Yet once again, as I write this ezine I am traveling on an airplane. We are leaving Bellingham and heading back to Southern California. Today is Houston's first day of High School--Orientation--so we will rush from the Palm Springs airport to get him there on time. Luckily, my good friend Lori is picking us up. Thank you Lori! She is Garage Sale Lou's wife. This will all make sense when episode #2 of my reality show debuts...soon!
Here is Houston after he got his school books, ASB card and gym uniform and proceeded to drop them on the ground. Oh to be a kid again!
Special Announcement: Live Boot Camp at HQ--Only 5 4 Seats Left!
Feature Article: My favorite Art Potters--Moorcroft, Mideke and Rookwood
This ezine is published every two weeks.
August 26th, 2011
Volume VII, Issue 13
As you know, we spent a week in Denver for Houston's baseball tournament. Houston's team took 6th place out of 31 teams. They played really well and we had a nice time. I even went go-cart racing (I was scared the entire time) and bobsledded down an alpine slide. I am living every day with gusto! Carpe Diem is my new motto!
My dad joined us so it was nice to spend time with him. The thrift stores were fantastic and I of course, packed an extra suitcase (that I bought at a thrift store ) to take up to Bellingham with me.
Here are Indy and I in the hotel lobby packing my vintage Fabergé Suitcase!
I haven't written an ezine in a while. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one concerns my sister Kristin. My little sister was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma (metastasized) on April 22nd. The first doctor gave her 12 months. She has since changed doctors.
We were in Bellingham to help watch her boys (Zach 5 and Kai 3) while she got chemo in Seattle, help her to clean out her garage, hold three garage sales and try and list as many things on eBay for her as we possibly could.
Here is one of our wild garage sales (before it opened,
with Indy unpacking and sorting), which many customers told us was,
"The best-organized garage sale they had ever seen."
My sister and I also spent a lot of time going through the boxes she had inherited from my Grandmother. It was bittersweet. We laughed, we cried, we thanked our grandmother for leaving us so many great things. In one of the boxes, my sister found a test piece of Mideke pottery (a famous Bellingham potter). Serious score!
My sister couldn't wait to get that one listed! Check it out here.
I am also auctioning off a Boot Camp in a Box, all of my auction packages, and many of my other products to raise money for my sister. Please check these items out here.
Even during tough times it was great hanging out with my family. My sister is an incredibly strong and brave woman and I know she can beat the odds on this one.
I got an email from a lady who had purchased the eBook on flatware and wondered if we had sent out volume 2 yet. I replied that I was working on it and we should have it done soon (the writing will be done on August 31st and formatting should take another week) but explained what was going on with my sister. Her reply was right on the money and I asked her if I could share this with you all...
I'm really sorry to hear about your sister. That puts a whole other spin on priorities - I've been there with my Dad. Hope all works out well with your sister.
Take all the time you need and spend as much time with your sister as you can. Life is too precious to take a 'rain check' on.
I was just worried that I had deleted the link when I was cleaning out my inbox.
My prayers are with you,
She was absolutely right. Life doesn't come with rain checks. I did stop and take more time with my family. eBooks, ezines and the elifestyle can wait. We all need to take more time away from our computers, our cell phones and all of those gadgets. Carpe Diem.
I was out to dinner recently with my family and looking around the table every person was either looking up something on the Internet, texting a friend or checking their emails. I said, "Stop, put all of your phones away...seriously what has this world come to? Do you even remember when there was no such thing as a cell phone?" Of course, my mom, dad, brother and sister did, but not my kids. We have a rule now that when sitting down for meals, cell phones must be turned off or left in the other room.
I got a great chance to spend more time with friends at my high school reunion while in Bellingham. It was a blast reconnecting with classmates I hadn't seen in years. My best friend from 6th grade (Melanie) and I hosted a "pre-func" (pre-function) for eight of our friends in our hotel room before the Friday night barbecue. What a blast!
Saturday night was the main event. Then there was a family picnic on Sunday. I was able to drag the kids to that. There was a Civil War reenactment going on behind us. It was quite surreal.
Here are Houston and Indy walking back to the picnic after checking out the Civil War. Apparently, the South was winning and Abraham Lincoln told my kids that his head hurt. Houston and Indy wanted to jump into the action and say, "Hello we are from the future." Kind of funny...yes or no?
Even though we were in town to help my sister, I wanted to give my kids and mom a break so we took a two-day trip to Victoria, B.C. What a blast! And guess who is headquartered in Victoria, Terapeak. One of my favorite research companies EVER.
We went out to breakfast with Denise and Matt, then they took us to their new headquarters. (They should start calling it HQ like we do.) They were seeing their new HQ for the first time along with us! Seriously, it was an epic experience. Houston has decided he wants to move to Victoria and work for Terapeak, but of course his goals and aspirations change every minute. He is a teenager, mind you.
Here is a photo of my mom, Denise, Anthony (co-founder), me, Indy, Houston (eyes closed) and Matt. What an awesome experience!
In between all of this craziness, my mom and I did manage to hit our favorite charity sale of the summer--The Lydia Place event held in the ice arena. I spotted a vase on the table with all the cheap dime store vases that I just knew was something special. My gut told me it was Moorcroft. I picked it up but with my vision getting so bad (and my refusal to wear readers), I thought it said that it had been purchased on the Queen Mary.
When I got it home and could actually read it, I was right about it being Morrcroft! It hadn't said, "Purchased on the Queen Mary," but, "Potters to the late Queen Mary." Yikes!
Here is a link to that vase for which I paid $1.00.
Score! It also gave me a great idea for an article this week. Why not write about my favorite art potters? My sister had just found a test piece of Mideke and here was this beautiful vase staring me in the face. Don't miss my feature article this week entitled "My favorite Art Potters--Moorcroft, Mideke, and Rookwood."
Speaking of Missing...there is still time to reserve a spot at my Live Boot Camp and not miss out!
This year's Live Boot Camp at HQ is going to be more important than ever before. The many eBay changes and how to deal with them will be our focus. You can reserve your seat now (remember, only FIVE FOUR spots left). Read more about it in the Special Announcement section. The detailed informational page can be found here.
A very important topic that we will be covering at Live Boot Camp and on last month's Queen's Court call, was the multiple auction listing regulations that are now being enforced. I had several auctions shut down a few weeks ago because my sell-through was not 30% on multiple auction listings. This has changed our strategy for listing. Mo and I have been having fun with it and believe that it will be saving us eBay fees in the long run.
My mom will be in town for Live Boot Camp. I can't wait for her to get to town early to help us whip Headquarters into shape. I did NOT make it through the Alps so those of you attending Live Boot Camp will get a chance to view it in person. Bring your cameras! Maybe we can get a photo with us at the top with an American flag .
Speaking of my mom, she is an amazing lady who turned 75 years old this past week! We had a really fun party for her and I have never laughed so hard in my life. Here is a family photo from the party.
Also, before I forget, my mom's best friend from kindergarten, Verlaine, attended this epic event. She is so cute. She and her husband Ted are loyal ezine readers. She told me her goal was to be in my ezine. So here you go Verlaine. Here is Verlaine and my mom!
I had bought a tent at guess where? A garage sale! I was looking for one because my sister wanted it to camp out in with her boys. I paid $20 and thought that was a pretty good deal. Well, I am a STRANGER to camping. Not my thing at all. So, during my mom's party we asked some of the guests to put it together for Kristin. Apparently I had bought the tent but left the stakes and poles behind. I managed to contact the lady I bought it from, drive back to her house (an hour round trip) pick up the missing pieces and return to the party.
It then took eight adults over 2 1/2 hours to put together this tent. Yes, it was vintage! I took some video and have posted it on YouTube, but all you can hear is me hysterically laughing. Just as my brother and sister would get one side set up, the other would cave in. At one point my sister was laughing so hard she fell over on the ground. It was priceless! The best $20 I ever spent.
My sister's boys loved it and they spent one night in it. We should have taken it down and sold it at her garage sale but instead we took it down yesterday, put it out on the street with a free sign and it was gone in an instant.
As I was preparing for eBay on Location that takes place in Florida in about two weeks, I realized I needed to source some new merchandise for an example. I needed some cash quickly to buy some closeouts from a manufacturer. I remembered my credit line with Kabbage and boom, within seconds I had the money I needed. Kabbage is a wonderful place to access cash based on your selling history with either eBay or now Amazon. Great news--Amazon sellers are now eligible!
Kabbage looks at your sales history--not just your credit score-- and the cash advance is done in an instant. The money can be in your PayPal account within seconds. To learn more and apply, please go here.
Here I am with the Kabbage team at my LOL event last March. This is an amazing company with great vision! They actually want to help online sellers!
With everything going on, I have decided to focus more on The Queen's Court and it has become an even higher priority for me. We have some great news in our Lynn Recommends section. Don't miss reading this section!
Hi there! I am pleased to invite you
into my inner circle - The Queen's Court
Join this Exciting Proven Program (we are celebrating the beginning of our 5th year!) and Get Intense Doses of My Inspiration, Motivation, and eBay Success Secrets Each Month via Phone, and Internet. Read on to Get the Full Scoop...and Wait 'til You See What all I'm Giving You!
Dear Fellow eBayer:
Over the past many years I've been getting the same request from many of you.
You would like my eBay advice and inspiration available whenever you want it and actually what you want is more direct access to me. I did not do a personalized mentoring program before the Queen's Court because it would have just been too expensive. But you still want to have your questions answered and to know that someone out there is rooting for you and believes in you.
So my brother and I brainstormed the Queen's Court, where I can share...
the eBay strategies and business plan that I personally use to generate an average of $8,333.33 every month using eBay to sell unique one-of-a-kind items
this information coming to you on a consistent basis, in a clear, simple way
frequent doses of inspiration and motivation, and finally
the Mastermind experience, so that you all, along with myself, can interact, network, and brainstorm with each other.
And that is how we came up with the Queen's Court back in July of 2007. This private inner circle that gives you ME on a regular basis, but is still affordable.
My Super Special Inner Circle...
The Queen's Court!
LIVE Monthly Question and Answer with the Queen and Maureen (the court jester )!
Online Digital Audio Recordings of each and every call via live streaming or MP3 download.
Private Online Access to the Inner Circle for networking, brainstorming and making great business contacts.
Access to Lynn's Antiques & Collectibles Knowledge, giving member's insider information about items they will be selling on eBay.
An extra 15% off of all of my products (live events and QC membership excluded)
A Super Special Surprise Bonus each and every month!
This is my favorite part of the Queen's Court! That is why I saved it for last. Each month I am going to surprise you with something TOTALLY unexpected. This ALONE is worth the low price of admission.
As some examples, it could be a bonus teleseminar, a chance to meet me in person, or a special gift sent to you in the mail. It has become a Christmas tradition that each year I send out a wrapped gift that is an item we have learned about during the year that you are actually encouraged to sell on eBay. One year it was a book, the next year a plush animal and this past year...well you will have to join the Queen's Court to find out what that gift was . One of my QCers sold her plush Christmas gift for over $75.00. What a great gift!
Remember, as a member of The Queen's Court you are going to be treated differently--and by that I mean Special. You are in my inner circle and I TAKE GOOD CARE of my inner circle!
The Queen's Court has also developed into a wonderful community of caring, helpful members. Many of us work at home so getting an opportunity to connect on a regular basis with other eBayers is something you can't put a price on.
Are you Interested?
I hope so, many others have already joined the group and we'd love to have you. Click here to join now.
And I've got some great news for current subscribers as well as new subscribers.
The price of The Queen's Court is dropping by $5 per month!!!
We've stopped sending out physical CDs of our monthly teleseminar and we are passing on that savings to our members. The audio will still be available as downloads and you will be able to burn a CD on your home computer if you need one for listening away from your computer.
At the new, lower price, The Queen's Court is an even greater value. Click here to join now.
ONLY Five Four Seats Left for
2011 Live Boot Camp
Palm Desert, CA at Headquarters (HQ)
These dates are…
Friday, September 23rd to Sunday, September 25th, 2011
Only four seats remaining. Click here for more info.
Eight seats are already spoken for.
Will you fill one of the remaining four?
Reservations are open, email me for your customized link to reserve your spot.
'My favorite Art Potters--Moorcroft, Mideke and Rookwood'
by Lynn Dralle, The Queen of Auctions
When I started writing this article, I realized that these are my favorite art potters, but really this article should have been titled, My Grandmother's Favorite Art Potters. These are her top three by far! Isn't it amazing what we learn from our elders? But I never looked at my grandmother as an elder, more like an amazing friend and mentor. I miss her a lot and so does the rest of my family. I hope that I can make that same impact on my kids and hopefully grandkids. Carpe Diem.
So lets get back on track and learn about my grandmother's three favorite art potters!
My grandmother always loved Moorcroft pottery. It was not easy to find and she only ever had two pieces. One was this small pitcher or cruet that she had bought in England.
Sometimes on rainy days we would take a break from pricing and she would show me her collections. She was telling me about this Moorcroft piece on one such day and I told her how beautiful I thought it was. She said, "You like it, it's yours." "Grandma, you give me far too many things." "No, I want you to have it," she said. "Don't say another word." She got one of the little scrap cards that were always around and wrote "Property of Lynn Dralle" and taped it to the base. We usually left the things that she gave us in her home in her cupboards so that she could still enjoy them. But we knew that they were now ours.
When my grandmother started in the antiques business in the 1940s, there weren't a lot of written materials available to help dealers learn about their wares. Antiques reference guides were few and far between. One of the ways my grandmother acquired some of her knowledge was by reading antiques magazines like Hobbies and Antiques Dealer. One of her favorites in later years was the Antique Trader. We bought and sold many things through this great publication. She would cut out any pertinent advertisements or articles and place them inside the items they referred to. This Moorcroft pitcher had one of those little scraps of paper tucked inside. It was a clipping from the Antique Trader in 1990 which listed a Moorcroft vase for sale for $1,010, so we knew the pitcher was a good piece.
Moorcroft was originally founded in 1897 in England as a studio within a larger company, Macintyre Potteries. The designer was 24-yearold William Moorcroft, who soon began to sign or initial each piece of pottery he produced. This did little for the Macintyre company, and in 1912 William Moorcroft went out on his own. He began making his most popular "Pomegranate" ware around 1914. Queen Mary collected his pottery, and in 1928 he was named "Potter to the Queen." He passed away in 1945 and control of the company went to his son, Walter. The company is still in business and their pottery is fabulous.
I decided to sell this piece and found that it had the script signature of the actual William Moorcroft! The other piece my grandmother had was just signed with a stamped signature. I knew this made it a great piece and I put it on with a $499 reserve. It sold for $1,092 and went back to Great Britain. We got more than she had thought it was worth in 1990. She would have been happy!
Several years ago I sold a Mideke coffee mug that I found at a Goodwill in Cathedral City for almost $50, When My mom saw that, she decided to sell some of her Mideke pieces. Here is one of those pieces. A lovely bowl that I remember being in our house when I was growing up.
This sold for a lot of money.
With all these Mideke pieces being talked about, I decided that it would be a great time to do an article about Louis Mideke and his wife Jean, who was also a potter.
I grew up hearing about Mideke and what a fan of his work was my grandmother! She often bought pieces from his studio. They were friends and both had their businesses located off of Sunset Drive in Bellingham, Washington. I don't think I ever met Louis but from what I have read about him, he was quite the character...just like my Grandmother!
I had moved back to Bellingham in 1993 to run my grandmother's shop and one day in 1994 we got a phone call from Robin Reynolds, owner of The Good Earth Pottery in the Fairhaven area of Bellingham. Louis Mideke had passed away in 1989 and Jean in 1993. When the estate was closed in 1993, hundreds of pieces were found throughout the attic, house and grounds. A small selection was reserved for museum donations and the larger selection was purchased by Robin and sold at the Good Earth Pottery. After about a year of handling the pieces, Robin wanted to sell the entire collection.
Off went my Grandmother and I to see Robin. We ended up buying what remained, about 200 pieces. There was nothing that made my Grandmother happier than spending money--on stock for the store! As we packed up box after box, Robin mentioned that she had put together a packet of articles about Louis and Jean and that she had worked on it with Louis's son Michael. Robin gave us this packet to hand out to anyone that purchased the Mideke pieces now located at Cheryl Leaf Antiques.
Line sketch of Louis Mideke done in 1958
When I decided to write this article, I searched all over my office for those papers. Couldn't find them anywhere. How was I going to write this one? I got on Google, but couldn't find much of anything about the Midekes. I decided to start cleaning my office--about time anyway---and there on a shelf was the pile of articles!!! Yippeeee!!!
I immediately tracked down Robin Reynolds who now lives in North Dakota and asked her permission to share all this wonderful information with you and she said, "Of course!" She said that we should also credit Michael Mideke with helping to draft the articles and the timeline. Robin is a very talented artist and now works with the clays in North Dakota. Check out her amazing web site here NDClay.com.
So here we go....Courtesy of Robin Reynolds and Michael Mideke
This first section was written by Robin Reynolds in 1993:
Jean Mideke 1911-1993
Louis Mideke 1908-1989
Many Whatcom County residents knew Jean and Louis Mideke as an extraordinary couple who made many valuable contributions to the art and life of our community. In 1981 Louis was honored as a "living treasure" by the Municipal Arts Commission in Bellingham, Washington as a potter whose work was characterized by his use of local materials; distinctive, utilitarian, and elegant.
Jean Mideke's early work sculpting clay and jewelry fabrication culminated in a later period of lost-wax bronze birds and jewelry of exceptional quality. Perhaps less productive than Louis, Jean "subsidized" the pottery until her retirement from teaching in the mid-1960s. "Although Jean and Louis worked independently," says their son, Michael, "they almost always worked cooperatively, constantly providing each other with critical and technical support." The Midekes closed their Sunset Drive showroom in 1985 and announced the pottery was sold out.
I was an apprentice potter when I met the Midekes in 1980, not long before the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The following years of "shop-talk", exchange of St. Helens glaze formulas, and socializing seem balanced in my favor as I recall the combined effect of the Mideke's sharp humor, opinions, and philosophic gems. Their generosity stands in contrast to Louie's (as everyone called him) reputation for crustiness. In her Living Treasure Tribute speech, former Arts Commissioner, Marian Boylan related, "Louis is like a good loaf of sourdough bread; crusty on top and soft as a marshmallow inside....leavened by many years of hard work and mellowed by the gentleness of his temperament and soul." Perhaps he was not unlike what he found true in pottery; that a round pot has many sides.
"Early in his career," according to Michael Mideke, "Louis entered pieces in shows and won some honors, but this aspect of the "Art" business did not appeal to him. He felt pottery should be useful, beautiful to see and touch, and accessible to the people. As in everything he did, Louis was a self-educated potter. He gathered his inspiration from books and museums, grounding himself in a tradition that was predominantly oriental."
Louis used local materials as both clay bodies and glaze ingredients for endless experimentation and record keeping. He also believed his pottery ought to be smooth enough to sit on the finest mahogany surface without scratching, according to his former student and friend, Bob Jeffcott, who also said Lou believed one pot in a thousand was museum quality.
Once he got started, pottery dominated the rest of Louis' working life. But he was never exclusively a potter, since he continued to work in metal and wood. Louis' health became increasingly fragile from the mid-1970s and during the 1980s arthritis began to hamper his wheel work. Eventually this, in conjunction with the demands of firing, became more than he could manage and pottery production ceased.
Perhaps understanding the Mideke legacy is better navigated in an answer given by Shoji Hamada, world-renowned potter, when he was asked how he felt when one of his pots was accidentally broken or otherwise lost. He replied, "What is important is not how you feel when you have or see the pot, it is in what remains when the pot is gone."
Robin and I discussed Louis' signatures and we think that the one with the tree was one of the earliest. Sorry, I don't have a photo. Also remember that he didn't always sign his wood or metal pieces.
Then came the MIDEKE block stamp as shown here on the base of my favorite Mideke vase.
Cross vase and signature.
Then came the Mideke script signature as shown here.
His real autograph!
Chronological Notes--Robin Reynolds and Michael Mideke
1908 Born in Grandview, Washington to a farming family.
1923-1940 Keeps a diary, honing his skills as a writer. Photography another active pursuit in Washington and later in Alaska. The surviving snapshots reveal a sensitive eye and a solid sense of design.
Circa 1927 Comes to Bellingham. Meets the Hibners. Works Northwest jobs: mills, fields, sheep ranches, steamers and forest fire fighting. Dreamed of Alaska and announced a determination to be his own man.
1929-1930 Heads North. Later to call these his "energetic years." Homesteads in SW Alaska, a year on Glacier Bay, runs the length of the Yukon River in a rowboat, works for the Lammers Exploration Company, and dredges gold around the Arctic Circle. Comes south winters and gravitates to Bellingham and his ten year correspondence and courtship of Jean Hibner.
1938 Marries Jean Hibner.
1938-1940 They go north. Jean working as cook for a small mining camp where Louis was foreman.
WWII Bremerton, WA. Works as a shipbuilder; instructor-welder.
1943 Son, Michael, born.
1947 Family moves to Bellingham. Louis was still off on occasional expeditions with Lammers, but they grew shorter and more local--Wyoming, Idaho, California and British Colombia.
1948 Buys the Sunset Drive property. Louis immediately sets to work improving the place and putting in a garden. But "work" was no fun and money scarce, and in the evenings he whittled whimsical things by the fireplace.
1950 Gets his hands in clay and once he got started, pottery dominated the rest of Louis' working life. His work in metal and wood continues, and from time to time his excursions into metal left the wheel briefly idle. First studio in the laundry room.
My metal mideke lamp.
1951 Wins the L.T. Butler award for excellence at the Northwest Craftsmen's Show in Portland Oregon.
Peter Volkous invites him to work in Montana at the Archie Bray Foundation, but unthinkable for the solitary worker to join the "Wildman" at the Bray scene.
Beginning with commercial clays, he quickly shifted to local clays...from natural inclination and to save money. This step dictated the development of locally based glazes.
1953 Converts an elderly chicken house into a studio. Fires wares in a small electric kiln.
1954 Sales shop open for business.
Wins Clay Purchase Award, Henry Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Northwest Craftsmen's Exhibition.
Continues to work with local materials. Midrange electric firing vitrified clay bodies.
1964 Meets Bob Jeffcott and uses trapline clay from Jeffcott's tile plant near Everson, WA.
1965 High fire, reduction kiln (gas) installed at Jeffcott's allowing him to work in porcelain and stoneware. Although commercial clay bodies, local materials continued to play a significant role in his work. Commercial bodies allowed him more time making pots than he'd previously spent processing local clays.
1967 Moved kiln to the backyard at Sunset Drive.
Mid 1970s His health increasingly fragile.
1974 Retrospective show at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art in Bellingham, WA.
1981 Designated a "living treasure" by the Municipal Arts Commission, Bellingham, WA.
Arthritis hampers his wheel work.
1985 Business at Sunset Drive closes in March
1989 Dies, survived by wife, Jean, son, and two grandchildren.
1993 Jean dies, survived by her son, one sister, and two grandchildren.
Here is another piece of Mideke that my mom
sold on eBay.
This next interesting quote comes from an article written by Mary Kay Becker for "Northwest Passage" in November of 1971....
"Though his work has been exhibited and sold from coast to coast, you might live a long time in Whatcom County without knowing of him. "I don't beat a very big drum," he told us. A small sign almost hidden by shrubbery marks the location of his home and backyard workshop (open Wednesday thru Saturdays) at 1906 E. Sunset Drive. Visitors interested in high quality pottery can there observe the process as well as the product.
Hanging on the wall as you go in is a handmade poster, sent to Mideke by a "fancier" in Greenwich Village and inscribed with a quotation from Hawthorn: "Men are earthen jugs with spirits in them." Here, in the front of the shop, the finished pots are for sale a few shelves of pitchers, bowls, cups and jugs. In back is the work area where squarish lumps of grey Washington clay the unfired beginnings of the pots emerge whirling and wet. Under the guidance of Mideke's hands and tools, necks are narrowed, lips flare out, and eccentric contours are smoothed into symmetry. Fingers as well as eyes find a feast here.
Mideke's setup includes three wheels, a large and a small kiln, and row upon row of glass jars containing the materials from which he compounds his own glazes, experimenting frequently find new effects. An old favorite is the crackle pattern produced by shrinking of the glaze around the pot during firing, the basics techniques for which were perfected by the Chinese a thousand years ago......
His own total production he estimates in the neighborhood of 100,000 "more than there's room for in Whatcom County, I guess". Outlets in Seattle and Berkeley have spread his pottery far and wide. Some he has seen reappear in second-hand stores, and once his signature was found on some shards of pottery that washed up on the beach."
Wouldn't Louis Mideke be surprised at how well his pottery is still selling and that it is being traded worldwide (mostly due to eBay)!
I really hope my sister's pieces of Mideke sell for a small fortune. Here is a link to what she has for sale on eBay today.
Back in 2009 I was at an estate sale. I had bought a few things and was getting ready to leave when I spotted a beautiful vase in the garage. It obviously had lived a pretty hard life and had held a lot of flowers over the years, but there was just something about it that drew me closer.
Here is a close up of the vase.
My grandmother always said you can tell quality and this was quality. Cheryl Leaf also used to say, "If it was a quality piece when it was made, it will be a quality piece 100 years from now." My grandmother only collected quality items and when I saw this vase, I just knew it could have been something I would have seen in one of her cabinets growing up.
I turned over the vase (which was marked $5) and couldn't believe it when I saw the Rookwood signature. I immediately got goosebumps.
Here is a picture of that signature.
The Rookwood Pottery signature is a Backwards R attached to a P--called their monogram signature. You can date a piece of Rookwood by looking at the candle flames above the signature and also looking for a roman numeral incised into the base.
The monogram signature was first used in 1886 (but remember the company was founded in 1880), and a flame was added around the symbol every year after until 14 flames were there and it was 1900. From 1900 on, the year was incised in the base in Roman numerals. I could tell from my signature that because there were 14 flames and a roman numeral IX (nine) that this piece was from 1909. Wow! As I write this article, that vase is exactly 100 years old!
I think my Grandma is helping me out with my writer's block this week for many reasons. The first reason is her saying that "a quality item is quality when made and will still be quality 100 years from now!" And the fact that Rookwood was started and owned by a woman named Maria Longworth Nichols. Maria began the business in an old schoolhouse that her father bought for her and she named it Rookwood after her family's country estate.
Maria was one of the high society women in Cincinnati, Ohio who in the late 1800s painted china blanks as a hobby. Rookwood started out as a sanctuary in 1880 for talented artistic women but soon turned into a well respected business. Rookwood was one of the first companies in America to be owned and operated by a woman. My grandmother was also a pioneer like Maria and was one of the first women to own and operate her own antiques store back in 1950.
After 1914, Rookwood began marking their pieces with the color or type of clay. Examples: P stood for soft porcelain, S for a special piece, Z for a matte glaze and a V for Vellum glazes. A trial piece was marked with a T and seconds were marked with an X. My piece was earlier than 1914, so did not have any of these marks.
Shape numbers and size letters were also used over the years. The style number of my vase was 952 and the Size was an E. The Sizes ranged from A being the largest to F being the smallest, so my vase was the second to the smallest size in this cylindrical shape.
Artist's ciphers (or signatures) were found on the best pieces and the cipher on mine appeared to be a CE. Could it possibly stand for Cheryl Eldonna (my grandmother's first and middle names)? Couldn't name any of my kids that middle name--that is for sure!
Anyway, the CE that I could make out turned out to really be a CS that stood for Caroline Frances Steinle (Carrie). She was one of Rookwood's famous artists (although it started out with just women, many men were eventually employed by the company). The famous Rookwood artists would sign their pieces differently. Some incised on the base like Carrie, and other signed with their initials within the pattern on the side of the piece.
Pretty fascinating isn't it?
I knew that my grandmother had only ever been able to buy two pieces of Rookwood in her 50 years of being in the business and that those two pieces stayed in her private collection. (Strange but just like Moorcroft...only two pieces) and I have already found one of each maker...I may beat her record.
My grandmother loved quality and apparently so do I. I also knew that Rookwood pieces in perfect condition could sell in the $1,000 range. As you can see from this close up shot, my vase had definitely been used to hold flowers and from the earlier photo--it had quite a bit of crazing. I knew this vase wasn't going to sell in the $1,000 range.
I did my research but didn't feel comfortable listing it without knowing more. I decided to pay for an online appraisal. There are many companies offering these now and I think they are a really neat idea. I took my photos, did my write up and sent off the info with my $11.95 Paypal payment. Then I sat around and twiddled my thumbs. Just kidding, I got back to listing other stuff on eBay but I have to admit, I couldn't wait to see what the appraiser had to say.
The appraisal came by email the next day. I had already figured out most of it and it didn't really tell me anything else about the piece. What I was really paying for was the valuation. I wanted to know what I should start this auction at and if I should use a reserve.
I was a little disappointed when the appraisal came in with the value at $100 IF IN PERFECT condition. Well, I didn't agree and that is why I wrote this article---you have to trust your gut reaction. I went with my instinct and started the auction at $99.00. I think you will all be very surprised to see what it ended up selling for.
Score! Sold for $305.00!
I still value the $12 I spent on the appraisal because it did help me establish a starting price and it made me feel confident that anything I got over the $99 starting bid price was gravy. I got quite a bit of gravy from this vase!!!
Also, the appraiser was very nice, and said that she, "would love to go shopping with me." I bet she would! And those of you who are attending Live eBay Boot Campthis year (yes it is 2011!) will get that chance to go shopping with me. Can't wait!
The appraiser also said that the pottery works is now the Rookwood Pottery Restaurant. We both agreed that this is a very sad ending to one of America's top makers of fine quality art pottery.
You see once Maria Longworth Nichols married (she became Mrs. Bellamy Storer, Jr) she lost interest in the business. Fortunately, she had hired a very talented manager, William Watts Taylor in 1883 and he was responsible for Rookwood being sold in stores like Tiffany and other fine department stores. While many of the pieces were done by famous artists like my Carrie Steinle vase, Rookwood eventually employed 225 workers that made production pieces. These are not typically worth as much as one with a well known artist's signature.
Rookwood also became very famous for their architectural tile. The Great Depression (less discretionary income) is what really brought down the company and in 1941 they filed for bankruptcy. Many people tried to save the company, but Rookwood closed their doors in 1960. The original molds were purchased by a Michigan dentist in 1983.
Even though Rookwood is no longer in business, just like my grandmother's antique store, the legacy of both women lives on.
I hope that you find a piece of Rookwood pottery in your treasure hunting!
I know that by putting this article out there, some of you are going to come across pieces by these and other amazing companies. I can't wait to hear your art pottery scores! Don't overlook antique pottery, even with crazing. When you see well-done art pottery, you get a feeling that it was made by a master. Follow your instincts!
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