Roseville Pottery: Identification and Early Evolution
by Aime Joseph
Note: This article is intended to provide general information only. We do NOT offer advice or appraisals on Roseville pottery.
Signatures and Numbers
Early Roseville/Rozaneware pottery often had simple initials on the bottom. It is generally agreed that from inception until the mid-teens the inscriptions of fourteen Zanesville factory artists can be found. If it weren't for these marks, some of these hand painted glossy finished pieces could easily be mistaken for those of their competitors, Rookwood and Weller.
The Zanesville factory also used ink "Rv" stamp on the bottom of some stoneware lines such as Venetian and their children's line, "Juvenile". During this early period, paper labels were also used for identification. In 1931, with the launch of Roseville's mid-period "Pinecone", the familiar cursive imprinted "Roseville" signature, later to be replaced by "Roseville U.S.A" became the standard marking on all standard lines hereafter.
What Do Those Numbers Mean?
On the bottom of most mid and late period Roseville pieces, there are three or four digit numbers then a dash followed by a one or two digit number. The first part of the number identifies the style or design of the piece and the following number specifies the size. For example, a piece marked '445-12' would mean that it was twelve-inch Jardiniere. The '445' signifies that it is in jardiniere category and the '12' would represent height of the piece.
Number Categories for identifying a style or piece of Roseville are as follows:
100's and 200's-Cornucopia or Double Bud Vases
Evolution of Design
Mid-period: Floral and BeyondIn the thirties, while the floral and nature lines flourished, Roseville was simultaneously continuing their glossy geometric and matte stoneware designs. By the mid-thirties, these styles were discontinued (revamped in the late period), giving way to what was becoming their matte floral trademark look.
The 1930 Poppy and 1931 Pinecone lines were the first to be considered the classic "Roseville look". For the next twenty five years, Roseville pottery could be easily identified by its pastel or muted earth tones colors, molded floral or leaf patterns and cursive "Roseville" signature followed by identification numbers. These mid-period lines also gave a light, airy, transparent look, making these middle line pieces drastically different than the angular, detail oriented and bolder colored early period designs.
It is argued whether or not Dogwood 1918 or Dahlrose 1924 should be considered the first designs to segue from the early period into the floral lines. Since both Dogwood and Dahlrose pieces still had quite a bit of hand painting and details cast by hand -- and were not made with the molds of the later floral lines -- Dogwood still better fits into the dynamics of the early period Roseville lines. These two lines did not have signatures or number identifications, which were hallmarks of all middle line nature pieces.
Alternative Middle Period Lines:
With the growing popularity of these middle period lines and moderate prices, Roseville began to grow increasingly popular. Roseville advertisements appeared in magazines such as "American Home" and "Better Homes and Gardens". The pottery was sold in mid-range department stores across America. Many smaller boutiques and gift shops also featured Roseville. In general terms, Roseville pottery was to the 1930s and 1940s as what Pottery Barn or Mikasa is to present times.
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