Roseville Pottery History
The Roseville Pottery Company was founded in 1890. Roseville initially produced simple utilitarian ware such as flower pots, stoneware, umbrella stands, cuspidors, and limited painted ware. In 1900, Roseville Rozane became the first high quality art pottery line produced by Roseville.
In 1904, Frederick Rhead became art director for Roseville pottery. Rhead was responsible for the production of scarce art pottery lines such as Fudji, Crystalis, Della Robbia, and Aztec.
In the early teens as demand for the more expensive, hand-crafted art pottery declined, Roseville pottery shifted production to more commercially produced pottery. Roseville's ability to swiftly adapt to market conditions was one of the its greatest attributes as Roseville was continually able to produce the most popular patterns and styles compared to their immediate competitors such as Weller, Owens, McCoy, Peters and Reed, Zanesville Stoneware and other Zanesville area makers.
The late teens brought some change for Roseville; George Krause became the head of technical supervision and development in 1915, and founder George F. Young retired in 1918. In 1919, Frank Ferrell succeeded Harry Rhead (Frederick's brother) as art director for Roseville pottery. Frank Ferrell and George Krause combined to produce many of today's most popular Roseville pottery patterns including Baneda, Dahlrose, Rosecraft Hexagon, Ferella, Sunflower, Blackberry, Cherry Blossom, and Wisteria.
As a testament to his creativity, Ferrell released at least one new line a year until 1954, bringing his experience of quality and ingenuity from Weller and Peters and Reed potteries. Roseville pottery introduced Pinecone in 1935. Pinecone became the most successful and highest volume pattern produced during the existence of Roseville pottery. The pattern includes over 75 different shapes in blue, brown, and green.
World War II necessitated another production change for Roseville pottery. During this time period, Roseville introduced such patterns as Fuchsia, Cosmos, Columbine, White Rose, Bittersweet, and Zephyr Lily. While these patterns were still the best quality art pottery in the market at this time, it was not enough to save the company. Roseville Pottery ceased operations in 1954.
Roseville Pottery ceased operations in 1954. Throughout Roseville's days of production, its versatility and innovativeness served to keep the company at the forefront of the various decorating styles and buying public trends. Even to this day, Roseville pottery still represents the most widely known and most collectible art pottery ever produced.
Roseville Pottery Marks
The Roseville Pottery Company used many different marks during its existence. The earliest marks include the raised-relief (molded) mark on the Venitian Utility Ware, the die-impressed Rozane marks, and the wafer marks associated with the various Rozane patterns. Beginning in 1923, Roseville started using the blue ink stamp "Rv" monogram that is often seen on patterns such as Roseville Carnelian I, Rosecraft Panel, and Vintage.
Roseville patterns produced between 1927 and 1935 were marked with only paper or foil labels and sometimes with the corresponding shape number and size. One of the most common labels of this time was shield-shaped, with a black and silver legend of "ROSEVILLE POTTERY." Roseville patterns with paper or foil labels include such notable lines as Baneda, Blackberry, Cherry Blossom, Falline, Futura, Jonquil, Monticello, and Sunflower.
In 1936, Roseville started using the die-impressed trademark Roseville and the corresponding shape number and size in script. It is important to note that variations occurred in this trademark use, and, at first glance, these impressions created an optical illusion of being raised (molded) marks. Later, in 1940, Roseville started marking pieces with the more commonly seen, raised "Roseville U.S.A." along with the corresponding shape number and size. The size is expressed in inches, coupled with a quotation mark; for instance, the Roseville Lotus vase in the "L4" shape that is ten inches tall is marked with Lotus L4-10".Roseville patterns produced over a long period of time, such as Pinecone often confuse Roseville collectors, due to the variety of marks used. For example, Roseville Pinecone can be found unmarked (pieces produced before 1935); marked with the die-impressed trademark Roseville with the shape number and size (pieces produced between 1936 until 1940), or starting in 1940 marked with the raised "Roseville U.S.A." along with the shape number and size.
Roseville Pottery Artists
Roseville Pottery began hiring artists, or decorators, around the turn of the nineteenth century. Before 1898, Roseville had its various locations in Roseville, Ohio, but after building a new plant in Zanesville, the company hired Ross C. Purdy as its first official decorator. Purdy developed the Rozane line, named from the combination of the words “Roseville” and “Zanesville.” The Rozane line was similar to the other dark brown, underglaze slip pieces such as Weller Louwelsa, Owens Utopian, McCoy Loy-Nel-Art, and Rookwood standard glaze at the time, but later versions became lighter and lighter.
Other artists were quickly added at Roseville; in 1900, John Harold became designer and art director, and he created the Rozane Mara and Rozane Mongol lines. Gazo Fudji, a Japanese artist, contributed with his Rozane Fudji line, with closely related Rozane Woodland and Rozane Fujiyama. All of Fudji’s ware competed with Weller’s Dickens Ware in terms of the sgraffito, incised decorations, needle-made dots, and colored flowers. Early Roseville also included the prestigious Frederick Rhead, who worked as the art director from 1904 to 1908. Rhead created the sgraffito, Perisan designed Della Robbia line as well as the Olympia line (made of Greek mythological scenes and done with, oddly enough, black line transfer) while at Roseville. When he left in 1908, his brother Harry replaced him, and later added classic lines such as Carnelian, Donatello, and Pauleo.
Frank Ferrell was one of Roseville’s most recognized artists. Ferrell played a significant role from his start in 1918 to Roseville’s closing in 1954. Like others before him, Ferrell had worked at other Zanesville potteries, and he brought several ideas and designs from those experiences. Ferrell created the Roseville Pinecone -- perhaps the most successful line of the company -- as well as new lines during every year as art director. Roseville Pottery lines released in these years are not only numerous but varied, ranging from Baneda, Bushberry, Columbine, Dahlrose, Futura, Laurel, Monticello, Normandy, Tuscany, and Velmoss, among many others.