Buffalo pottery is pottery that was initially made by the Larkin Soap Company.
Background and history
Buffalo Pottery was named after the American city it was created in. The Buffalo Pottery story began when the owner of the Larkin Soap Company decided to commission a limited edition soap dish to hype flagging sales while differentiating the brand from competitors. Over time, Buffalo Pottery products grew more popular than the soap so the same clued-up marketer who came up with the idea for the soap dish premium (Mr. Larkin) diversified his holdings and opened a pottery business. The Buffalo Pottery Company survived the requisite growing pains and never failed to produce the finest pottery in the northeast. Today, Buffalo Pottery pieces command a respectable price at auction and are eagerly sought by loyal collectors.
Early Buffalo ware
Operating nine kilns from the very beginning, the first Buffalo products were actually semi-vitreous dinnerware sets. In fact, this was the first American-based company to produce a line of Blue Willow ware, and their mastery of blue-printing china rivalled that of English factories. They also developed a line named Gaudy Willow which featured multi-coloured décor. Other early products included game, fowl and fish sets - styles popular the world over in the early 1900s. They made advertising plates and mugs as well.
Buffalo also made commemorative and historical lines, which included Roosevelt Bears (akin to the “Teddy” bear) pieces like the one shown here (see the reverse side on page 2 of this feature).Other pitchers made feature fairy tales like Cinderella or historical figures such as George Washington. Even when these pieces are stained like the example here, they can still easily sell in excess of $1,000 each due to their rarity.
By 1911, this growing pottery company employed close to 250 people. The premium products on which the company was founded continued to be popular with consumers who gladly redeemed certificates distributed with the purchase of Larkin products to obtain their Buffalo Pottery wares.
Buffalo’s most famous art pottery line by far, introduced by the first company manager Louis H. Bown, is Deldare with themes reflecting the literature, art and village life of period England.
The first line produced only from 1908 to 1909 features hand painted scenes from Cecil Aldin’s Fallowfield Hunt or English village scenes on olive green semi-vitreous china, according to an article by Harry Rinker republished online. While more ordinary tableware pieces like plates and mugs can be found in the $25-100 range, especially in the online auction arena, serving and display pieces sell in the hundreds with some topping the $1,000 mark (like the one shown here) in spite of Rinker's assessment that Deldare's popularity has waned with collectors in his 2004 article on the topic.
Scenes from William Combe’s The Three Tours of Dr. Syntax illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson were reproduced on a line called Emerald Deldare in 1911. These humorous pieces are harder to find than the earlier Fallowfield examples and can be quite expensive. Expect a rare humidor in this pattern to sell for more than $1,500 online, and perhaps more at an East Coast antique show where Buffalo Pottery is in demand.
It's easy to identify a Buffalo Pottery piece - you don't even have to turn the pottery over to look for the logo.
Whether shaped into plates or pitchers, the olive green clay is so unique, nobody has been successful in achieving any like equivalent to it's signature colourations.
A typical finished piece might have a deep teal rim, then fade into a softer, muted teal and end with a khaki centre. Buffalo designer Rea was capable of producing blues that rivalled sapphires and greens inspired by emeralds.
Classic fades to lighter colours on the body of each piece became the hallmark of the Buffalo Pottery collection. Some sported distinguishing characteristics like scalloped edges and/or painted gold rims. Every product bore the official Buffalo Pottery back stamp. As a finishing touch, each piece was hand-painted using a stencil to replicate designs on multiple pieces in a collection.
Buffalo pottery can bring substantial sums at auction, assuming that it is in very good condition. A single Buffalo jug or vase might bring $500. A Buffalo tray might bring $300. Complete sets of Buffalo table ware are rare and very collectible.