Saturday, July 23, 2016

"I'm just a lucky slob from Ohio

who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
~Clark Gable

For those who may not know that Clark, a la "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn", echoes some of the sentiment about collecting these days.  Gone are the elaborate price guides, except for Kovels, they are still hanging on, but, the younger generations are not looking to collect every piece of Roseville or every egg beater.  That was Grandma or Mom who wandered the yard sales, flea markets, and shops seeking the elusive piece.  Enter ebay...and there it was, along with a hundred or more of its brothers!  And, the tech savvy kids knew they only had to point and click if they wanted something, but, in that mindset, they still do appreciate a nice piece of pottery, not just 100 pieces of pottery.  And speaking of pottery, I was unwrapping and pricing some pottery that I have had tucked in the far corners.

Interestingly, Ohio was the center of pottery in the United States for many decades.  Zanesville, Ohio, was home to many of the potteries collectors used to buy.  From the Zanesville history...Colonel Ebenezer Zane and his son-in-law John McIntire blazed Zane’s Trace, the original pioneer trail into the old Northwest Territory. Zane, a Revolutionary War veteran, was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to blaze a pathway into the rolling hills and the dense forests of the Ohio Valley, and to establish ferry crossings at three major rivers including the Muskingum.
McIntire and Zane’s brother Jonathan took responsibility for operating the ferry at the Muskingum River and they were the county’s first settlers. A town laid out by McIntire called Westbourne quickly grew out of the settlement and in 1801 it was renamed Zanesville in honor of Colonel Zane.
Zanesville served as the temporary capitol of Ohio from 1810 to 1812. In 1814, the city’s well-known Y-shaped bridge was initially constructed to cross the junction of the two rivers in the center of Zanesville – the Licking and Muskingum. Today, the fifth Y-Bridge still stands at the heart of the community.

Rich natural resources such as sand, clay and iron made Zanesville and Muskingum County ideal for the manufacture of steel, glass and pottery. Ceramic tile and art pottery are an important part of the heritage of the community, as Zanesville became known as the “Pottery Capital of the World” and the “Clay City.”

Although we go after China today for taking manufacturing jobs, these companies except Robinson Ransbottom met their demise after WWII when we occupied Japan and gave them manufacturing rights.
  • Brush-McCoy Pottery
  • Burley Winter Pottery
  • Gonder Pottery
  • Hull Pottery Company
  • Nelson McCoy Pottery
  • Mosaic Tile Co.
  • J.B. Owens Pottery
  • Peters and Reed (Zane Pottery)
  • Radford Pottery
  • Robinson Ransbottom Pottery
  • Roseville Pottery Company
  • Shawnee Pottery
  • Watt Pottery
  • Weller Pottery
  • Zanesville Art Pottery
  • Zanesville Stoneware Company
What one can see reflected in the pottery is an artistic society among those Ohio potters.  This is a piece of Weller from the 1920s.   
Samuel Weller founded his pottery in 1872 operating out a cabin with one kiln.  He produces flower pots, bowls, crocks, and vases.  By 1905 the pottery was the largest in the country, and it produced art pottery until 1920 and commercial lines until 1948.  The flower bowl below complete with original flower frog is from the Woodcraft line produced from 1920-1933.  You can see the intricate design and colors in the piece.
Another popular pottery and one of my favorites is McCoy.  Now, before McCoy was on its own, there was Brush-McCoy.  This is a piece of Brush...simplistic and colorful...they survived from 1925-1982.  (China did probably get them!)

McCoy, which is now dubbed the most collected pottery in the states, existed from 1848 until 1991.  They produced over a hundred different styles, but their pieces from mid-century are most appealing.

Another pottery in that list is Shawnee.  They were in production from 1937-1961.  I find their pottery modern.  This piece is in an intricately designed holder, but the planter itself reflects a modern twist.

So, a look at Ohio (which just survived the RNC), and its history as the center of American pottery.  Too bad Americans decided they wanted planters for $1.00 from China instead of unique quality pieces from American potteries, but thank goodness there are those who still appreciate the workmanship of the past.  Maybe they don't want 100 pieces, but at least there are those who can appreciate 2 or 3 on a shelf.

“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed. Art has remembered the people, because they created”
~ William Morris


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