It’s All in the Marks: Strnact Pottery

Event at Art Nouveau’s peak, pottery from Josef Strnact pottery didn’t top price charts, possibly due to the fact so many pieces were produced.

This vase is made in the Art Nouveau style, circa 1900, and it was manufactured in Austria. The markings indicate that it was made by the Josef Strnact pottery from 1900 to 1933.

The Strnact pottery, which employed more than 300 people in 1910, was founded by Josef Strnact, Jr., in 1881 in the former Austrian town of Turn-Teplitz, about 25 miles south of Dresden, Germany. The terra-cotta, majolica and faience produced by this factory were instant successes because of the pottery’s wide product range. It included faience and majolica vases, garden pieces like flowerpots and pillars, umbrella stands, tobacco jars and mantel-clock casings. It also made weaved and open-worked stoneware, like baskets and flower receptacles. The company also produced terra-cotta wall plaques and letters for signage.

Josef Strnact’s pottery used a variety of marks in this J.S shield form that were printed and impressed into the clay in raised relief.

Art Nouveau, as its name suggests, was the first truly new style of the modern era that did not look to the past for inspiration. The Art Nouveau style was based on natural forms rather than architecture, employing organic curves, floral design and the feminine form. The style was short lived, flourishing between about 1890 and 1910 throughout Europe and the United States. Variations of it were found in Germany, where it was called “Jugendstil” in Germany, “Sezessionstil” in Austria and “Stile Floreale” in Italy.

These marks in the Josef Strnact shield were one of several used by the pottery.

Austria was a major exporter of Art Nouveau pottery and porcelain during the late Victorian era, and Strnact’s was just one of many companies that made pottery in this style. The peak of production occurred before World War I.

Values for Art Nouveau decorative items peaked in the 1990s. Values since then have declined somewhat, along with other Victorian furnishings. The values for Strnact pottery, possibly because the amount produced, never rose to the heights of contemporaries like Royal Bonn or Amphora, even during the peak of demand.

This particular vase sold recently at auction for $150.

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

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