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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Open Doors listings beginning Dec. 20: Holiday programs, sales and moreThe Providence Journal, December 19th
Hearthside House at 677 Great Rd., in Lincoln, hosts Home for the Holidays Candlelight Tours Dec. 27 and 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. Costumed interpreters discuss the history of the house while leading the guided tours of the seasonally decorated house. Tours...Read more
Notes from the antiques market: Inkwell ain't nothin' but a hound dogLancasterOnline, December 4th
Also coming across the block will be Rookwood, Roseville and Weller pottery, Tiffany lamps and a collection of more than 300 candlestick telephones. The silver inkwell measures 9 inches across, and the dog's head flips up to reveal a glass well insert...Read more
Oakwood Arbor hears about Native American artifactsThe Paulding County Progress, November 30th
OAKWOOD – Oakwood Arbor Group, an extension of the Gleaner Insurance Co., met recently for a regular monthly meeting at the Oakwood Cooper Library. Guest speaker for the evening was Ryan Weller, a Paulding High School graduate, graduate of ...Read more
Open Doors listings beginning Nov. 29The Providence Journal, November 28th
Part yard sale, part community arts event, the event features artisans, vendors, a gallery showcase of paintings, pottery and items made from reclaimed and repurposed objects. Visitors can design .... The Krista Weller Burns Foundation sponsors the...Read more
A Weekend of Christmas in Miltonhngnews.com, November 25th
Repeated business trips beginning with a drive from their home in Madison to Chicago inspired Bill Wilson and Ethel Himmel to look for a home in their native state closer to O'Hare. In 1998 they stopped to look at a house on Madison Avenue and happened ...Read more
Antiques & collecting: Egyptian furniture has lost its appealColumbus Dispatch, November 23rd
A: Beswick, an English pottery, made flasks for Beneagles Scotch Whisky. Twenty different animal shapes were ... Weller vase, Dickens Ware, Bleak House, man holding child's hand, rusty glaze, 153/4 inches by 7 inches, $375. • Typewriter, Blickensderfer No...Read more
DOUG'S Q-C COLLECTIBLES Particular pottery piece appeals to plentyQuad City Times, November 23rd
This wonderfully wistful example of art pottery was made by the Weller Pottery Co. Sam Weller established the business in Fultenham, Ohio, in 1872, but moved it to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1882. By 1915, Weller was the largest art pottery company in the world...Read more
More than 350 pieces of Weller pottery and Royal Bayreuth figurals will be ...ArtfixDaily (blog), April 15th
LONE JACK, Mo. – A little more than 350 lots of rare and unusual Weller Pottery and Royal Bayreuth figurals from the single-owner lifetime collection of Dale and Nancy Carter will come up for bid on Saturday, April 26th, at Dirk Soulis Auctions, in the...Read more