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Ask A Worthologist Question: Weller Pottery Umbrella Stand

by Mike Wilcox (07/05/11).

This Weller Forest-pattern umbrella stand, marked for sale at a clear-out price of $450, would be an excellent buy.

Veronica J. spotted this “large vase” in an antique shop whose proprietor was retiring and clearing his stock. The vase was tagged as “Weller,” but it was unmarked. When questioned about it, the dealer claimed he’d purchased it at auction five years before as a Weller piece, but had been unable to sell it for a price on which he could make a profit. Veronica wanted to buy it, but was unsure she wants to pay $450 for an unmarked piece. She contacted WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service to inquire about this piece, its origins and value. Her request was forwarded to me, here’s her question:

“I ran across this large vase (20 inches tall) in an antique store that was going out of business, most of the stock was furniture with only a dozen or so pieces of pottery and porcelain. This piece, like most of the pottery I could see, was used as decorative pieces on the tables, most of the tags were faded with prices crossed off. The tag on this one read “Weller,” but it was unmarked, I asked the dealer about it and he said he’d picked up at a auction that specialized in American pottery as a Weller piece, but had been unable to get his money back out of it. He had it marked down to $450 from $800, but I don’t want to buy something with no idea as to who made it. I’d like to know if it is a Weller piece and if it’s a good value at $450.”

Here’s my response.

Based on your image this is indeed a piece by Weller, and quite a good one at that. Weller pottery was founded by Sam Weller, circa 1872, but the company did not begin producing art pottery until about 1889. The success of the art pottery line was boosted by an increased interest in Arts & Crafts that swept both Europe and North America during the last quarter of the 19th century.

Like many other potters Weller expanded his line to fill the growing demand, producing portrait vases, series ware, such as “Dickensware”—after characters depicted in the books of Charles Dickens—and themed ware with names like “Woodcraft,” “Forest,” “Hunter” and “Auroral.” This particular piece is not actually a vase; it’s an umbrella stand in Weller’s Forest pattern, which was designed by Rudolph Lorber, who joined Weller in 1905. The Forest pattern was made in both matt and gloss glazes.

While not much found in modern houses today, at the time this piece was made, a great many people either walked or used public transportation, hence the need to carry an umbrella in inclement weather. Umbrella stands like this one served a useful purpose at the time, placed by the entrances so soggy, dripping umbrellas would not stain wooden floors or cause slippery conditions on tiles.

In regards to value, there has been quite a drop in the value of American art pottery in recent years, but the values for better pieces like this one have not suffered near as much. Based on current auction results for Weller Forest pieces, this umbrella stand would be a good buy at $450. We have seen comparables sell in the $800-$1,200 range.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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