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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Artists' Exchange Announces Summer Camps, Y-Art Sale, and THE BALD ...Broadway World, April 23rd
Thanks to the generosity of The Krista Weller Burns Foundation your child is welcome to Play - Learn - Create - Bloom at the Artists' Exchange monthly CRAFT BASH! Families are welcome to visit our café studio at 50 Rolfe Square on the last Saturday of...Read more
Over 350 lots of rare and unusual Weller Pottery and Royal Bayreuth figurals ...EcommWire (press release), April 16th
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
Things to do in Surrey and Hampshire this EasterGet Surrey, April 15th
An exhibition of contemporary ceramics by celebrated art pottery, Lyngard Ceramics takes place at the Old Pottery Gallery, Watts Gallery Estate in Compton. • Spend a day at Busbridge Lakes Waterfowl and Gardens, situated in a magical valley just 1.5...Read more
The rise and fall of the bicycle crazeZanesville Times Recorder, April 11th
By the turn of the century, a new craze began to replace the bicycle one: In 1900, S.A. Weller, a pottery manufacturer, became the first person in Muskingum County to own an automobile: “All Zanesville gazed, wonder-eyed, at the curious vehicle that...Read more
Collecting old corkscrews can present a challengeWashington Observer Reporter, April 10th
Weller Pottery vase, Sicardo pattern, green iridescent, tapered cylinder, paper label, 5 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches, $275. • Tiffany blotter ends, Bookmark pattern, stamped “Tiffany Studios, New York,” 12 x 2 inches, $300. • Hattie McDaniel photograph, wedding...Read more
Kovels: Unusual corkscrews valuableWinston-Salem Journal, April 10th
Weller Pottery vase, Sicardo pattern, green iridescent, tapered cylinder, paper label, 5 ½ x 3 ¼ inches, $275. Tiffany blotter ends, Bookmark pattern, stamped “Tiffany Studios, New York,” 12 x 2 inches, $300. Hattie McDaniel photograph, wedding...Read more
Can Khosrow Semnani apply his magic touch to Trolley Square?Salt Lake Tribune, April 1st
Trolley Square has bumped along during that time frame with periodic injections of high-profile retailers, such as Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, while stalwarts the likes of The Old Spaghetti Factory and Desert Edge Brewery have kept a steady...Read more
Sikorski's Attic, 3/30/14: Weller pottery tankard likely would catch eye of ...Citrus County Chronicle, March 29th
Dear John: I am not sure these pictures are good enough to tell anything from them. The outline of the fish and plants are etched into the clay. On the bottom of the vase, it says “Dickensware — Weller- #X328.” On one side at the bottom rim is “Upjohn...Read more