It’s All in the Marks: How to Identify Rookwood Pottery

It’s a Rookwood vase, but when was it made and who designed it?

For appraisers at Antiques Roadshow-type of events, it’s often like teaching condensed “Antiques 101” courses, with a narrow focus on one maker, artist or decorative-arts movement. In many cases, we first concentrate on the basics of identification to determine more detailed information from what we see.

In this article, I’ll take you through the process and show how things like dates of production and the artist or decorator can be determined. The example I’m using here is a Rookwood vase.

The first thing we see is the Rookwood company stamp—the back-to-back “RP” marking used on pieces made from 1886 until the company closed in 1967. A “flame” was added to the RP mark each year of production until 1900, when14 flames were used. Counting the flames would provide the year of production up until 1900.

So how do we tell if a Rookwood piece was made after 1900? Simple. Directly below our Rookwood-company stamp with 14 flames we see a second date mark used used from 1901 forward; in this case the Roman numeral “XX.” For this piece, it means it was made in 1920, “XX” meaning “20” in Roman script.

So now we know Rookwood made this piece in 1920.

Fourteen flames indicate 1900 or later. The “XX” indicate 1920. The “917C” indicates the shape and size, and “LCL” is the designer’s initials.

Below this date mark we find the number “917C.” This is the shape number, with the letter “C” indicating the size. Rookwood identified sizes with the letters “A” through “F,” with the letter “A” for the largest pieces and “F” the smallest. The “C” in this case indicates a mid-sized vase in this shape form, which also identifies it as a mid-range value for one of this shape and size. The larger ones tend to be more rare and valuable.

The last marking on this piece is “LNL,” a marking used by Elizabeth Lincoln, who worked as a decorator for Rookwood from 1882 through 1931. She is considered an A-list Rookwood artist, and her work is of great interest with Rookwood collectors today.

For easy reference, all of Rookwood’s markings shown here and for thousands of other companies can be found using WorthPoint’s Marks & Library archive.

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

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