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Walrath Art Pottery and the Pottery Market

by daryles-antiques-finearts (05/06/08).
Example of Walrath Pottery valued in the thousands of dollars.

This past weekend, I saw Rosville and Weller pottery well overpriced at an estate sale and wondered how anyone could turn a profit if they purchased these pieces at those prices. This is not the first sale I’ve seen this. In fact, this seems to be the norm today, and the reason why so many dealers are having a hard time selling their inventory. At the Arlington Park Antique Show I attended last month, it seemed to me that items such as Grueby, Newcomb and Rookwood were priced out of sight. I wonder if perhaps these pieces are being purchased by dealers at prices too inflated for today’s markets.

The secondary market should set the prices for us to use as a guide when we purchase, and if we find pieces priced even beyond that, where can we hope to go with them? Yes, the best are bringing record prices, but that isn’t so when it comes to the medium or lower priced items.

A new name that might bring you great returns, should you find a piece is Frederick Walrath. Walrath was an exceptional potter and his work is coveted by the most serious collectors of American Art Pottery. Walreth died in 1920, and his better vases can easily command five figures and his less serious pieces will bring in the hundreds. The pieces I’ll be discussing are the ones he produced in Rochester, New York, however he did work at one time for the Newcomb Pottery Company of New Orleans.

His work is marked Walrath Pottery” with a mark that looks like a cross bow between the two words. This is the kind of item that most people will pass, or have very little knowledge of what its true value should be. When you find a special piece of Walrath, this is the time to be patient and check all your connections before pricing it on the market. Here is where you can really compound your investment. While others are struggling to break even on the more known pieces like Roseville, Weller and Van Briggle, you will have your money ready for those special pieces of Walrath when the opportunity presents itself. Patience will be your guide to success.

This weekend was a prefect example of what I am talking about. Thinking I was going to buy several items at a sale I attended, my plan wasn’t fulfilled. I made a pass at several items that would have been good buys at the price I offered, but my offer wasn’t a deal maker. I only purchased one piece from this sale, keeping my other funds in my pocket for another day.

I knew the Rookwood lamp at this sale was exceptional, and I knew I had to own it. But, even as sure as I was that I’d found my treasure for the week, I called a good friend in Cincinnati to confirm my judgment. He assured me that the lamp was a fantastic buy. In my judgment, this piece is very special and should go to auction for the best results. Remember, we aren’t in a hurry because the compounding of our funds will create wealth for us, not the quantity of pieces we buy and sell.
So add Walrath Pottery to your growing list of things to watch for. By now, if you have followed my blog, that list should contain several items that could change your prospective of this business.

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