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Pottery party for collectors features Roseville works

Wisconsin State Journal - August 22, 1999

By John Aehl
Wisconsin State Journal

Archaeologists tell us that pottery was being made by primitive man as far back as about 11,000 B.C.

The Wisconsin Pottery Association's exhibit and sale of art pottery at Madison Marriott West on Saturday will not go back that far; it will concentrate on objects made in the last century or so.

This fourth annual show will have thousands of large and small pieces, displayed by more than 75 dealers from across the nation. The collection and sale of decorative or art pottery have become increasingly popular.

The show has highlighted a specific manufacturer each year; this time it will be Roseville pottery, well-known to collectors.

More than 400 examples of Roseville pottery will be on display, representing about 40 of the best lines produced during the company's 63year history, according to Chris Swart, of the Wisconsin Pottery Association.

"You may see a few pieces of Roseville pottery in antique malls, and a few more at most pottery shows, but this is an opportunity to see the entire range of Roseville's production in one place," Swart said.

The Roseville Pottery began producing utilitarian earthenware in Roseville, Ohio, in 1890. By 1900 the company had begun to produce art pottery in nearby ZanesvilIe, starting with a "Rozane" line. An English potter, Frederick Rhead, directed the early production.

By 1910 the company had located its entire operation in Zanesville. Frank Ferrell, a Zanesville artist, became Roseville's art director in 1918 and created the pottery that is most familiar to collectors today. Ferrell designed about 90 lines of art pottery until the plant closed in 1953.

One of the special displays at the Saturday exhibit will be Roseville experimental vases.

"Genuine Roseville experimentals differ in several ways from ordinary production pottery," Swart said. 'Almost all of the so-called Roseville experimentals for sale at antique malls or on the Internet are imposters.

"Genuine Rosevilles have hand sculpted raised patterns, rather than patterns produced from a mold. Most Rosevilles were done on four basic shapes, many had notes and information etched on the blank side. As such they were either one of a kind or very limited in number."

Well-represented in the exhibit will be the company's best-selling line, the "Pine Cone," introduced in the early 1930s, with rich blue, golden brown and soft green glazes.

Two authors of books about Roseville pottery will be at the show. Nancy Bomm and Mark Bassett will be available for conversations about the pottery line.

The Wisconsin Pottery Association was formed in 1992 by Madison area collectors. Its goals are to promote interest in antique and collectible pottery and to provide information about the pottery.

In previous years the association has featured the work of the Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison, in business from 1940 to 1956; a collection of Susan Frackelton pottery from the Wisconsin State Historical Society; and Haeger Potteries, a Dundee, Ill., firm.

The association show will be held concurrently with a three-day convention of the Ceramic Arts Studio Collectors Association.

The Ceramic Arts Studio was located at the corner of Blount Street and East Washington Avenue. At its peak it produced some 250,000 ceramic figurines annually.