Roseville Pottery Company – Ohio

Roseville Pottery

Roseville Pottery Company thrived for 65 years (1890 to 1954) moving from Victorian to Arts and Crafts, from Art Deco to 50s Modern. Its unique “Roseville look” can be spotted across a room. In its day, Roseville produced over 100 innovative lines of art pottery some with as many as 65 shapes in three different colors. But the Zanesville, Ohio, manufactory was hardly innovative or unique in 1900 when it first branched out from its bread-and-butter line, commercial ceramics, into the popular and lucrative art pottery market.

Roseville’s first art pottery endeavor, Rozane, the name blending Roseville and Zanesville, shamelessly copied Rookwood’s Standard ware, Weller’s Louwelsa and J.B. Owen’s Utopian. Like Rookwood Standard, Rozane was hand-decorated, artist signed and slip painted underglaze. There were subtle differences. The Rozane mark was die impressed; Rookwood’s was incised. And early Rozane was typically golden brown or black while Rookwood Standard was more colorful: red, yellow or brown with a painted floral motif and a high gloss glaze. But similarities outnumbered differences and Rookwood’s Manager and future President William Watts Taylor labeled his competitor one of “those counterfeiters and imitators.”

Rozane ware proved popular with the general public and became Roseville’s umbrella-like trade name for a number of lines. What collectors call “Rozane light,” a blend of grey and black, salmon and blue, and other soft colors, was added in 1904 along with the Rozane Mongol, Egypto and Mara lines. To distinguish original Rozane from its newer variations, it was renamed Rozane Royal. Other new lines, Woodland (also called Fudjiyama) and Olympic (rare) were developed in 1905 when the Roseville workforce numbered 350. Most of that production power was devoted to commercial wares; art pottery was consistently the smaller side of the business. Further expansion came in 1906 with Rozane Crystalis, Fudgi and the highly collectible Della Robbia.

Designers active during the Rozane period were John J. Herold, Gazo Fudji (or Foudji or Fudjiyama), Christian Neilson and Frederick Rhead. The appeal of hand-decorated art pottery declined by 1910 and Roseville discontinued Rozane in 1920.

As early as 1930, the company marked the bottom of its pieces with shape number and height, an extremely helpful and consistent system for identifying the various Roseville lines. For example, for an item marked 709-9, the first set of numbers refers to shape, the second is its size to the nearest inch. Using a “by the numbers” guide, a collector can find that shape 709 was a vase made in Primrose, Silhouette and Pine Cone, but only in Primrose and Silhouette was its height nine inches. Which one? Roseville’s marking system coupled with photos from the database or a Roseville encyclopedia help make the final determination a comparison between two or three lines, not dozens.

Roseville shape numbers for 1930 -1954 begin with 1 and proceed through various gaps and breaks to 2117. The widest and longest gap exists between shape 1393 and 2117. Some shapes were used only once, but in various sizes. Others were resurrected in two or three different lines.

As early as 1916, shape and size data were included in reproduced Roseville catalogs, but this system is not consistent with the 1930-1954 designations.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Roseville introduced an average of two new lines a year. Other than Rozane and certain specialty items such as tea sets, pitchers, utility ware and novelty steins, these lines included:

1910-1919: Antique Matt Green, Autumn, Aztec, Blue Ware, Carnelian I, Carnelian II, Chloron, Cremo, Dogwood, Donatella, Dutch, Forget-Me-Not, Gold Traced, Holland, Holly, Indian, Ivory, Jeanette, Juvenile, Landscape, Matt Green, Medallion, Mostique, Old Ivory, Pauleo, Persian, Rosecraft, Rosecraft Black, Rozane (1917), Sylvan, Tourist, Velmoss Scroll, Venetian, Volpato.

1920-1929: Azurine, Cameo, Corinthian, Cremona, Dahlrose, Dogwood II, Florane, Florentine, Forest, Futura, Imperial, Imperial II, La Rosa, Lombardy, Lustre, Normandy, Orchid, Panel, Rosecraft Hexagon, Savona, Turquoise, Tuscany, Victorian Art Pottery.

1930-1939: Baneda, Blackberry, Bleeding Heart, Cherry Blossom, Clemana, Crystal Green, Dawn, Earlam, Falline, Ferella, Fuchsia, Iris, Ivory II, Ixia, Jonquil, Laurel, Luffa, Moderne, Monticello, Morning Glory, Moss, Orian, Peony, Pinecone, Poppy, Primrose, Russco, Sunflower, Teasel, Thorn Apple, Topeo, Tourmaline, Velmoss, Velmoss II, Windsor, Wisteria.

1940-1949: Apple Blossom, Bittersweet, Bushberry, Clematis, Columbine, Cosmos, Foxglove, Freesia, Gardenia, Magnolia, Mayfair, Ming Tree, Rosecraft Vintage, Rozane Pattern, Snowberry, Water Lily, White Rose, Wincraft, Zephyr Lily.

1950-1954: Burmese, Lotus, Mock Orange, Pasadena, Raymor, Royal Capri, Silhouette.

While a full description of Roseville marks is beyond the scope of this synopsis, three similar early markings should be noted. Roseville Rozane was often marked RPCO for Roseville Pottery Company. Rookwood had a similar, but earlier mark: R.P.C.O. for Rookwood Pottery Cincinnati, Ohio. And Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery of Roseville, Ohio, Roseville Pottery Company’s original hometown from 1890 to 1901 is marked RRPCO.

While Roseville used a variety of methods to mark its production, the longest running and possibly most common mark is Roseville U.S.A. This mark was impressed from 1932 to 1937 and in relief from 1937 to 1953. A variation in relief, R U.S.A., was also used in the latter years.

Today the company that imitated Rookwood is itself the victim of a tidal wave of foreign reproductions, forgeries and fantasy ware. New fakes are arriving on our shores everyday. Collectors should be cautioned to buy Roseville from reputable dealers who stand behind their attributions.

Reference note by p4A Contributing Editor Pete Prunkl.

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