Rookwood Pottery

Arts and Crafts pottery became big business in America after inspiration from the European wares on show at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876 and Rookwood Potteries was where the finest examples of ‘Art Pottery’ were produced.

Rookwood was established in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1880 and from the very beginning focused on making high quality art pottery by employing the best designers and potters available. Artists such as Matt Daly, Grace Young and the Japanese ceramicist Kataro Shirayamadani worked for Rookwood as did Laura Fry who developed and patented the now famous ‘Standard’ clear glossy glaze and William P. McDonald and Matthew A. Daly who painted the highly collectable American Indian portraits.

It was the designs and quality of the decoration that secured Rookwood’s reputation of brilliance ahead of other American potteries such as Roseville, Weller and Lonhuda who were producing simple wares. Rookwood designs were largely inspired by the natural world, flowers in particular, although portraits were also used as decoration mainly the aforementioned Native Indians and the Old Masters. Rookwood was known for their subtly of tone, richness of colour and exquisite painting and these are all reasons why they are so highly desirable today. ‘Standard Brown’ ware was the first major line to come out of the pottery but huge success hit in 1894 with the release of Ariel Blue, Iris and Sea Green.

Most Rookwood pottery is signed by the artist with a date and shape number. From 1886 a RP flame mark monogram was used and each year from 1887 a flame was added to this monogram until by 1900 it had fourteen. Roman numerals were used from 1901.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Mdina Glass

Mdina glass, as the name suggests, was produced in Mdina, Malta originally by Michael Harris who was previously a glass tutor at the Royal College of Art. He founded Mdina Glass in 1968 alongside Eric Dobson, a former colleague, where it continues to thrive. Harris actually left Malta in 1972 and set up another studio on the Isle of Wight while Dobson remained and took charge of the factory.

A Mdina Glass Vase
A Mdina Glass Vase

Within a few years Mdina glass was exporting to Italy and America and exhibiting at international trade fairs. However, much of it was produced for sale to the tourist market and this was equally as successful.

They made an array of items including vases, bowls and particularly popular, perfume bottles. They were made of heavy, thick glass and generally have a signature or sticker on the base. Mdina glass is instantly recognizable due to the limited number of colours that were used; colours synonymous with the sea and beaches. They used turquoise, tan, aqua alongside other blues and greens. Orange, pink and white colours were introduced at a later date and do not hold the appeal to collectors as the original colours.

The majority of early Mdina pieces collected today are the smaller items as these were more popular with tourists. Larger pieces are rarer and thus more expensive. Early examples from the ‘60s and ‘70s are more sought after as are designs signed by Michael Harris himself.

Joseph Said, a promising apprentice of Harris’ progressed quickly after his departure and took over as owner in 1985 when Dobson also returned to the UK. It is a true family business now as his children are also employed in differing roles within the company.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Wemyss Ware

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse writes….

Wemyss ware was first produced by the Fife pottery in Kirkcaldy, Fife in 1882 and was the invention of Robert Heron, pottery owner and Karel Nekola, an incredibly gifted designer and decorator from Bohemia (Czech Republic). The name comes from the Wemyss family of the Wemyss castle who were very enthusiastic patrons of the new wares.

Wemyss Ware
Wemyss Ware

In 1932, production moved to Bovey Pottery in Devon and under the direction of Joseph Nekola, Karel’s son, they continued to make Wemyss Ware until the pottery’s closure in 1957, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Wemyss took inspiration from the British countryside with very naturalistic designs including flowers, fruits, birds and animals but is probably most famous or recognisable for their cabbage rose designs and their range of cat and pig figures. Although the pottery was successful in its day, popularity has been cemented by collectors, who included the Queen Mother, with rare examples of Wemyss ware realising high prices at auction.

The pigs are a particular favourite of collectors with some being more prized and so more expensive to acquire. The larger pigs, up to 45cm, are very sought after with the green shamrocks and the cabbage rose decorations being the most desirable. The pigs were designed for children’s nurseries in wealthy stately homes being sold exclusively by Thomas Goode in Mayfair. A whole range were produced; some had slots for money, some were personalised with dates and names, some were very small paperweight-sized and of course some much larger. The bright, bold and colourful designs stood out against a stark white background making these enchanting pigs very appealing to the eye.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website