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News Article
It was the ‘art’ in the art pottery that attracted top bids
By Susan Emerson Nutter

CINCINNATI — Though the auctions held by Humler & Nolan are known for the excellent examples Rookwood they offer, one of the top lots at the Rookwood XXIX auction held June 1-2 came from another Ohio pottery. In all fairness, this was one eye-catching, monumental piece of pottery.

A Weller Hudson scenic vase painted by Hester Pillsbury and decorated with a large sailing vessel at full sail with another sailing ship, as well, commanded $17,000 against an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. Standing an impressive 27½ inches high, the vase’s decoration also included a small island with a lighthouse and more than three dozen seagulls in flight.

This vase is well known by advanced collectors. It is pictured in the Carrigan and Wunsch tome, Weller Pottery The Rare, The Unusual, The Seldom Seen. Being hand-thrown, the vase was signed by the artist near the bottom, and also sported a half kiln Weller Pottery ink stamp and the impressed number “31.”

“Interestingly, the person who bought this vase was not a Weller collector,” Riley Humler, Auction Director and Art Pottery expert noted. “He just loved it, and bid until he owned it. This has always been a highly desirable piece,” Humler added stating 15 to 20 years ago, the vase’s owner was offered $25,000 and turned it down. “The collector who bought the Weller vase is a great art enthusiast, and it appealed to him on this level, as well.”

A circa 1924 UND high glaze vase by Mrs. Fred Boese featured a deeply incised stylized flower or tree with three of these encircling the 10 ½ inch high vase which also had the circular UND ink stamp logo and the incised last name of the artist. Humler & Nolan noted a similar piece by UND artist Freida Hammers exists, and that Hammers and Boese both worked at UND in the early to mid 1920s. Hammer stayed with UND while Boese graduated in 1925. It sold for $6,000.

Selling within estimate bringing $5,500 was a gorgeously decorated Daum Nancy Blow-Out vase featuring a natural stand of mature trees in ultra high relief. The foliage of the trees, as well as trees in the distance, were finished via cameo. The glass of the vase was purplish-black in color lending to the look of the woodland being silhouetted by a sky illuminated by moonlight achieved via frost, yellow, and aqua mottling. The vase stood 11¼ inches tall and was 4¼ inches across at the shoulders. It wore the hand-engraved Daum Nancy with the Cross of Lorraine mark beneath the base.

Another vase that utilized the moon, was the Newcomb College carved scenic example with a full moon and Washingtonia palms; the artistic work of Anna Frances Simpson in 1917. The hand-thrown vase in a semi-matte glaze wore the monogram of potter Joseph Meyer, as well as the impressed Newcomb College logo; the date code for 191; and the shape number 181. Standing 6 5/8 inches tall, this vase sold for $4,500.

Of the art glass offered, it was hard to top the Charles Lotton Peacock Feather lamp that sold for $4,200. Created in 1993, the 27 inch tall lamp wore an 18 inch ruffled shade that featured six peacock feathers; each having a silvery gold peacock “eye” surrounded by a cobalt blue border. Each plume was positioned exquisitely and was enhanced with ruby specks best seen when the lamp was lit. Artist signed, the shade sat atop a base also with six plumes that was on a bronze base. Humler & Nolan felt this example might be the best peacock lamp Lotton produced as the decorative elements were so artistically portioned and balanced.

When the Rookwood came up for bids, there seemed to be a preference for plaques this year. Or maybe it was just that those offered were special; especially the gem by artist, Sara Sax. Finding a new owner to the tune of $23,000 was the Rookwood scenic vellum plaque depicting a late fall countryside at dusk. Done in 1914, Sax created a meandering creek flowing through hills with tall trees all back-lit by a lush orange sky. Measuring 9 ¼ inches by 14 ¼ inches, the plaque wore the Rookwood symbol, the date, and an incised V on the back. Sara Sax’s signature graced the front at lower left.

“Again, what drove this piece was the fact that several collectors were bidding,” Humler said. “We had at least four or five phone bidders as well. This plaque was a desirable, unusual piece and the bidding reflected this.”

Another impressive Vellum glaze scenic plaque; this being painted by Edward Diers in 1935 sold within estimate bringing $16,000. Entitled “Venetian Scene” the image was of a religious shrine on an inlet port at dawn indicated by the pink tinted clouds hanging in the sky. Diers monogram was at lower left of the 14 inch by 16 inch plaque.

“This plaque was actually purchased by the same collector who bought the Hester Pillsbury Weller vase,” Humler explained. “The buyer again was attracted to it based on his interest in art, though he is also a Rookwood collector. The plaque was drop-dead gorgeous.”

Numerous lovely Rookwood vases were also up for grabs with a Sara Sax examples again leading this genre. A 13 1/8 inch tall Rookwood French Red vase with stylized cherry blossoms incised and painted by Sara Sax in 1912 sold for $12,500. The decorative flowers on the vase were done in French Red with orange centers. The green leaves and black stems of the flower made the decoration pop. Know all the leaves, flowers and stems were first incised and then painted in glossy enamel with all being featured on a dark green matte finish background.

Though the items mentioned here are the highlights of the Rookwood XXIX event, Humler siad, “It is a good time to buy in this area. Prices are generally soft on a great deal of beautiful art pottery and art glass. The pieces are wonderful and affordable. It is a perfect time to collect in this area.”

The next opportunity to do just that at Humler & Nolan will be Nov. 2-3, when the company will again offer art pottery and art glass for sale at auction.

Contact: (513) 381-2041

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