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 ...
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 was responsible for Weller’s Zona, Brighton, and Coppertone lines, as well as the Art Deco Hobart from the 1920s. One Zanesville native who worked closely with Lorber was Dorothy England Laughead, who collaborated with him on a series of large-scale ceramic animals that were used as decorative touches in gardens.
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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Photographs by Moat artist Mary Weingarden are on display this weekend at ...Moab Times Independent, May 9th
Savage Spirit! at 87 N. Main St. will showcase raku pottery, beads and jewelry of Moab artisan, Amy Mealey. Raku pottery is fired in a special kiln, then place in a container with combustible materials. Weller has been dedicated to exploring the...Read more
Mason ART WALK for May Offers Delightful Diversity of ExhibitsMason County News, May 1st
More than a dozen participating galleries and businesses will open their doors to you from 10am until 7pm on Friday and from 10am until 5pm on Saturday revealing a wealth of artwork, sculpture, string art, wearable art, pottery, functional ceramics and...Read more
Springer home highlights Saturday's home tourApalachicola Times, May 1st
Modern updates have made the residence more comfortable, but the house remains true to its original plan. Of special interest are a collection of Weller pottery and a restored 1962 Corvette. Pastel and oil paintings done by one of the current owners...Read more
Finishing Touches Added as Hotel Shangrila Continues to Restore this ...PR Web (press release), April 29th
Authentic American pottery from such makers as Roseville and Weller graces shelves. Punctuating the moderne lines of suites are a statuette by Frankart, a centerpiece by Kensington, and compotes by Farber Brothers with ruby red, amber, and cobalt blue...Read more
Trolley's new owner aims to give shopping mall a new lifeSalt Lake Tribune, April 22nd
A $60 million renovation that began in 2007; long-term leases for marquee businesses such as Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma; and the 2011 opening of a gleaming Whole Foods store have breathed much-needed life into the center. But if Semnani is to...Read more
Antique Estates AuctionEcommWire (press release), April 18th
Pottery, Glass & China: Ruskin 12 ½” William Howson Taylor Art Pottery Vase on Three Legged Stand Dated 1926 - High Temp, 12” Diameter, 13 ½ High Art Pottery Aurelian Signed Hand Decorated Art Nouveau c. 1900 Weller Bowl, Nippon Hand Painted...Read more