Antiques Column with Michael Dowse
In an attempt to keep this week’s missive current and without voicing an opinion, it would appear that our new Prime Minister Boris enjoys the favour of the serving President of America’s United States.
There is talk of a vigorous and exciting trade agreement. I wonder about this agreement and in particular I wonder if there will be any mention of that most collectable American pottery Newcomb Pottery.
Newcomb Pottery is essentially the products that came from the H.Sophie Newcomb Memorial College founded in 1895 with the primary aim of training women as potters, with the emphasis on ceramic decoration. It was under the artistic direction of Professor Ellsworth Woodward from the Cincinnati Art Academy and his assistant Miss Mary G. Sheerer.
What began as a type of educational experiment blossomed into a hugely successful commercial venture that gave Southern women, after the Civil War, the opportunity to both train as artists and support themselves financially. Once the women had completed the course of instruction, typically four years, they were free to continue producing and selling through the college without paying tuition fees.
Newcomb pottery was produced in the Arts and Crafts style with many shapes inspired by oriental and rustic pottery. Pieces were typically decorated with flora and fauna particularly representative of the American South such as tobacco and cotton plants or lizard and waterfowl. The early wares had a very distinctive palette of colour including yellow, green and blue with shiny luminous glazes. The most recognisable Newcomb pieces tended to be produced in a bluish green glaze. The golden age for Newcomb was the early days from 1897 to 1917 during which time the school experimented with many new glazes and won numerous awards across America and Europe. The quality of the work declined in the 1930s with the pottery eventually closing in 1940.