Weller Art Pottery History
- Weller Pottery was founded in Fultonham, OH, in 1872 by a pioneer in art Pottery, Samuel Augustus Weller.
- Early production was strictly utilitarian wares.
- In 1882 weller moved his small company to Zanesville, oh and employed 68 potters at what art pottery historians call “the first edition” of the Putnam factory.
- By 1894 weller employed 175 active potters.
- Also by this time, weller had other artisans join his company to begin producing a wide variety of art pottery.
- Despite a devastating fire in 1895, Weller pushed production every year, rebuilt the Putnam factory, and built a second pottery for manufacturing utility ware only.
- Weller produced pieces that reflected the movements of the time; Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modernism.
Growth & Expansion
- The prolific and varied production of Weller Pottery is difficult to summarize.
- While Weller employed international artists to invent new glazes and designs in secrecy, he mass produced other lines that competed well with companies like Roseville, Rookwood, Owens, and other Ohio area potteries.
- In 1904, Weller set up a massive model pottery at the St. Louis Exposition, complete with his best potters at the kiln and a 7 ½ foot Aurelian vase for display.
- Weller Pottery took the Gold Medal in the Arts Category that year. By 1915, Samuel Weller had established Weller Pottery as the world’s largest art pottery company that reflected the Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco movements of the time.
- The 1920s was a harried time for Weller Pottery, which transitioned from a sole proprietorship (i.e., Samuel Weller) to a corporation.
- A third factory was added to the company in 1924, where artist John Lessel created several new pottery lines, before Samuel Weller passed away in 1925.
- Weller’s nephew Harry Weller became the president of the company, which underwent another blow from a destructive fire in its new, third factory in 1927.
- Weller Pottery turned more and more to commercial production and tile making and more utility items like beer mugs (only available after the repeal of the Prohibition).
- In the mid-1930s, the first and second factories closed as well, and under the management of several different presidents of the company, cooking utensils and inexpensive ornamental ware was made in the third pottery.
- Unfortunately, Weller Pottery closed completely in 1948.
Weller Pottery Marks
- Identifying all the trademarks of Weller Pottery, as well as the order of what marks were used when, has been no straightforward task for art pottery researchers and collectors.
- Perhaps the numerous artists over the years, coupled with mass employment of potters and fire damage to the kilns, are at least partly to blame for the inconsistencies seen on Weller vases.
- It is commonly believed the hand incised trademark was used prior to 1900 and the circular stamp trademark was used after 1900.
- Weller Louwelsa can be found with a hand-incised Weller mark or with the circular seal mark. The half circle seal trademark was used on Louwelsa vases between 1896 and the early 1900s.
- In general from 1896 to the end of the first decade of the 1900s, most Weller Pottery was marked with a half circle seal that included the line name on top (in a half circle) with the straight “Weller” below.
- Around 1910, the standard Weller logo was changed to a double circle trademark with the pattern around the top of the circle and Weller in the bottom of the circle.
- This logo was used on lines such as Louwelsa, Art Nouveau, Floretta, and Etna.
- Also used between the late 1900s and 1925 was die stamp logo WELLER in block letters. At least two sizes of this WELLER block letter die stamp can be found on Weller vases from this time period.
- Other popular Weller marks from the 1920s include the half-kiln and full-ink stamps.
- The full-kiln trademark was uses on vases from the middle 1920s, while the half-kiln mark was used on Weller pottery from the late 1920s.
- Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, labels were used to mark Weller pottery. The labels range from a circular paper design, ink stamps, to a black and silver foil.
- Some of the labels were preprinted with the company and line name and had spaces on the bottom for the stock number and price.
- Lines such as the Coppertone, Flemish, Hudson, Sabrinian and Silvertone are most known to carry such paper ‘fill in price’ label.
Rooting Out a Fake
- When trying to sus out a fake weller, find the exact same piece in one a guide or online and compare the features.
- Compare the glazes.
- If the original is a matte glaze and the one you’re looking at is glossy, you must ask yourself why.
- Typically, the original pottery is only produced in one glaze.
- While the glaze may be a vivid green in the book, the piece you are looking at may look flat and faded, or the original may be soft and matted while the one you’re looking at appears gaudy and bright.
- The accents and highlighted colors should be applied rather then slopped on, and the crazing should look natural, not even and uniform.
- Measure your piece.
- Not everyone will measure things the exact same way, but if the original Weller pieces you have researched are 8 1/2 inches high and your piece is 8 inches high, that’s a big difference. The one you are looking at is not original.
- Weigh your Weller pieces.
- The original pottery was made from clay from Ohio. Today the reproductions are imported from China.
- The difference in materials and the process used to create the pottery creates a difference in the pottery’s weight, with the copies being lighter than the originals.
- Also, remember that if a piece has been around for more than 60 years it will show some rubbing on its base where it has been sitting.
- But don’t be fooled because someone can grind the base down in dirt and beat it up a little.
- Look at the detail on your pottery.
- The detail of an original handcrafted object, though it was produced in quantity before 1948, does not compare to an object that is mass produced in modern times in an emerging market.
- The incising detail will be deeper and more defined on the original, while the fake may be smooth and filled with glaze.
- The original piece is a piece of art compared to one made quickly to fool the average eye.
Aurelian & Louwelsa
Weller Art Pottery Sicard Line
Weller Pottery LaSa Line
Weller Pottery Lamar Line
Weller Pottery Coppertone Line