Pottery began with the 1892 acquisition of the J. B. Owens company,
which had been founded in 1885 in Roseville, Ohio, by a group
of Ohio businessmen including George Young, C. F. Allison, and
several others. As the popularity of its original lines of stoneware
began to grow, Roseville Pottery needed to expand, and they did
so with the 1892 and 1898 purchases of the Linden Avenue Plant
of the Clark Stoneware Co. and the Midland Pottery respectively.
Operations slowly started to shift to Zanesville, Ohio, the town
where the Linden Ave. Plant was located and the site of subsequent
factory acquisitions. This region of Ohio had become a center
of ceramics production due to the rich local clays. By about 1910,
all of the work had shifted to Zanesville and operations in Roseville
ceased. Nevertheless, Roseville Pottery had not yet begun to make
the finer art pottery for which they are known today. George Young
is said to have made the decision to create art pottery and hired
Ross C. Purdy as the artistic designer. The first result was the
Roseville Rozane line, combining the words Roseville and Zanesville.
Rozane was type of brown underglaze pottery that was already popular
at the time, but Roseville gave it new variations. Early work
in the Rozane line frequently featured very fine hand painting
by quality artists and evoking floral themes like Rookwood
but also people and cultures like the "Dutch" series.
Soon, new artists were being hired such
as Gazo "Fudgi" Fujiyama who created the orientally inspired Woodland,
or Fujiyama, line as well as Rozane Fudji, and John Herold who created
the Rozane Mongol line. Many Roseville lines were a response to the innovations
of Weller Pottery,
and in 1904 Frederick Rhead was hired away from Weller as artistic director
and created the Olympic and Della Robbia lines. During these times, Roseville
made quality art pottery but was viewed as more of a mid tier line, reproducing
the techniques of others for a wider market.
However, it was Frank Ferrel, who served
as Roseville artistic director from 1917 until 1954, who created many of
the most popular and memorable lines including Pine Cone, and in 1918 at
the end of World War I the "Roseville U.S.A." mark was first used. The
Pine Cone line alone had over 70 individual pieces to collect, and colors
included the most common green as well as lesser seen brown and blue. Floral
lines were diverse and always popular, including Dogwood, Iris, Sunflower,
Wisteria, Peony, Apple Blossom, Clematis, Bleeding Heart, Blackberry, and
many more. Also, Roseville produced a fascinating variety of pieces including
bowls, vases, wall pockets, jardinieres and stands, candlesticks, ewers,
bookends, and more!
During these years, Roseville Pottery lines
were still sold at prices affordable to the middle class, but now they
were innovating rather than following others. It is interesting to note
that successive generations of George Young's family were the only original
founders to maintain direct involvement in the operations. It was in 1954
that Roseville Pottery was sold to first New England Ceramics and subsequently
to Franklin Potteries, but Roseville operations were soon halted.
There are many Roseville
reproductions on the market, so when buying you need to take
care. The glaze on many reproductions is dull and less defining
of features than period authentic wares, and shapes and sizes
usually vary from the originals. Marks are certainly no guarantee
of authenticity, but market sources say many reproductions are
only marked Roseville on the bottom and don't have the typical
addition of USA. Perhaps this is a way that the dishonest try
to fool collectors into nuances of law, but that doesn't work
either because Roseville Pottery did use the Roseville mark
without the associated USA from approximately 1931 until 1937.
However, no mark should give you an assurance of authenticity
with Roseville, so look very closely at the detail and quality
and seek out reputable dealers who know the difference.
Ever been fooled by
a fake or a seller that didn't deliver the goods as described?
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