Identification and Price guides for Antiques & Collectibles

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identifying Rookwood Pottery marksRookwood Pottery was founded by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880, forming the business in Cincinnati, Ohio in an old abandoned schoolhouse. She named it Rookwood after the family country estate. Maria Nichols was one of a group of talented society women in Cincinnati, Ohio, who painted blank china as a hobby. She learned under English-born Benn Pitman [b.1822 - d.1910], one of the most important pioneers of the Cincinnati Arts & Crafts movement [he is also famous for his shorthand method by the same name]. The company closed in 1967.

Rookwood Pottery is very well-marked and usually easy to identify. One of the most famous symbols is the conjoined back-to-back R-P initials which began in 1886. The following year a "flame" was added around the symbol, one for each year, until 1900.

Rookwood pieces made after 1900, have a Roman Numeral beneath the mark. For example, the number 26 in the Roman notation, XXVI, would indicate the piece was made in 1926. This is not to be confused with the occasional marking of a hand-incised "X" on some works that denotes an eXperimental piece and would usually be placed near, but never within, the proper factory mark.

There were a number of marks used in the early 1880s, including TWO ROOKS ON EITHER SIDE OF A SMOKESTACK in 1880 - 1882, an ANCHOR in 1880 - 1883, and RIBBONS in 1880 - 1882.

However, the most challenging aspect of identifying Rookwood Pottery is recognizing the artisan or decorator that signed each piece. In general, knowing the artisan or decorator that either worked on an item, either by forming its shape or applying detailed decorative elements, elevates its appraisal value significantly. Some artisans are obviously more famous or popular than others, and their works fetch even more at auction.

In addition to Maria Longworth Nichols, the founder, other well-known Rookwood artists & decorators include:

  • Katoro Shirayamadani
  • Elizabeth Barrett
  • Olga Geneva Reed
  • C. Schmidt
  • Edward T. Hurley
  • Sallie Toohey
  • William McDonald
  • John Dee Wareham
  • Constance A. Baker
  • Linda Epply
  • Sara Sax
  • Lenore Asbury
  • Sally Coyne
  • Elizabeth Lincoln
  • Grace Young
  • Matthew Andrew Daly
  • and many more...
Signatures and initials used by the above Rookwood decorators and several other artisans can be viewed by signing up to our marks4ceramics research service.

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