Like many successful businesses, one of the most prominent late 19th and early 20th century ceramics and pottery companies was created from a hobby.
Maria Longworth Nichols Storer painted blank china pieces. By 1870, she had experimented to get just the right glazes and just the right temperatures to create high quality ceramic ware to open her own marketing company in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known as Rookwood Pottery Company, her ceramic pieces created over a period of 70 years would be considered one of the most collectible ceramic series with one piece bringing $375,000 at auction in 2004.
At first, early Rockwood would be done on natural clay with an abundance of pinks, sage, and greens sometimes with carved or stamped patterns.
But then a more “standard” glaze appeared. Gold, red, orange over dark brown glaze produced a very high gloss finish, usually utilizing a leaf or flower pattern and, at times, even historical figures.
A “matte” glaze followed featuring pale blue and greens painted on soft colored clay painted over a yellow, blue or red base.
Next, came a “vellum” glaze that was a light blue matte over a lightly colored clay.
The “iris” glaze was a high gloss white brushed over a pink, blue, or yellow base used mostly for flower motifs and patterns.
“Tiger eye” was a glaze that included gold streaks that proved unstable. This glaze wasn’t produced much and so is quite collectible, if found.
The very last standard was “ombroso” glaze, a brown or black matte glaze usually used with cut or incised pieces.
Rookwood Pottery Company continued producing amazing tiles, vases, architectural features, and other ceramic and pottery pieces until 1941 when production ended. The Depression hit the company hard and never fully recovered.
In 2004, the name Rookwood is again producing fine pottery and highly collectible ceramic wonders in Cincinnati, Ohio where the original Rookwood Pottery Company was located.
The vision of Maria Longworth Nichols Storer will once again be fired in every distinctive pottery and ceramic collectible produced by the new Rookwood Pottery Company.