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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Selection of Roseville items offered for sale. Prices ranged from $325 to $1,300. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Art Galleries
The first American pottery companies of any real longevity started in Ohio. Some of the purest veins of clay known were found erupting through the fields and topsoil of 19th century Ohio.

There was enough clay to produce stoneware jugs and redware containers for local settlers plus handle all the needs of those heading westward.

The clay industry transformed local farmers into skilled potters during the winter, and these craftsmen filled all the flatboats they could fill with stoneware headed for New Orleans.

Bigger markets and more cash waited. Anyone with money invested in some form of the pottery business.

Zanesville, Ohio, was known as “Clay City” and it was here in 1891 The Roseville Pottery Company started. By 1900, the company entered the competitive art pottery market, and developed its first art line, Rozane. The name came from the firm’s title and location.

Rozane was similar to its competitor’s, The Rookwood Pottery Company’s, Standard line, and featured dark backgrounds with a slip-painted underglaze of birds, animals, nature studies, American Indians, and portraits.

Art pottery took the whole conversation of stoneware to the next level. Now people were exposed to stoneware that was not only functional, but also beautiful. Rozane was presented in one promotion as “Hollywood Ware.” Small vases and bowls sold for $5-to-$12. Large pieces retailed at $50-$90.

Commercial lines like Rozane were very profitable. The Rozane Egypto art line came on the market in 1904. Egypto was modeled after examples of Egyptian pottery and featured a matte-glaze in soft shades of green. Another line, Rozane Mongol, a high-gloss oxblood red pottery, resembling Chinese vase forms, captured 1st. prize at The St. Louis Expedition in 1904.

New lines were continually added during the second decade of the century until the plant closed some 40-years later. Today pottery from every stage of Roseville production is collectible. But the quality of artwork varies. Fine detail and good color make a big difference in value.

On Nov. 8, 1998, Cincinnati Art Galleries in Cincinnati held a Rookwood and Keramics auction offering a selection of Roseville pottery.

“Two popular lines in Roseville right now are Sunflower (1930) and Baneda (1933),” says Riley Humler, sale coordinator. “The glazes are great, the colors are super and you can own an entire grouping without having to buy 100 pieces.” The Baneda line offered 45 examples, while the Sunflower pattern featured 35.

“Roseville pieces should be in good shape. Next comes the quality of the mold, glaze and color,” he adds. “You’ll find the good, bad and indifferent in every line.”

A 15¼-inch high, green clematis vase, embossed “Roseville U.S.A.,” sold for $300. A 6-5/8-inch, blue pinecone fan-shaped vase, embossed “Roseville U.S.A.,” brought $250.

An 8-1/8-inch high, blue apple blossom ewer, stamped “Roseville U.S.A.,” realized $250. An 8¼-inch, mock-orange, green basket, impressed “909-8” U.S.A., sold for $200.

People really enjoy hunting for Roseville pottery. It’s the type of collectible you can still find at local garage sales and auctions at reasonable prices.

“It’s a fun disorder,” says Humler. “It keeps you out of trouble.”

Q. Awhile back you provided information about old radios. I was remiss in saving the column. Could you please talk about radios again? Leon Miller, Pittsburgh.

A. “I don’t hold much with furniture that talks,” said one comedian about early radios. Back then radio reception was poor and people had to use headphones and constantly adjust the cat’s whisker on the crystal set to hear.

Most collectible radios date back to the beginning of commercial broadcasting, on Nov. 2, 1920 at station KDKA in Pittsburgh. On that day, the radio carried news about President Warren Harding’s election.

The most desirable radios are probably from the 1920s and early-‘30s. Families would gather around these sets to listen to Will Rogers, Jack Benny, Fred Allen and Eddie Cantor. The cutoff date for collecting seems to be around 1947 with the invention of the transistor.

That’s when the radios most of us are used to seeing came into vogue. One of the world’s oldest historical radio collector organizations is the Old Timer’s Bulletin, 59 Main Street, Holcomb, N.Y. 14469.

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