Art Pottery refers to ceramic items in the form of vases, bowls, candlesticks, jardinieres, and umbrella stands made to decorate the home. They are designed as a piece of art, not as a functional vase, and were made as a shelf piece or table centerpiece to be enjoyed. Frequently, the decorative motifs were floral and scenic themes, coming in a variety of forms, glazes, and color tones. Each “line of pottery” was issued for a period of one to 15 years until a new line was designed. The decorative artwork featured women who were skilled china painters, a Victorian skill of the early 1900s. The golden years of Art Pottery were at the turn of the century, and much of the industry was based in the Zanesville, OH area. Strong potteries such as Rookwood, Weller, Roseville, and McCoy dominated the Art Pottery industry. These potteries were famous for their showrooms in New York, Buffalo, Chicago, Philadelphia. Many department and gift stores carried Art Pottery as it was a popular wedding gift in the first half of the 20th century.
Design motifs cover the design eras of the Aesthetic Period, Art Nouveau, Art Deco up through Mid-Century Modern. Sadly, the industry was less important by the late 1940s, due to factories closing and the influx of new materials after WWII.
Most potteries had a short life—some open less than 3 years.
Roseville is probably the most well know moderate-priced pottery. Today, the name Roseville is being used for useful pottery such as mixing bowls and birdbaths. Sadly, it lacks the artistic beauty of earlier years. Rare pieces of early Art Pottery can demand strong prices.