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What Is Roseville Pottery?

Lumara Lee
Lumara Lee

Roseville pottery is antique earthenware that was manufactured by the Roseville Pottery Company between 1892 and 1953. The company took its name from Roseville, the Ohio town where the first factory was located. George Young incorporated the company to produce functional items, so the plant’s initial offerings were useful objects like flower pots, spittoons, umbrella stands, and stoneware for cooking and storing food. Sales were brisk, and after an expansion the company moved to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1898. Its sizable clay deposits made Zanesville a popular location for pottery manufacturers.

Decorative pottery became popular toward the end of the 19th century, so Roseville Pottery expanded its line in the 1890s to include pottery that was artistic as well as utilitarian. Roseville Pottery named its first line of decorative pottery Rozane, a name derived by combining the town names Roseville and Zanesville. Rozane pottery had a high-gloss finish with hand-painted scenes of landscapes, animals, and people, and was available in both light and dark colors. The Rozane line included some strictly ornamental pieces in addition to mugs, candle holders, fruit bowls, vases, and compotes.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

In the early 1900s, Roseville Pottery hired several art directors and issued new lines of decorative pottery. This strategy increased the demand for the company’s wares. Its Rozane Egypto line was a completely new look for the company, with most pieces finished with a matte green glaze. Egypto ware was designed using various styles which included Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and traditional Egyptian. Vases, pitchers, dishes, oil lamps, and baskets were manufactured for the Egypto line.

New lines quickly followed the Egypto ware, with some incorporating designs from different cultures. For example, the Woodland line introduced in 1906 had a distinct oriental influence, and some claim that Japanese women were employed to hand paint the scenes on the pieces for the Fuji line. Della Robbia was another line introduced in 1906 which became extremely popular. The pieces were made completely by hand, without using any molds, and were produced in limited numbers. Della Robbia pieces remain the rarest pieces of Roseville pottery, and the most coveted by collectors today.

Production of Roseville pottery ceased in 1953 when the company was sold. Roseville pottery has become a popular, antique collectible, with the rarest pieces selling for thousands of US dollars. Reproductions are common, and sometimes it is difficult to tell the genuine pieces from the fake. The collector of Rosewood pottery must be cautious, and to ensure authenticity should buy only from a reputable dealer.

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