by Aime Joseph
Note: This article is intended to provide general information only. We do NOT offer advice or appraisals on Roseville pottery.
In 1892 George F. Young founded The Roseville Pottery Company in Zanesville, Ohio. Young and other pottery manufacturers saw Zanesville as ideal because of the rich clay deposits in the area. The first pieces of Roseville pottery were made in 1900 under the name "Rozane" or "Rozane Ware". These early pieces hardly resemble the image most modern-day collectors associate with the "classic Roseville" look. Rozane Ware had highly glossed browns and blues, with hand painted animals, Indians, nature scenes and portraits. These early pieces looked more like the line of Roseville's competitor, Rookwood, than the middle period matte and floral Roseville patterns.
Rosevilles's Rozane Ware line was produced into the early 1920s. In the late teens and into the early 1920s, Rozane Ware started a new line called Rosecraft. The patterns in this line included Black, Colors, Vintage, Blended and the extremely sought after Hexagon. Rosecraft is said to be the precursor of the distinctive style of the Roseville line.
Early Rozane Ware and Rosecraft lines are often difficult to recognize. Unlike the more common mid-period lines like Ixia, Thorn Apple, Luffa, Moss, Magnolia, Peony, Cosmos, White Rose, Fuschia, Columbine, Iris, Bleeding Heart, Poppy, Clemana, Freesia, Water Lily, Zephyr Lily, Bushberry, Clematis, Snowberry, Apple Blossom, Gardenia and even the earlier Pinecone, Rozane Ware did not have the floral designs, matte finishes and deco/modern shaped pieces like most of the mentioned Roseville lines. Most of this early period pottery had often had the mark of 'RV'. Though some of the Rozane Ware line bore a metallic paper seal that said "Rozane Ware", these labels are rarely still intact.
During the 1910s, several lines were created and named after the designing artists. These styles include Donatello, Azurene, Fujiama and Pauleo. Though these pieces fall under the Rozane Ware or early period, today's collectors often refer to them as Roseville.
At the end of the teens, Frank Ferrell became the art director and developed multi-colored Roseville pieces with embossed or molded designs. In 1926, George Young's son Russell T. Young took over the company and with his impeccable sense of style and refined taste, he gave birth to what is known as Roseville pottery or middle period Roseville. Among these patterns, the 1931 Sienna or blue Pinecone were the first series to have the Roseville signature impressed or in relief on the bottom of each piece, though many of these pieces also had a metallic "Roseville" seal as well.
One of the first Roseville lines designed by Frank Ferrell and arguably most notable is Futura. This 1928 line is asymmetrical, stark, and one of the most sought-after Roseville lines. Futura is a fine example of the junior Young's tastes. "The Futura line combines the best of both the molders effort and the chemists technology", states Sharon and Bob Huxford, writers of The Collectors Encyclopedia of Roseville Pottery. Deco collectors, Roseville collectors, Modernism enthusiasts, and designers and historians are all in competition to purchase the finite supply of the few remaining unmarked Futura pieces. With names such as Balloon vase, Bubble vase, Telescope vase, Spaceship vase, Star vase, Falling Bullet and Bomb, it is clear that the Futura line reflected the grandeur of society less than a year before Black Friday.
Early Period Pieces and Their Lines
Early Roseville (referred to as Rosezane Ware or Rozane China Line or Rosecraft) 1900-1926
As with anything Roseville pottery prices can vary drastically. For example, I saw a Futura 9" Telescope Vase at The Helms Antique guild in Los Angeles priced at $795.00, which at the time I thought was high. A week later the same size and style vase sold for $1000.00 on eBay TM. In late 1999, I almost purchased this identical vase at the Rose Bowl swap Meet in Pasadena for $475.00.
Most mint condition pieces of RozaneWare and Rosecraft can fetch thousands of dollars. Scarcity, size and design, and age are determining pricing factors. The value of a piece increases if it bears the signature or initials of the artist.
My first suggestion is pricing or trying to sell your Roseville piece is NOT to go by book prices! If you are looking to get top dollar for your piece, consider putting your piece up for auction at eBay TM, the Pottery Auction, or similar auction site. Consigning a piece in an antique mall located in a metropolitan city may seem like a good idea, but often antique malls charge a monthly fee for shelf space AND take a 5 to 15% commission of all items sold. However, it requires no effort on your part, so if you're looking for a convenient way to sell, consigning your piece may be the best for you. Also, you may want to check the antique trade magazines, such as West Coast Peddler. There are often ads for dealers looking to buy anything made by Roseville.
If you are looking to buy a specific piece, check with honest and knowledgeable Roseville collectors (see the websites below). If they do not have the piece that you are looking for, dealers will often suggest where you may find it. Feel free to e-mail me with the pattern piece and your price range and I would happy to suggest Roseville dealers.
Ohio Ceramic Center and Museum - A wonderful museum that has sample of all period Roseville, Rookwood, Shawnee and Weller pottery.
Roseville At Shirlee's's Victorian House - An informative Roseville dealer with fair prices.
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