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VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY


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Vol. 2 Issue 6

Artus Van Briggle was born in 1869 in Felicity, Ohio. In 1886, Artus Van Briggle worked for the Arnold Fairyland Doll Company, where he painted faces on china dolls which were imported from France. Soon after, he moved to Avon Pottery until it closed in 1887. He joined Rookwood and was given a sponsorship by Rookwood where he studied in Paris from 1893 to 1896. Artus Van Briggle gained much of his art education at Beaux Arts Academy and the Julian Art School in Paris. He met his future wife, Anne, during that time. They were engaged in 1895 and were married in 1900. After a few years, Artus and Anne returned to the United States where Artus returned to Rookwood as a decorator. His quest for many years was to perfect a completely flat matte glaze. By 1898, he rediscovered the Chinese matte, or "dead", glaze, which had been lost for almost 400 years. Because of his health, he moved to Colorado in 1899 and together with his wife, Anne, in 1901, Van Briggle Pottery was founded. Van Briggle's style was influenced by the Art Nouveau schools in France and is known for his matte glaze and molded relief designs. In 1902, Frank Riddle, a former student of Anne Van Briggle and a genius in glaze experimentation, joined Van Briggle Pottery. In 1903, Ambrose Schlegel, a master potter joined the company. Because of an increasing demand for its pieces, Van Briggle Pottery expanded in size and in staff. Later, most of their pieces were made from molds, but each piece was carefully trimmed and refined before the glaze was applied. Although it has been in business almost continually since 1901, there were several periods such as: during the Great Depression, near the end of World War II, in 1919 a fire, and in 1935 a flood destroyed many of the company's records. As a result, a numerical list of Van Briggle designs contains many gaps. Sketchy records and the sheer quantity of production of tens of thousands per year caused many problems. Even though most pieces are made by molds, there are some today that are handthrown and are one of a kind. Artus Van Briggle died in 1904 and his work was continued on by his wife, Anne. Later, additional facilities were built and they expanded to tiles(1904-1920), gardenware, and commercial lines. MARKS The "AA" mark, the date, and "Van Briggle" were incised on all pieces prior to 1927 and on some pieces into the 1920's. After 1920, "Colorado Springs", or "Colorado" or an abbreviation was added. Today, dated pieces are the most sought. The "AA" mark was in use until the mid 1950's, and a few still indicated the date. Others indicated the design number. Earlier pieces had glazed bottoms, but from 1921 to 1930, the bottoms were left unglazed. From 1922 until 1929, U.S.A was added to the "Colorado Springs" designation. Pieces made from 1955 to 1968 were usually marked "Anna Van Briggle" with no "AA" mark. Some pieces after 1968 do have the "AA" mark. Van Briggle Pottery is still in production today and some new designs are being made. COLORS AND DATING Another good way to determine age of Van Briggle pieces is by color. Turquoise, blue, maroon, brown, green, and yellow (blended or combined) were used until 1930. "Mulberry" was lightened and it was renamed "Persian Rose". It remained popular until 1968. A warm brown color with a green overspray (this has been reproduced in recent years)"Mountain Craig Brown" was one of the most famous glazes. It was used from about 1915 to the mid 30's. A matte white, "Moonglow" has been in production consistently since 1950 and the turquoise matte has been used since the early years of Van Briggle. The most popular colors were: Persian Rose, Ming Blue, and Mustard Yellow. In the mid-50's, high gloss colors (brown, blue, black, and green) were introduced. The matte colors are still preferred. Still, another indication of age is the color of the clay used. Dark clays (including terra cotta) indicates a pre-1930's origin. The body of the pieces were white after 1930. For more information on the history of Van Briggle Pottery, examples of marks, and colors, click Here and Here. For some early examples of Van Briggle Pottery and novelty items, click Here and Here. REFERENCES: Official Price Guide to Pottery and Porcelain - 8th Ed. - Harvey Duke Garage Sale and Flea Market Annual - 3rd Ed. Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide - 18th Ed. Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide - 32nd Edition Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price List 1991 Van Briggle Art Pottery Website Arts and Crafts Movement - Van Briggle Pottery Collectics Antiques & Collectibles

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