Classic Pottery Bookends from Famous Makers
by: Michael O'Brien
Southeast Ohio was once the home of many famous pottery makers. Even today, names like Hull, McCoy and Robinson Ransbottom still echo through the Muskingum River Valley. Pottery bookends are among some of the most collectible pieces from these well known pottery makers.
The area around the Muskingum River Valley provided the perfect combination of natural resources that included a ready source of fine grade clay. Often found along the seams of coal that dotted the subterranean landscape, the clay gave birth to over fifty pottery manufacturers. The abundance of coal provided a great source of energy to fuel the kilns that were needed to fire the clay.
The fine quality of the clay found in and around towns like Zanesville, Crooksville and Roseville produced porcelain like quality. A combination of artistry and quality has made pottery from this area some of the most collectable in the country if not the world. Pottery bookends from southeast Ohio stand as a testament to the century of fine pottery making that continues today. Annual events are held to celebrate and commemorate the rich traditional of pottery making, drawing thousands of collectors and pottery enthusiasts.
Some pieces were created strictly for the sake of art while others, like bookends, had a functional purpose as well. In the early days of pottery making, form most definitely followed function. From bowls, pitchers and other useful pieces, scarce resources were not ordinarily expended on purely decorative pieces. This was especially true in ancient times. This is not to say that a flower vase or ewer could not be useful and decorative at the same time. During the heyday of pottery making in Ohio, decorative and commemorative pottery pieces gained in popularity.
Companies like McCoy and Hull are famous for vases and planters that doubled as bookends. How beautiful it was to have fresh cut flowers adorning the bookshelf. Many of the pottery bookends produced during the early to mid twentieth century closely followed the arts and craft movement and eventually the art deco form. McCoy pottery was also well known for producing many different themes that included various plant and leaf patterns. In addition to bookends and such, popular forms of McCoy and Hull included distinct fluted vases and deep color glazing patterns.
The lovely McCoy White Horse bookends were first produced during the nineteen forties. Porcelain white in shade, the figures depict two draft horses rearing up on their back legs. The colorful birddog bookends, also from McCoy, feature beautifully detailed depictions of hunting dogs having just retrieved some game birds.
The Roseville bush berry pattern is a very collectible bookend that, if found in perfect condition, can fetch hundreds of dollars. The Roseville Zephyr Lily bookend is a beautifully unique pattern and is highly prized among some collectors. This distinctive pattern features a yellow lily, shown on full bloom, placed in the middle of an open book. The Roseville magnolia blue is another highly prized and collectible set of pottery bookends. Set in a simple green L shape, the flowering magnolia is placed in the center with a subtle accent of sunburst surrounding the flower.
Most of the kilns that produced some of the worlds most recognizable pottery are cold, or have disappeared forever. The dozens of pottery and stoneware producers that once dotted the landscape of southeast Ohio have dwindled to a handful.
The internet has provided collectors from all over the world with the opportunity to gain an appreciation for these pieces of Americana. As with any collectible pottery bookend, the buyer must always be wary of fakes and knockoffs.
About the Author
Michael O'Brien is a writer for many popular websites.