Do you know Ohr and Overbeck?

Collector interest for early American Art pottery continues, though auction prices are for the most part under estimate. Good pieces still come to market so it is a good time to buy. As in all collecting categories it is wise to know what is a bargain and what isn’t. It is important to recognize the many types of glazes, techniques and forms, as well as important artisans.

Would you know a piece of Mission ware or an atypical example by “the mad potter” George Ohr? In the case of Ohr pottery, most familiar are his grotesque head vases. Less familiar forms can be worth more than $2,000 but may go by unrecognized. While just about every collector is familiar with Rookwood, Roseville and Grueby pottery, how about Overbeck?

Art Pottery Information
The art of contemporary american pottery
The Art of Contemporary American Pottery
By Kevin A. Hluch
Retail: $34.95   
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Functional pottery brings beauty to everyday life in this thought-provoking book that explores the philosophical, historical and aesthetic considerations of contemporary American pottery as art. Includes a list of galleries where artists exhibit their work.

pottery & porcelain ceramics price guide
Antique Trader® Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide, 6th Edition
By Kyle Husfloen   
Price: $25.99

Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain¬ Ceramics Price Guide covers, in detail, all the major collecting categories of American, English, European and Asian ceramics from the 18th century through the late 20th century. More than 10,200 individual listings are highlighted by over 4,300 full color photos.

CLUES: When it comes to form most collectors think of Teco pottery. It was first introduced in 1902 by William Gates. The name came from “te” in terra and “co” in cotta. His vases in large sizes, and architectural form, green glaze can command $30,000 these days.

Mission ware that suggests Southwestern skys and deserts was actually created in Arkansas in 1910, using naturally colored clays. The result was a marbleized look. The pottery works were named “Niloak,” which backwards spells kaolin. Kaolin was used for centuries in the Orient to make porcelain.

Newcomb Pottery was made in New Orleans from 1899 to 1945. Early pieces can be recognized by incised designs. The glaze was transparent and glossy metallic luster glazes turn up in Weller pottery created by Jacques Sicard. Prices can be over $2,000. The effect is similar to Tiffany Favrile glass.

However the greatest variety of glazes were created by Rookwood pottery. Every name describes the glaze. For instance, “tiger eye,” created in 1884, uses gold flecks with a brown-orange glaze that suggest the eye of a tiger.

Vellum, a matt glaze with the look of old parchment, took many years to develop. It was introduce in 1904 at the St. Louis Exposition.

There are many art pottery makers that you may never have heard of, but are worth learning about. One example is the Overbeck pottery founded by four sisters in Cambridge, Ind., in 1911. They made both pieces on a wheel and commercial pottery. Their pieces have a stylized monogram mark that resembles a teapot with a face or initials of the designer or potter. When examples come to auction prices can fetch more than $7,000. Research American art pottery in the many books on the subject and go hunting.

Anne Gilbert began writing about antiques for the Chicago Daily News. In 1983 she began self syndication of THE ANTIQUE DETECTIVE … offering clues, mixed with interviews with experts. She has authored eight books about antiques. Gilbert is a professional personal property appraiser. She can be contacted vie e-mail at