Van Briggle PotteryBy

Van Briggle Pottery - Current Shapes, Marks and Glazes Similar to Vintage Pieces

Most collectibles have some means of identification–factory mark, catalog shape, reference books, specific finishes or color. Van Briggle Pottery, however, often requires a close examination of more than just one characteristic.

That's because a number of shapes, marks and colors produced in vintage Van Briggle Pottery are still being produced today. The current Van Briggle mark, for example, is virtually the same as those used since 1920. Unless you have a pre-1920 piece, which was usually dated, you really can't be too sure if your piece was made in 1920, 1960 or 2000.

Therefore, before you can date a piece, you must consider which colors and glazes appeared on which shapes throughout the years. It's obviously beyond the scope of this article to show all the differences in all the shapes so we'll look at five shapes that illustrate the problems in dating Van Briggle.

History of Van Briggle Pottery

Van Briggle pottery has been made continuously since 1901 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was founded by Artus Van Briggle. Before moving to Colorado for health reasons in 1899, Van Briggle was a major decorator for Rookwood Pottery in Ohio. The Van Briggle Pottery Company built its success on soft dull (matte) glazes.

After Artus died in 1904, the business was taken over by his wife Anna and was renamed the Van Briggle Company. The business was reorganized again in 1910 as Van Briggle Pottery and Tile Company. Anna's involvement ended about 1912. Various managers and owners ran the business through the 1920s. In 1931, the business was renamed again as Van Briggle Art Pottery which it remains to this day.

DESIGNS AND GLAZES

The five shapes we'll look at are: 5″ Swirl Leaf bowl; 8½″ Columbine Vase; 8½″ Lily Bud Vase/Candlestick; 3″ Butterfly bowl; and 4″ Philodendron Leaf bowl.

The Swirl Leaf Bowl can be seen in the 1950s brochure listed as Design 150 and called "Blooming Tulip," priced at $6.95 each. The height was given at 5 1/2″ and width at 6″. All pieces were available in choice of Turquoise, Persian Rose, or Moonglo (white). The swirl leaf bowl is not seen in the 1977 catalog but has been produced since then.

The Columbine Vase appears on an advertising brochure from the 1940s. No price is given. Also, no mention was made of the glazes available. However, the vase does appear in the 1977 catalog, listed as No. 505, "The Columbine Vase, height 7½" and available in Turquoise Ming or Moonglo, priced at $8.50 each. Let me add that although the catalog does not state that the item was available in Persian Rose, I was able to purchase these items in Persian Rose in 2000 just by asking. If you look on the current web site or in the current catalog, you may not find Persian Rose available as a glaze. However, the glaze might available. When asking for Persian Rose in 2000, I was charged a 20% premium above the regular cost of $65.00 each.

The Lily Bud Vase/Candlestick appears in the 1950s brochure as Design 262 and is called "Bird of Paradise," listed at $3.95 each. It is advertised to hold a candle and flowers at the same time. It is also available in Turquoise, Persian Rose or Moonglo. The No. 262, "Bird of Paradise" is listed in the 1977 catalog as 8″ high and available in Turquoise Ming or Moonglo, selling for $5.50. In 2000, the item sold for $35.00 each.

The Butterfly Bowl is pictured in the 1907 catalog and is listed as 684 at 3″ high. To quote from the catalog, "The color range is wide and very suggestive of Colorado, reflecting with equal fidelity to nature the brilliant turquoise of the sky, and the reds, grays, browns, yellows, blues and purples which exist in striking effect in the crags and canyon walls, and in the more subtle tones of the incomparable dawn and twilight of the plains." This shape is also listed in Scott Nelson's book as Design # 684 produced from 1900 to 1912. It is not pictured in the 1950 brochure but does appear in the 1977 catalog that was mailed to this author. It was called the No. 684 Butterfly Bowl, available in Turquoise Ming (not Ming Turquoise as is the current use) or Moonglo which was white.

The Philodendron Leaf Bowl appears in the 1950s brochure as Design 847, an example "of eyelet embroidery in clay." Height is given as 4". This item did not appear in the 1977 catalog but was made in 2000 and sold for $65.00 each.

MODERN GLAZES

The Lily Bud Vase/Candlestick was available in 2000 in the following glazes: Persian Rose, Lilac Blue, Ming Turquoise and Dusty Rose. Most colors are self explanatory, but additional information is necessary to explain the highlights found on these glazes. Generally, Persian Rose and Lilac Blue are companion glazes. For example, Lilac Blue highlights Persian Rose, and Persian Rose highlights Lilac Blue. The same combination can be found with Ming Turquoise and Dusty Rose with each highlighting the other. However, there are times that a Ming Turquoise glaze will be highlighted with a type of blue, unlike Lilac Blue.

MARKS

A variety of marks are found on the new Van Briggle made today. A sample of six typical marks are shown below. All marks are hand incised in the wet clay with a stylus. A seventh with ink stamped markings is shown on this page in Fig. 9. Unfortunately, with the exception of the ink stamp, none of the new marks give a clear indication of their recent age. Many new marks could easily be confused with very similar marks found on vintage pieces.

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Mark 1: Typical blocked double A that is found on all pieces. This particular logo has a Roman Number IV, initials I. S. and a "2." These have been attributed to finisher's marks. Notice that Van Briggle, itself, is in a script with an upper case "V" and "B;" however, the remaining letters of Van Briggle are in lower case. Also, "Van" is one line while "Briggle" is on the other. "COLO SPGS" are capitalized with end punctuation.

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Mark 2: Typical blocked double A. This logo has the Roman Numeral V and either "11" or the Roman Numeral II. Also, VAN BRIGGLE is all capitalized, and COL. SPRGS. are also in caps with end punctuation. Note that an addition "R" is added to SPRGS than is found in Mark 1.

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Mark 3: Typical blocked double A. CO. is placed in the upper left. It either stands for Colorado or someone's initials. COLO. SPRINGS is still different from the other marks shown. After COLO., there is a period, and the entire word is spelled out for SPRINGS. VAN BRIGGLE is all in caps, RJT has signed his/her initials, and the number 11 or the Roman Number II is placed at the bottom right.

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Mark 4: Typical blocked double A. VAN BRIGGLE all in caps. COLO SPGS is abbreviated without end punctuation. COLO is again placed beneath the city and has no end punctuation. A "C-P" is at the bottom.

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Mark 5: This mark appears on the vase in Fig. 10. This piece was thrown after the potter had completed his day's work and is an "original". The word ORIGINAL is below the blocked double A. Note that there is a period after "Colo." but not after Spgs. The initials BWL are centered at the bottom.

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Mark 6: Typical blocked double A. A Roman Number IV is on the left, and the number 2 is on the right. VAN BRIGGLE capitalized on the same line followed by COLO. SPRINGS with a period following COLO. Again, after the city, one finds CO. with a period. Initials RJT at bottom.

REFERENCES

There are three references available to help you date your Van Briggle. Scott Nelson and others published the 1986 edition of A Collectors Guide to Van Briggle Pottery. Richard Sasicki and Josie Fania authored The Collector's Encyclopedia of Van Briggle Art Pottery: An Identification and Value Guide, 1993; and finally Carol and Jim Carlton's Collector's Encyclopedia of Colorado Pottery: Identification and Values, 1994.

All three books offer excellent information. Nelson has given the collector a detailed accounting of logos that have been used from early Van Briggle to current production. He also has included the "Catalogue of Van Briggle Designs" which presents 766 authenticated Van Briggle designs from the period 1900 to 1912. Sasicki and Fania have attempted to give a detailed chronological listing of Van Briggle products, with color photos and descriptions. Lastly, Carl and Jim Carlton have included an invaluable two pages from a 1950s Van Briggle catalog or brochure which gives us definite proof that some items produced in the 1950s are currently being produced. A 1977 company catalog also highlights several items produced again today.

Ron Lindsey is a long time Van Briggle collector and dealer in antiques from Pasadena, Texas.

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New Van Briggle Pottery continues to be made in the same shapes first developed almost 100 years ago. Marks and glazes on new pieces are also virtually identical to vintage pieces. The marks and pieces shown here are all from production in the year 2000.

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Fig. 1 New 4″ Philodendron Leaf bowl

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Fig. 2 Typical mark found on new pieces is similar to marks on vintage pieces.

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Fig. 3 New 5″ Swirl Leaf bowl

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Fig. 4 A new pair of Lily Vase/Candlestick pieces in Ming Turquoise.

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Fig. 5 New Columbine vase.

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Fig. 6 New Daffodil vase.

History of the Butterfly bowl

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Fig. 7 Currently available Butterfly bowl, $35.

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Fig. 8 Typical current mark found on the new Butterfly bowl shown above.

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Fig. 9 There is no question about the age of this mark. The ink stamped VB 100 definitely never appeared on a vintage piece.

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Fig. 10 Piece made after regular working hours, 5″ tall. Marked ORIGINAL along with regular blocked double A. See mark #5.

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Fig. 11 Calla Lily 10″ vase in current production.

Van Briggle Pottery is no longer in operation.