Camark Pottery was an art pottery founded by Jack Carnes in 1924 in Camden, Arkansas.
The firm made a variety of glazed wares, from tiny astrays and egg cups to enormous urns.
Camark ranges include pitchers, bowls, console sets, tableware, flower pots, tea sets, salt and pepper shakers and decorative wall plaques as well as novelty and collectible items.
Many pieces were hand painted by talented ceramic artists.
John Lessell was appointed to director of Camark in 1926. From his previous employer, Weller and Owens, Lessell brought many skills, styles and designs.
Production at Camark ceased in 1983.
The first pottery items produced by Camark under John Lessel are known among collectors as “Lessellware”. Lessellware was produced out of local, Arkansas clay from 1926. Although John Lessell died suddenly that very same year, the 12 forms, and many glazes and designs Lessell had introduced remained in manufacture.
Lessell’s 12 original pottery forms proved instantly popular among the American art pottery buying public. Largely hand-crafted and hand-decorated, Camark garnered admiration in both creative and commercial circles.
In order to meet with demand, Camark began producing cast mould pottery, which was necessarily less intricate as well as being less labour intensive.
Camark reinvented and redesigned its wares in order to meet with new trends in ceramics and design. Camark pottery was produced in a variety of colours and forms and remains in great demand today.
The finest examples of Camark pottery command substantial sums at auction. Collectors should consider age, condition and eye-appeal before they make a purchase.
Fake Camark pottery is of a substantially lower quality than genuine Camark – it is likely to be lighter, less expertly glazed and moulded and poorly decorated. Those new to Camark collecting are advised to familiarise themselves with the firm’s creative output before they make a purchase and to always buy from a reputable dealer.
Camark and some other Arkansas potteries as well as Texas potters used a white to ecru clay. They used stickers and various artist marks to identify their wares. Collectors should look out for Lessell-signed wares.
A Camark crackle vase sold for $350 at Belhorn Auction Services in July 2008.
A Carmark ivory crackle glaze vase sold for $160 at Belhorn Auction Services in April 2008.
A mint Camark ball pitcher sold for $50 at Belhorn Auction Services in August 2007.
A Camark floral vase sold for $55 at Belhorn Auction Services in July 2008.
Two Camark figural pig bottles sold for $1,100 at Cowan’s Auctions in June 2008.
A Camark Jeanne vase sold for $800 at Belhorn Auction Services in July 2007.
A John Lessell Camark scenic vase sold for $750 at Humler and Nolan in November 2007.