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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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Sam Weller first started making pottery in Fultonham, Ohio about 1872 for mostly local farmers in the nearby Ohio towns and villages. Quite distinct from the art pottery wares into which he evolved, Sam Weller started out making everyday items such as jars, jugs, tiles, and other pottery used in daily lives. While the styles were still simple, he nevertheless benefited from the rich local clays in the area as did many other top quality makers of art pottery over the next 60 years. Weller moved to the Zanesville, Ohio area about 1889 and, influenced by other potters in the area, he started making art pottery and a broader diversity of styles-- flower pots, hanging baskets, umbrella stands, and much more. Growth came quickly to the talented Mr. Weller, fueling the growth of Weller pottery into a sizeable manufacturing operation of over 200 employees within the next five years. In 1893, Sam Weller traveled to the World Columbian Exposition where he was further exposed to the new work of other art potteries such as Rookwood, Lonhuda, and others. He was also exposed to new Art Nouveau stylings and the associated incorporation of nature themes into art pottery. Weller envisioned making art pottery which could be more mass produced than producers employing only a handful of talented, high paid artists such as the practice at Rookwood. Weller saw some of these characteristics in Lonhuda pottery and bacame acquainted with the founder, William Long. Long and Weller joined forces in Zanesville and began joint production, but the partnership was not to last. Weller nevertheless continued making pottery in the style of Lonhuda, and he renamed his line Louwelsa which was an aggregation of 'lou" (his daughter Louise), "wel" (Weller), and "sa" (Sam's initials). Louwelsa was an immediate market success.

Weller started making portraiture pottery with Indians, animals, and even whimsical themes from children's stories such as those of Charles Dickens. Pottery with scenes from Dickens stories and other people and animal themes became known as Dickensware. Many other lines followed, and most had some degree of market success. During this period, Weller also continuously improved his manufacturing techniques, seeking reasonably high quality detailing in ever less labor intensive production methods. This allowed Weller to sell a high quality product at an affordable price. Weller was influenced by the Art Nouveau movement as well, producing floral themes in the ornate styling of that period, but he also produced other lines for which the name often belies the style: Woodland, Oriental, Hunter, Auroral, etc. One of the best known of the art pottery lines was known as Sicardo, after the style of the French artist Sicard which achieved a unique and lustrous glaze seldom seen at the time. Around the turn of the century, Weller basically reorganized the company around two divisions. One continued to concentrate on more automated production techniques to keep quality high but costs low, while the other indulged ever more into the creation of high end, hand crafted art pottery. Weller was notable for his contributions to the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 where many Ohio potteries burst onto a national stage. He actually set up a working pottery at the fair so visitors could see his workers and production in action. As a marketing promotion, Weller also creeated what he termed the world's largest vase, an Aurelian line piece that towered over 7 feet high.

Like many potteries, Weller was forced to scale back during the years of World War I as the market for art pottery largely dried up. To survive, he concentrated on the mass produced wares and was always seeking cost and labor savings to keep their production affordable to the general population. While he could not afford hand crafted artistry and was working almost exclusively from molds, he nevertheless experimented with new glazes such as "Burnt Wood" (looks just like the name implies), "Graystone" (looks like granite and stone) and "Ting" (looks like teak wood). These new glazes were unique and highly decorative but added little if anything to the cost of production. In this manner, innovation allowed Weller to survive where many others failed. Some Weller pieces were close copies of other lines such as Roseville pine cone, and pieces are often mistaken today from appearance alone. Sam Weller died in 1925, leaving the pottery to his nephew Harry who had been working in the business. Harry died soon thereafter, in 1932, at which point the company was inherited by Sam's two sons-in-law. Weller survived World War II just as he had the first world war, but it was a much smaller company that was able to emerge from the war years. The company continued in operation until 1948.

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Weller Pottery (Schiffer Book for Collectors) Weller, Roseville, and Related Zanesville Art Pottery and Tiles
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