 in Zanesville, Ohio. "Sicardo" is the name of a line of pottery that Weller made between 1901 and 1907. It was the creation of French designer, Jacques Sicard. • Address ...Read more
Hunzinger chairs not as scarce as once thoughtColumbus Dispatch, May 3rd
Weller pottery, Woodcraft flower holder, five stepped openings, green, brown, 6 inches, $45. • Vasa Murrhina, water pitcher, clear glass, mottled pink, white, silver mica, 8 inches, $120. • Razor, pearl pique handle, silver inlaid pins, Morocco leather...Read more
Kovels: 'Lollipop chairs' have unique styleWinston-Salem Journal, May 1st
Q: When I came to the U.S. from the U.K. some 25 years ago, I brought my collection of Moorcroft pottery. Some of the pieces date back to the 1930s. As I have passed my “sell-by” date, I would like to sell some or all of them. Unfortunately, there...Read more