Antique Art Pottery Marks

In the antique pottery collecting world there is a big difference between "collectible antique pottery" and "collectible antique art pottery".  As a new collector I had little idea how different these two seemingly identical phrases were.  As time went on, I not only learned what separates them but also why seasoned collectors so vehemently voiced the distinctions.  Rather than argue the finer points of what experts define as one, or the other, I will attempt to explain what I have come to believe is the uniqueness of the terms in my own words.

Back before the industrial revolution, around the turn of the 20th century, everything was done more simply and often by hand.  A potter hand threw clay on a wheel, fired, glazed and decorated his work.  Sometimes there was more than one potter but their pieces were completed by human hands, in relatively small quantities, and items were "seen through" from beginning to end.  Although the pottery might have had a utilitarian use, they were also produced as an aesthetic pieces or "work of art".  The pottery was signed and the artisan(s) took great pride in his products.  I believe that it is this type of work that should be considered antique art pottery.  This method of creation's heyday was from approximately 1885-1930. (Time roughly correlates to popularity & influence from the Arts and Crafts Movement.)

Our countries industrialization (mass manufacture / assembly line techniques) changed the way that nearly everything was made.  This also included visually pleasing ceramic items.  Pottery was increasingly produced from molds and decorated by unskilled workers.  Companies were churning out thousands of nearly identical pieces and craftsmanship & artistic value took a back seat to bottom lines.  Although these businesses employed artists work on various aspects of pottery creation, they rarely if ever completed a piece from beginning to end.  Most works were just that. A menial job for a consortium, completing repetitive and unskilled duties to earn a paycheck.  Now please understand that I am not trying to put down collectors of regular old antique pottery (I'm a collector of these as well ~ visit my other site to find company marks for those!), I'm just trying to show how different these two phrases really are.

Regardless of the way they were created, both can be unique and beautiful!  Just thought I would share my two cents on one of the finer points of collecting, and attempt to better explain what you will find at this section of my website.

This area of the site is dedicated to antique art pottery marks.  I've attempted to be as descriptive as possible when describing the signatures and marks.  This will invariably help people when searching for phrases in the search box.  Because I have made drawings of the pottery marks, there would be no other way to find an unknown mark, other than browsing every page and eyeballing an exact match, without the descriptive words identifying them.  Forgive me if some of the words listed under the Help Identify Mark heading seem strange, I'm just trying to guess what people might type in order to identify their pieces.  For example, Marble Head Pottery often used a capital M & a P separated by a drawing of an old sailing ship. 


There can be many phrases and terms for a person to try in order to find this mark from a search box.  Maybe they'd type "Old Vase MP Boat Mark"?  If I didn't have some of those words associated with my drawing, they may never find what they are really looking for.  In the past I've been frustrated by trying to find a pottery mark by using Internet searches so, I'm trying to alleviate that issue for others on my site!  I hope you find this markings section helpful.  Please feel free to visit the forum (link above) and let me know what I can improve or do to help! :)

OK, enough rambling...


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