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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

1910 Metal

1910 Metal

A detailed tribute to the lesser-known artistic metalwork craftsmen of the Arts and Crafts movement. In addition t… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Antique Unmarked Weller American Art Pottery Jardiniere Planter, 3 LeavesAntique Weller American Art Pottery Malverne Strawberry Planter Jardiniere VaseWeller Woodcraft Candelabra CandleWeller Coppertone Double Frog Vase (ca 1920’s)Weller Pottery Bird & Egg Nest Candle Holder 1920s Woodland?Weller Art Pottery Woodcraft Baldwin Apple Double Vase With Trellis Weller Art Pottery Beautiful Brighton 11" Tropical Bird Figurine Fancy Base Outstanding Weller Art Pottery Silvertone Console Bowl With Flower Frog SetVintage Hard-to-find Genuine Weller Pottery Brighton Large Swan Flower FrogWeller Pottery Silvertone Pastel Floral Vase Gorgeous Color Marked No. 13 Original Antique Weller Coppertone 2 1/4" Frog 1920s Good ConditionWeller - Woodcraft Owl Hanging Basket - 10" - FabulousWeller Pottery Ruffled Top Burnt Orange To Green Matt Finish Signed Vase - Nice!Weller Coppertone 11" Two Handle Vase Artist Incised Signature Urn Shape Weller Apple Tree Pattern Wall PocketAntique Weller Aurelian Pottery Pansy Design Ewer Weller Pottery Bronzeware Large Factory Lamp Vase 15 1/2" RareEarly Antique Weller Pottery 10¾" Ribbed Mixing Bowl Hand Written Provenance YqzWeller Louwelsa Jug Corn Decoration Excellent!!! NrWeller Pottery Single Candle Holder 1920s Silvertone W FlowersVintage Weller Pottery Apple Tree Bud Vase Woodcraft Line 1920s (t7)Beautiful Weller Pottery Louwelsa EwerWeller Louwelsa Pottery Pitcher Vase Tankard Similar To Rookwood StyleWeller Art Pottery Woodland Planter Tree Trunk Weller Forest Woodland 8" Vase Art Pottery Large Weller Silvertone 12" Forest & Grapes In Relief Handled Basket No IsssuesWeller Pottery Ollas Water Bottle With Lid - Tan And Red Gourd Beautiful!Fantastic C. Large 1900 Weller "louwelsa" Vase With Raspberries Artist SignedWeller Louwelsa Pottery 8.75" Candlestick - Similar To Rookwood StyleBeautiful Weller Pottery Flemish Rose Basket Vintage Weller Pottery Basket Bark Leaves And Flowers Twisted Bark HandleVintage Weller Green Blue Pottery VaseEarly Weller Pottery Handled Vase With Tree Design High Gloss Finish Die MarkWeller Pottery Woodcraft Apple Tree Bud Vase 10 1/8" Vintage Weller Vase - Duck Egg Green With Pink Dogwood FlowersLarge Vintage Weller Art Pottery Matte Peach Dogwood Flower 11 1/4 Inch VaseWeller Bonito Vase -beautiful Floral Decoration -scarce Large SizeWeller Pottery Vase 3 Footed With Scallops On Sides Wild Rose Dogwoo Peach ColorWeller Art Pottery Cameo 9.5" Tall Double Handle Vase Blue Cream Roses VintageAntique Genuine Weller Pottery Casserole Serving Dish & Lid Light Turquoise BlueVtg Weller Rose Matte Pottery VaseAntique Weller Pottery Flower Bowl Pot