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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Staying Streamline Moderne at Santa Monica's Classic Art Deco HotelBLOUIN ARTINFO, August 26th
Inside, touches include an original piece by Russian-born French artist Erté adorning the wall of one of the suites, authentic American pottery from famed 19th Century Ohio-founded potteries Roseville and Weller, a statuette from New York's Frankart...Read more
'Antiques Roadshow' Repeats Cincinnati Episode Monday NightWVXU, August 24th
Appraisers evaluate a wood bust of Abraham Lincoln, apparently the first version of the bust now atop a World War II memorial at Ezzard Charles Drive and Cutter Street in the West End a few blocks west of WCET-TV; a 1920s Weller dog lawn ornament; a...Read more
Early 20th-Century Decorative Arts and Some Mid-century ModernMaine Antique Digest, August 17th
The featured lot was a four-part tile panel with a peacock by Frederick H. Rhead, who made it for his friend and Weller Pottery colleague Levi Burgess for his residence in Zanesville, Ohio. It is the mate to a similar panel that Rago had sold in...Read more
Kovels antiques: Staffordshire potteryObserver-Reporter, August 8th
Staffordshire potters in 19th-century England liked to depict humorous people in everyday activities. The figurines were the only way to see what a brave lion tamer or important political figure looked like. There were no photos and few prints...Read more
Cookbook Collection of Famed Washington Post Restaurant Critic Going on the ...Patch.com, August 7th
In addition, Richman's collection of Art Pottery, including works by Weller and Peters Reed, and a selection of commemorative plates from James Beard Foundation dinners, will also be up for auction. The cookbooks, many of which are first editions and ...Read more
Three Days of Unreserved Goods to Auction at Rago's, August 27-29, 2015ArtfixDaily, August 4th
Early 20th c. design pottery by ceramicists George Ohr, Rookwood, Grueby, Saturday Evening Girls, Merrimac, Pewabic, Teco, Van Briggle, North Dakota School of Mines, Fulper; many lots of Ohio pottery including Roseville, and close to 100 lots of Weller ...Read more
COLUMN: Collecting Flower FrogsBelgrade News, July 31st
Art glass and pottery were priced from $30 to $100. More valuable floral frogs came from Weller and Roseville potteries and cost from $75 to $1,600. Glass frogs from Tiffany & Co. may cost as much as $2,000. More detailed information can be found in...Read more
Karen Allen at Home in the BerkshiresNew York Times, July 31st
Vintage American ceramics are another love, a vestige of her 10-year marriage to Kale Browne, an actor who “knew a lot about the Arts and Crafts movement,” she said. “My favorite pieces are by Weller and the North Dakota School of Mines. What I like...Read more