The Roseville Pottery Company began producing utility lines more than 100 years ago in Roseville, Ohio. In 1898 the company moved to modern facilities in Zanesville, and entered the art pottery market in the early 1900s to compete with manufacturers such as Rookwood.
Roseville's first art line, Rozane, concentrated on darker backgrounds with painted artwork featuring portraits, nature scenes, florals and animals -- all popular themes incorporated into early 20th century pottery. The company's Cremo line, which is extremely rare and valuable, is said to have been created using Rozane blanks.
Some of the subsequent Roseville lines emulated low relief pottery of the ancient Egyptians and the high-gloss deep red vessels of the Chinese. Later patterns, decorated with designs inspired by nature, are more commonly found by collectors today.
Although prices seem to have stabilized somewhat during recent years, shoppers often have to pay dearly to add to a Roseville collection these days. In fact, folks starting collections many years ago often find it hard to spend the money it takes to grow a Roseville collection now.
Quality varies from piece to piece with most Roseville wares. Since artists decorated each one by hand, the talent of the individual came into play with each item produced. Artist signed pieces, as with many porcelain and pottery collectibles, often bring higher prices than unsigned pieces. The most talented and recognized names command the most attention from experienced collectors. Pieces with strong mold shapes are also desirable.
However, most all genuine Roseville pieces are considered collectible and even the most common still hold some value these days. In excellent condition they regularly sell for $50 or more through online auctions and in antique shops. The Pinecone, Wisteria and Sunflower patterns are quite popular, and often sell for hundreds per piece when they can be located in very good to excellent condition. Roseville umbrella stands, floor vases and jardinieres with matching pedestals are increasingly harder to locate at reasonable prices and can sell for well over $1,000 today in certain patterns, including the Cremo and Tourist (also referenced as Touring). Several pieces in the Art Deco influenced Futura line can sell in the $5,000-10,000 range even when they're not in perfect condition.
Learn more about values: Roseville Online Price Guide
Identifying Roseville Fakes and Reproductions
If Roseville has recently caught your eye, keep in mind that reproductions from China have been showing up in the pottery market for quite some time now. Although avid Roseville collectors easily recognize most of these fakes, beginners might find them a bit more difficult to distinguish.
Tips for detecting Roseville repros:
- The coloring on repros is often close to originals, but not quite right.
- Decor on repro pieces often looks amateurish and sloppy.
- The U.S.A. is often missing from the raised mark, or can only be faintly seen, but keep in mind that some genuine older marks did not include USA.
- The way the "R" is shaped is often vastly different than that seen on genuine marks.
- The glaze on repro pieces sometimes feels rough and unfinished in comparison to the smoothness of old Roseville.
Inexperienced antique dealers sometimes find themselves taken in by Roseville fakes and may unknowingly pass them on to collectors. Reproduction Roseville regularly shows up in antique malls and at flea markets across the country so it's wise to exercise caution on items priced exceptionally low. Not that you won't find a sleeper here and there, but prudence will save you money and grief in the long run.
Before starting a collection, the best way to avoid a fake out is to look at as many authentic pieces as possible. Learn the distinguishing characteristics first hand, and if possible, take a really close look at a piece you know to be a reproduction. Ask an expert dealer or collector to point out the differences between old Roseville and new imports.
Learning More About Roseville
Guides on the subject, like Introducing Roseville Pottery (Collector Books - now out of print) by Mark T. Bassett or Warman's Roseville Pottery: Identification and Price Guide by Denise Rago (Krause Publications), can be located for sale online or in your local library. They offer more information on Roseville history and useful tips for identifying, dating, and valuing this type of earthenware.