Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life is a Bowl of Cherries!

Ah, life is a bowl of cherries...or as Mary Engelbreit saw it...a chair of bowlies...did you know that the original song "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" was written in 1931 (music by Ray Henderson and lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown)and was revived in 1953 by Jaye P. Morgan. But, the Depression Era lyrics play well in today's economy also...

Life is just a bowl of cherries
Don't take it serious,
Life's too mysterious
You work,
You save,
You worry so
But you can't take your dough
When you go, go, go...

Well, I use my dough when I buy for my shop, and ever since I opened it, I have always had a good selection of bowls. At auction, if a bowl went up, so did my hand. I have no idea why I developed this obsession…it is not as if I had been raised in a home where bowls were constantly in use. Sure, my Mother cooked, but she had a Pyrex bowl (nothing against Pyrex, and they also grace the shelves in my shop); however, once I had my antique shop, I fell in love with pottery…and, in particular, yellow ware and stoneware bowls.

This is a 17" yellow ware bowl that I just purchased, and I was lucky enough to snap a picture before it sold! It barely had time to settle in on the shelf!

There is something solid about them…not to mention the hundred years of food that filled their cavities. And, there is something about winter, especially in the colder climates, that brings the heavy pottery bowl into the picture…whether it is holding dough as it rises for bread or apples that have been collected from the root cellar…it has a sense of hearth and home.

Even in a modern chrome kitchen, an 1800s yellow ware or stoneware bowl can provide a provenance that is not gained by a sterile new piece of pottery. Sure, these bowls are still being produced. Here is a Robinson Ransbottom bowl…they are in Roseville, Ohio, having opened in 1900, and, amazingly, they are still in existence.

Clay City Pottery is another modern pottery company that has been in existence since 1885. Here is a Clay City Bowl.
Beryl Griffith, an English-Welsh potter, created “Griffith’s Pottery,” and, when her son took over, he changed the name to Clay City Pottery in 1912. The Pottery is still in the family with the fourth generation now in charge. The great-grandaughter, Cheryl, runs the company, and still uses the designs that Beryl created. The colors have been modernized, but many of the processes are still the same.

The Robinson Ransbottom Pottery was founded by Frank Ransbottom and has been in operation since 1900. Frank had close ties with the world famous art potteries of this era, and his brothers Ed and Mort held important positions at Roseville Pottery. During the late 1890's, Frank Ransbottom had become one of the area's best known and most successful jobbers of the stoneware and earthenware products. Frank and three of his brothers - Ed, Johnie and Mort, acquired "Oval Ware and Brick Company" in the fall of 1900. Among the earliest products were jardinieres, cuspidors and red flower pots. The pottery business grew rapidly and established itself as a leading producer of stoneware jars. By 1916, the Ransbottom Pottery had become the world's largest manufacturer of stoneware jars, a position it still holds.

In 1920, the company merged with Robinson Clay Products Company, a manufacturer of tile and brick products. The product lines were expanded to gardenware, a category which includes bird baths, planters, pots, jardinieres, vases, urns and strawberry jars. Much of the American made pottery that you see in garden centers is probably from RRP. Their large crocks have a crown on the them and show up at flea markets quite often being touted as antique.

Although the Ohio potteries are still in business, New Jersey produced the first yellow ware with Pennsylvania following next. Yellow ware was produced from a finer clay and was less dense than stoneware. Redware fell out of favor when it became apparent lead was a by-product (notice what goes around comes around). The earlier varieties did not have the thick “shoulder” (rim). This is a Weller utilitarian bowl…Weller is a New Jersey pottery company who is better known for their art pottery, but I love the yellow of their bowls…very warm.

This is a Red Wing bowl…their bowls have a wide "shoulder" and the vertical ribs.
Red Wing is from Minnesota, and they are still producing stoneware. Here is an example from their web site.
One of my early favorites is McCoy’s “Dandy Line,” which was introduced after WWI.
I remember when Martha Stewart's TV show hit the air, and she had all those wonderful yellow ware bowls on a shelf over her stove...they were McCoy's Dandys!

If you are intrigued by the old bowls, the market is great for buying now...while their prices soared a couple years ago, they have fallen with housing prices! I cannot afford to collect houses...would not want to anyway...can barely keep up with one...but I do love to collect bowls! So, I am easily bowled over by a auction, they know if they need me to pay attention, all they have to say is bowl...but I do believe life is a bowl of cherries...and a chair of bowlies is fine by me also because as the song goes...

Life is just a bowl of cherries
So live and laugh, aha!
Laugh and love
Live and laugh,
Laugh and love,
Live and laugh at it all!


Susan - InHerOwnWords said...

I was thrilled to see your post on pottery from my home town Red Wing, Minnesota. It's very collectible and loved but those lucky enough to have grown up around here. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge on antiques.


Anonymous said...

I was "bowled" over by your post. You found some great treasures at auction.


gail said...

I always look forward to learning something new each week! I love pottery bowls as well. I really like blue ones. I hope you have a great week. Give the squirrels a hugs :) from the auntie Gail.

Roxie Morrow said...

Very cute piece Susan. I couldn't help myself, when I read it, I still said Bowl full of Cherries instead of the other way around. Our eyes do funny things.

Brown Bee Studio said...

Oh Susan, my Momma had a Clay City bowl just like the cream one you pictured! I'd love to have it...I just hope it's still in her house. I plan to visit in the summer to retrieve some things. I never knew it was a Clay City piece. I just remember helping her make bread and using it to proof the dough. Thanks for yet another wonderful trip down memory lane!
xoxo, Andie
Brown Bee Studio

Patricia said...

Loved the post - almost as much as I love pottery. One of my prized possessions is a big yelloware bowl that I use to make bread. It should probably live on a shelf, but I always use the things I have!

I love that song, my Grandmother used to sing it all the time. Then it was one of the numbers in Fosse and was stupendous (loved that show).

Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings

Lilli Blue said...

If iived near you Susan you would get every spare dime I have!I still have dreams about that pink vase. I have some old white glass mix master bowls I use all the time.I also have a large Botonical Gardens bowl I used for salad tonight. This was so enjoyable. Lilli

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the post about pottery bowls. I don't think I have any pottery bowls at home. But I appreciate reading all about it! Have a great week!

Pei Li

Pam said...

Gorgeous! A lot of my favorite scenes from period shows and movies involve kitchen scenes with gorgeous bowls:).

Not too far from Red Wing myself. Beautiful photos.


Shabby Shan said...

Hi Susan!
Thank you for another informative post. I always learn so much when I visit your blog!


Susie said...

Hi Susan! I am also a fan of yelloware bowls of long ago. I can remember my sweet Babci (Grandmother in Polish) making her homemade bread in them and teaching me. It is in that same type of bowl that I carry on her tradidtion. Thanks for the memories.
The Polka Dot Rose

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Susan I just love that Clay City bowl. It's so simple and so pretty! I just looked on your sidebar and saw the Miss Harriet. Such a sweetie!
Thanks for the great lesson and the fun song. I love it.
bunny kisses,

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Hi Susan,

Love the bowls! Every time I find a pretty one I end up chipping or breaking it. I am so clumsy. Just an excuse to buy a new one I guess. LOL

Unknown said...

Hi Susan!

Another great post!And how did you know I just love cherries? lol Especially on banana splits. ;-)
Love the bowls. You always have great things to share. I can easily see myself spending all my money if I lived near

Thanks for sharing! and have a great day!
Janet's Creative Pillows

Eileen & Karen said...

Love, love, love you bowl collection! Especially the Yellow Wear!

Tutti Chic said...

Look at all these gorgeous bowls!!! Great post! :) chris

Just a bed of roses said...

this article on bowls slipped right past me, i picked some up at an estate sale this fall, i may shoot you over a picture and let you help me name and price it. but they are in the shop, so next time i go i will snap a picture. cute story you being a bowl aholic!

Anonymous said...

please help!....I have a yellow bowl aprox. 12" with bottom inscription:

301 USA

Can someone give me some info on this company prior to the merger of 1924? Does it have reasonable value?

Thank you - Rachel

Anonymous said...

Do you know the color of the Clay City bowl you have pictured? They have white ones on their website that look like that cream color and also a mustard color but they look darker than your picture....I want to make sure I order the right color. Thanks