Cole, A. R. (Arthur Ray Cole) – North Carolina Seagrove & Rainbow Pottery

An A.R. Cole vase having a stippled black on white color. Marked with circular A.R. Cole Pottery, Sanford N.C

p4A ItemID D9861105
A North Carolina art pottery urn form vase with amphora type handles in a multi-color mottled glaze

p4A ItemID E8949610
A. R. Cole Pottery Vase, Randolph County, North Carolina, 1892-1974, dark brown glossy glaze, black runs with yellow and green highlights

p4A ItemID F7996828
A. R. Cole Pottery Pitcher, large Rebecca pitcher with mottled green, brown and yellow glaze

p4A ItemID F7975662

A. R. Cole

Arthur Ray (AR) Cole (1892 to 1974), son of Ruffin Cole and brother to Charlie (CC) Cole, worked in his father’s pottery shop in Seagrove, North Carolina, from 1915 to 1925. He left to open his own shop, Rainbow Pottery, an active commercial enterprise from 1926 to 1941. Cole established Rainbow Pottery in Steeds, North Carolina, but later moved it to Sanford on US 1, the tourist highway linking New York with Florida. He was a creative designer who perfected unusual striped, multicolored glazes and large forms; his work was the product of a vivid rustic imagination.

Kiln openings at A.R. Cole Pottery (1941 to 1974), the renamed successor to Rainbow Pottery, were typically sellouts. The classic AR Cole Pottery earthenware vessel is crystal green with a brown underglaze breaking through at various places.

In the early days of Rainbow, A.R. Cole used a non-durable ink stamp. As a consequence, most early Rainbow pieces look unmarked. Cole later changed the mark to a circular ink stamp on the base under the glaze: “RAINBOW POTTERY/HAND/MADE/SANFORD N.C.” His mark for Rainbow’s successor was “A.R. COLE POTTERY/SANFORD, N.C.” impressed in a circle on the base.

Today A.R.’s daughters Celia (born 1924) and Neolia (born 1927) continue the pottery, now named Cole Pottery. They not only stamp their wares, but also write messages on the bottom.

Reference note by Contributing Editor Pete Prunkl.

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