This month's museum feature is a gorgeous 15-inch Iris vase by Roseville Pottery. The Iris line was first produced by Roseville in 1939, and featured a variety of items, including ewers, handled bowls, jardinieres, bookends, baskets, and more, in brown, pink (coral), and blue glazes.
Founded in Roseville, Ohio in 1890, the Roseville Pottery Company was first known for its stoneware products, including umbrella stands and flower pots. In 1898, the company purchased the Clark Stoneware Company in Zanesville, Ohio, and subsequently relocated its headquarters there. In 1900, the company created its first art pottery line, “Rozane” (a combination of “Roseville” and “Zanesville”), which was designed by art director Ross Purdy as a more affordable alternative to similar Art Nouveau pottery lines produced by competing potteries. Pieces from “Rozane” were also some of the first to bear Roseville's backstamp. The name “Rozane” would eventually come to apply to all of the art pottery lines introduced by Roseville; two of the most popular were “Rozane Egypto” and “Rozane Crystalis.”
The company continued to grow throughout the early part of the 20th century, enlarging its facilities and workforce. During its peak production, Roseville would operate four plants with 30 kilns, manned by more than 300 employees. In 1904, Roseville hired Frederick Hurten Rhead as art director. While serving in this capacity, Rhead created many stylish lines like "Mongol," "Woodland," and "Olympic," along with the Della Robbia line, one of Roseville's most sought after and highly valued patterns. Rhead left Roseville in 1908, and later went on to create the immensely popular Fiesta pattern for Homer Laughlin. Rhead's brother, Harry, took over as Roseville's art director until 1918, when Frank Ferrell moved into the role. During his tenure (which lasted until the company's close) Ferrell designed many of the lines that are most associated with Roseville Pottery - more than 90 different designs in all. These included popular lines like "Blackberry," "Dahlrose," "Futura," "Morning Glory," "Sunflower," "Wisteria," and "Freesia". Although originally rejected by Roseville, Ferrell's "Pinecone" design was eventually implemented, and became the best-selling art pottery line produced by the company.
Iris Vase Backstamp
(Click To Enlarge)
Demand for expensive art pottery had waned by the mid-20th century, and Roseville struggled to produce commercially viable products. Despite being well known for their matte-finished designs, Roseville began creating high-gloss products to meet the demand for the glossy, casual tableware designs that were popular at the time. These new product lines failed to establish enough interest to save the company, however, and in 1954, Roseville Pottery ceased production.
The Roseville Pottery "Iris" vase in our museum is not for sale, but we do have other Roseville Pottery pieces available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to ">browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities - here you'll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles. Our showroom and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you.