Friday, August 15, 2008

Secrets to Identifying Value in Art Pottery

Louise E. Edwards Decorated Doulton Lambeth Vase offered at 31 Gallery & Marketplace

Many people mistakenly believe that an item’s size contributes greatly to its value, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Often times, size is only one contributing factor, and we'll take a look at others here.

Many companies, in addition to their more commercial lines, had talented artists decorating their items in their “artist lines.”

Regardless of which company’s pottery you come across, there will always be certain artists’ work that stands out, and their wares are the most sought after and will bring in top dollar. For example, Doulton had Noke, Barlow, Tinsworth, and Marshall as their premiere artists. In America’s Newcomb pottery, Bailey and Simpson lead their group of artists. Daley, Sax, Shirayamadani and Nourse are the leading names in Rookwood and are quite valuable.

Being able to recognize specific artists’ work for a particular company will set you ahead considerably, among other things.

The 31 Gallery & Marketplace has a Doulton Lambeth-Louise E. Edwards decorated vase. While Edwards wasn’t in Doulton’s top tier of artists like Hannah Barlow was, Edward’s works are more rare than Barlow’s and also quite desirable.

Any piece produced by top artists will bring big money, but this is, again, just one factor in evaluating a piece for price.

Next to which artist decorated the piece, I believe the most important factor in price evaluation is its GLAZE.

Many Doulton pieces will bring very little in this market regardless of their size, but if you add one of the top artist names to the piece, bingo! Now, to get the piece to the stratosphere in value, just add a very rare glaze to it. Double bingo!
Familiarize yourself with Doulton’s Chang, Chinese Jade, Sung, and Titaniam glazes so you’ll be able to spot these when you come across them.

Most dealers are familiar with Rookwood, but few can distinguish their different glazes. Knowledge of their glazes will give you a great advantage because this is where there can be huge price differentials. Rookwood glazes commanding top prices are Coromandel, Dip/Drip, Goldstone, Tiger Eye, Oxblood, and Rust. If you are fortune enough to find pieces of Rookwood in these glazes, you’ve found a true treasure.

Now, here comes the story: I walked into a high end antique store in Chicago and couldn't believe the prices they were asking for what I thought were quite common pieces. Still, I couldn't leave until I had looked at every item they had for sale. In the back of the store, I spotted a very small vase looking rather lonely, about 4” in height. I picked it up to examine who the artist was, but as I looked at it, I realized it was a very rare glaze by a very early artist.

The store was having a sale that day and priced the vase at $400. I quickly offered $200 and it became mine quite quickly. As I left the store, I’m sure the sales lady was shaking her head saying, “There goes a fool without his money.”

Little did she know that I consigned the vase to the Cincinnati Art Galleries and it brought in (drum roll) $2000 at auction.

My friend Cecil did the same thing recently. He bought a piece of Owens pottery for less than $100. But, because it had a special glaze he recognized it and knew it was a great buy. That piece was hammered at over $2400 at auction.

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