Thursday, December 13, 2007
Daryle Lambert: Don't Walk on Those Tiles. Especially If They're Grueby.
How often have you seen a tile and thought, I don't need to look at that? In your haste to look at something more interesting, you may have just passed a real treasure. Most of the better potteries made tiles to hang on the wall or place around the fireplace. The complex quality these tiles have make them of great value in the market place.
Grueby started in the tile manufacturing business in 1894 when William Grueby began to make tile under the name of Grueby Faience Company. These tiles were enameled architectural faience pieces, and they immediately became popular. They came in many forms, with carved mermaids, ships and flowers being some of the favorite subjects chosen by the artist. Some of these tiles may well bring $10,000 plus in today's market. I have been fortunate enough to find several of the Grueby tiles in the past, but nothing that was very special or rare. For the most part, I have had the little cupid tile, but even these they may bring $500 each. That isn't bad if they were purchased for $5.00.
The closest I have ever been to making a killing in tile was when I attended the Music City Show in Nashville. Cecil and I decide to run an ad in the local paper, and we got a call of interest to us, so off we went. What a disappointment this visit was until I eyed the fireplace. My eyes almost popped out of my head. There before me was a fireplace completely made of Grueby tile, and some pieces I hadn't ever seen before.
I began to ask questions very cautiously so not to give my hand away. After some time, I knew that no one had ever approached them about buying the whole fireplace, so I ask them if it was for sale. Their answer was "at the right price."
What a predicament I was in, wanting to be fair but not scaring them at the same time. I finally said I would pay them $25,000 for it and waited patiently for their answer. “What will we do with that large hole in our living room wall?” the woman asked me. I scratched my head and did some calculating, finally offering to fix it if it wouldn't cost more than $5,000. There, for a minute, I thought that it was mine. But it wasn't to be. They said I would hear from them, but it never happened. To this day, I don't really know what the value of all the tile would have been, but when I put the total to them, it could have possibly come to over $100,000. You see there were over two hundred tiles and half were the very decorative ones.
Most of you might have been aware of the Grueby pottery in the form of vases and bowls, but how any of you knew that there was gold in them thar tiles? Often you will find tiles lying in groups, and most people just pass them by. I'm sure you won't pass them by from now on. I have lost the name of their company but if you want to know anything about tile call Wendy and Sandy at 978-649-4983. There are also many wonderful books on Art Tiles that you can search out as well.
I was going to include Rookwood tile in this blog, but I think I will keep that for tomorrow.
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