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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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George Ohr was born in Mississippi in 1857 and grew up during the turmoil of the Civil War and the South's defeat and the reconstruction period that followed. The Ohr family arrived from Europe along with thousands of other immigrants to escape the economic hard times in Europe. His father George Ohr, Sr. set up shop as a blacksmith in Biloxi, Mississippi and his son George, with little formal education, began apprenticing in the shop during childhood and as was common during these times. George Jr. was headstrong and was sometimes at odds with his family, and he soon tired of being a blacksmith. He left home at the age of 14 and began sailing on merchant ships for a time, but he soon gave up and returned to Biloxi. In 1879, Joseph Fortune Meyer, an old family friend and an accomplished potter, gave young George a job in New Orleans working in his studio.

From the start, George Ohr knew that the life of a potter was the ideal he had been seeking. After learning the basics, Ohr embarked on a journey that took him through 16 U. S. states and into Canada, learning all the while about ceramics whenever and wherever he could. After his trip, he once again returned to Biloxi but this time set up his own shop and planned to dig his own high quality clay along the banks of the Tchoutacabouffa River. Ohr took over 600 pieces of his unique, one of a kind pottery to the 1884 World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans. During these times, fairs provided one of the few opportunities for potters to view other potter's work as well as exotic exhibits from other countries. Ohr displayed a broad variety of products including flower pots, stove flues, drain tiles, water jugs, and more, but he also exhibited his first art pottery. However, art pottery was not his focus as he focused on more utilitarian wares during this time to essentially pay the bills. This became even more important after his marriage in 1886 to Josephine Gehring and the subsequent birth of their 10 children. In 1894, a major fire burned Ohr's workshop to the ground, and all his prior work was destroyed.

As opposed to letting the fire and destruction depress him, Ohr saw it as a liberating event that freed him from his past in order to create a new and more artistic, expressionistic future. The result was an explosion of creativity driven by the urgency to recreate a life's work. The heavily manipulated ceramics he produced evoke the free form nature of other non-traditionalists like Frank Gehry's architecture. Ohr ceramics were highly individualized by the man himself; in fact, he ridiculed Rookwood because of how many different people participated in the making of each work.

Largely unknown and uncollected for many years following his death, a New York antiques dealer Jim Carpenter discovered many unknown pieces of Ohr pottery discarded in the auto parts junkyard run by Ohr's two sons in Biloxi. The resulting exposure when he brought the works back to New York City for sale attracted buyers like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, and his fame was thus assured. Ohr's work has become among the most recognizable and appreciated among collectors over the last 30 years, and his ceramics and their market appeal remain of strong interest to collectors today.

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