Lonhuda Pottery is a type of collectible art pottery created under Samuel A Weller in Ohio.
Samuel A Weller founded his first one-man, one-room pottery in 1872, in his home town of Fultonham, Ohio. The pottery produced a variety of red earthen wares, including umbrella stands, flower pots and jardinières. Weller dug his own clay, threw and fired his own pieces and then sold them locally, from door to door.
By 1888, demand for Weller’s pottery was large enough to warrant a move to larger premises in Zanesville.
During the mid-1890s, Weller bought an art pottery in Steubenville, Ohio, named Lonhuda. Weller liked the slip decorated Lonhuda wares designed by the pottery’s previous owner William Long, and, seeing potential profitability, transferred production to his plant in Zanesville. Weller would rename Lonhuda, Louwelsa after his daughter Louise.
Lonhuda, or Louwelsa wares include vases and other decorative objects. Generally, these attractive wares boast a dark background decorated with flowers or portraits which appear frozen beneath a glistening overglaze.
Roseville and Rookwood were both also producing popular art pottery during this period. In order to stay ahead of the curve, Weller employed talented artists and designers, working alongside them to come up with new designs.
Art director from 1895, Charles Babcock Upjohn developed Dickensware, which was put into production at the turn of the century. Initially, Dickensware featured scenes lifted from the works of Charles Dickens, but the range was enlarged, and came to include native Americans and subjects inspired by the natural world.
Another of Weller’s talented employees, Jaques Sicard, who had previously worked with Clement Massier, introduced the Sicardo range – lustre decoration hand-painted over an iridescent background. Sicard, who specialised in producing iridescent majolica, left the pottery in 1907 having never divulged his formula or methods.
Brother of Charlotte Rhead, Frederick, also worked alongside Weller, contributing several new lines, including the tube-lined Jap Birdimal, L'Art Nouveau and an extension of the Dickensware range.
Austrian Rudolf Lorber introduced figures to the pottery. Lorber also excelled in embossing techniques and was responsible for Weller’s Zona, Brighton, and Coppertone lines, as well as theArt Deco Hobart from the 1920s. One Zanesville native who worked closely with Lorber was Dorothy England Laughead, who collaborated with him on a series of large-scale ceramic animals that were used as decorative touches in gardens.
During the 1920s, Hudson vases were among Weller’s best sellers. Today, Hudson vases are considered among the finest examples of hand-painted production pottery in the early 20th century. Simultaneously, Weller produced several lines that used relief on their surfaces to dramatic effect, from the birds and daisies of the Knifewood line to the floral decorations of Marvo.
Other artists who served at the Weller Pottery include Gazo Fujiyama from Japan, Thomas Wheatley and Frank Ferrell from the US, Albert Haubrich and John Lessell from Germany. Lessell introduced the famous LaSa range in the early 1920s as well as the Chengtu, Lamar and Marengo lines.
Samuel Weller died in 1925. At the time of his death the company was at the peak of its production and had three factories employing 600 hands. Harry Weller, Samuel's nephew took over as president but died himself seven years later. The depression of the 1930s had a severe effect on the company forcing closure of two of the three plants. Production finally ceased in 1948.
Dickensware, Bedford, Cretone, Hudson, Rhead Faience, Silvertone and Xenia are among the pottery’s most collectible lines.
Dickens Ware, paying homage to the characters of Charles Dickens, was designed by Charles Upjohn who worked for Weller from 1895-1904. Although the line initially only features scenes from Dickens’ fictions, the line gradually expanded to include subjects inspired by the natural world as well as native American characters.
Bedford wares were created in the arts and crafts tradition. The generally feature a single colour and are decorated with raised designs.
Cretone wares were among the final wares produced by Weller which required freehand artistic input. Introduced in 1934, Cretone wares feature a sparse, stylised design typical of the art deco period. A leaping gazelle is a frequent decorative element.
Sicard wares are iridescent and art nouveau-inspired. If decorated, natural forms are used: coiling vines, leaves, blooms and even peacock feathers were all used. Look for shimmering purple, green and silver wares in sinuous forms.
Hudson was among the firm’s most commercially successful lines. Hudson wares feature hand-painted floral designs against a muted background comprising both blue and cream hues. Scenic and portrait vases were produced in the Hudson mould in smaller quantities. Most Hudson vases are signed.
Around 1915, Lorber began to create a series of embossed naturalistic lines which included Brighton, Muskota, Woodcraft, Forest, Baldin, Flemish, Glendale and others, ending with Coppertone in 1929. Lorber also developed Ivory (1910),Zona (1911), and the 1927 Art Deco lines Hobart and Lavonia. Lorber's assistant and pupil, Zanesville native Dorothy England Laughead developed the Silvertone and Chase lines in the late 1920s, and she and Lorber both worked on the Garden Animals, large figurals for outdoor use.
Other Weller pottery
The vase is the form most heavily associated with Weller. However, the pottery also made many other collectible items, including fish bowl bases, flower frogs and wall pockets, as well as Coppertone figurals, such as frogs and lily pads.
The firm also designed and made the controversial “mammy” cookie jar – which is known as Watermelon Mammy by collectors, as it is modelled on a stereotypically matronly black woman clutching a watermelon. Watermelon Mammy is highly sought after by rafts of collectors; cookie jar and Weller collectors jostle with collectors of African Americana over the limited supply. Another popular, and valuable, vase that departs from the norm is the Lydia figural depicting a woman holding her gown out in a draped fashion. This piece was made in a variety of colours.
Weller marked its wares in a number of different ways, including some early marks that included the name of the line. Both circular trademarks bearing the Weller name and incised hand-written marks are appropriate for the time period from the late 1880s to the late teens.
Many pieces from the 1900 to 1925 production years feature a Weller incised stamp in block letters. The early 1900s also found pieces designed by English potter Frederick Rhead signed "Weller Rhead Faience,” with faience referring to a type of smooth, glossy tin-glazed pottery.
Other pieces saw the name Weller written largely in fancier letters.
Prices for Weller Pottery can vary as widely as the items the company produced over the years. The later molded pieces made from 1935 through 1948 can often be found as inexpensively as $12-35 apiece depending on the color and décor.
Find a Weller Cretone, Sicard, or Xenia vase and the price could easily top $500 at auction if the item is in excellent condition. Those popular aforementioned Hudson vases easily sell for hundreds as well, as can the Coppertone figural frogs and lily pad pieces along with Art Nouveau umbrella stands and a host of other early Weller wares.
You’ll find the Watermelon Mammy cookie jar and most of the Weller jardinières with pedestal bases selling for $1,000 plus on the secondary market unless you happen upon a real bargain.
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