Rago Arts & Auctions: Highlights


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Rago Arts & Auctions recently updated and enhanced their website, offering a more complete catalog of available "passed lots" - items not sold at previous auctions - as well as memorable highlights from recent auctions. Some amazing stuff, there; kind of neat to see price records for really excellent examples.

The most recent Early 20th Auction was this past Friday, October 1 2010. Some highlights are pictured above.

handmade house number tiles

My wife recently gave me a beautiful house number plaque from Ravenstone tiles in their very nice Ginkgo design. It looks terrific mounted on our stucco home, and I definitely recommend them. In fact, all of Ravenstone's stuff is especially pretty, and they're very much dedicated to the Arts & Crafts movement - much of their new stock is influenced either by pre-Raphaelite / English A&C or the Japanese / US Craftsman aesthetic.

Another company making similar tiles, although a bit more regular and without the charming softness / handmade quality of the Ravenstone pieces, is Rocheford Handmade Tile in Minneapolis. Their Craftsman line includes not only numbers in several type styles, but a bunch of nice odds & ends that make great trim or borders for the numbers. I don't think they offer custom pieces the way Ravenstone does, but if you want a more regular, angular look, you might want to check them out.

Avery Pottery & Tileworks, Seagrove NC

Tile Husband and wife Blaine and Laura Avery are ceramic artists in Seagrove, North Carolina, just 45 minutes south of Greensboro. Strongly influenced by the Arts & Crafts Movement and the organic forms of Art Nouveau, their urns, plates and teapots are reminiscent of the shapes of Grueby and Roseville. Both potters frequently rely on both natural clay tones and the blues and greens so popular in A & C; the colors are especially vivid in their tile work.

Their shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and they have regular kiln openings each spring and fall.

Panama Pottery in Sacramento, CA

Sacramento's Panama Pottery has been producing simple, Arts & Crafts inspired decorative pottery and a huge range of plain old terracotta (in dozens of shapes and sizes) for many generations. My friend Michael Kressner recently visited their shop and took some terrific photographs:

stuff i like: ceramic mantel clock, $150

000_0789 In addition to many lovely vases & various ceramic lamps, Seattle's Craftsman Studios also sells this very pretty, hand-painted and certainly unique ceramic mantel clock for $150.

Craftsman Studios is the name of ceramicist Dean Hudgin's labor of love. His work is sold directly, as well as through The Antique Lighting Company in Seattle and Oak Park Home & Hardware in Oak Park IL.

click on the image for a super-sized version

Arts & Crafts ceramic tile on ebay

three tiles

I've been getting lots of emails asking for more links to interesting items for sale - on Craigslist, Ebay, at auction or wherever. So this week and next I'll be posting a lot more like this.

Today, pretty A&C tiles on Ebay - some in bulk, some in frames, some individually:

Gladding, McBean

The firm of Gladding, McBean has produced materials for hundreds - and probably thousands - of beautiful historic homes here in California. The Greene brothers used their stuccoed planters at the Gamble House, and Bernard Maybeck used their roof tiles, chimney tops, planters and more in both his residential, civic and commercial projects. While it is now a division of Pacific Coast Building Products and no longer independently-owned, they are still making the clay and terra cotta items they've become known for since 1874. Today they are the only remaining maker of ornamental hand-made terra cotta in this country.

The company is still going strong today, producing those items and all sorts of architectural terra cotta work, fire flashed clay floor tiles, and a whole range of garden pottery. Their website has a number of photo galleries; their garden pottery, especially the big oil jars, are beautiful, as are the tiles and decorative chimney tops, the perfect finishing touch to any A & C home.

Cole Pottery in Sanford, North Carolina

Booth Mountain Retreat is a family blog "about establishing a family homestead outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina." They "started with a two-story timber frame coach house and later will build an attached 1909 Gustav Stickley-designed main house." I enjoy their articles on various aspects of timber frame construction, but was especially struck by something last week - an account of the family's visit to Cole Pottery in Sanford NC.

Whenever I head into Sanford I need to stop at Cole Pottery. It is just before you get to Sanford and it is a great place. It is run by Neolia and Celia Cole and Neolia's grandson Kenneth George. Today Neolia and Kenneth were there. It is an old building with dirt floors covered with tar paper. The exterior is cover in vinyl siding and it is not showy. They have a back room that they are usually throwing pots. Neolia will usually have a cigarette going and Kenneth is quietly working.

Cole Pottery and its family owners was also the subject of New Life, a 55-minute documentary made by Jim Sharkey and distributed by folkfilms.com.

McIntyre Tile Company


Slight hyperbole aside ("(t)he nation's premier source of high-quality hand-made ceramic tiles" - you can't fault them for being proud of their product!), Healdsburg's McIntyre Tile Company does make some of the prettiest A&C tile available anywhere. This should come as no surprise since Bob McIntyre, the founder and CEO of the firm, started his career at Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, where the worlds of art ceramics and mass-produced commercial-grade products intersected.

Their 250 glaze colors come in simple primary palettes as well as more specialized series, including a line modeled after the colors of California's own take on the Arts & Crafts movement. Their mosaic tiles come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, from 2" square all the way to 4" x 12" and 6" square sizes, one-cut corners, octagons and hexagons.

Coastal Artists Ebay Store

Designer Rick Rivadeneyra and ceramicist Suzanne Sollenne are California natives who sell their tiles and other work through the Coastal Artists ebay store. Their relief and other types of tiles are unmistakably Arts & Crafts, from subject material to glaze. They currently have several dozen different designs available, from relief tiles in striking wooden frames to borders and multi-tile friezes. The stock changes almost every day, so keep an eye on their site!

Greg Myroth's artpotteryblog.com

Justartpottery from our friend Greg Myroth, owner of JustArtPottery.com:

We are pleased to announce the recent start-up of ArtPotteryBlog.com. Just Art Pottery has been selling quality arts and crafts ceramics such as Teco, Grueby, and Marblehead as well as collectible American art pottery such as Roseville, Rookwood, Weller, and more online since 1997. ArtPotteryBlog.com is designed to provide current news on the art pottery market such as auction results; related arts and crafts events and pottery show schedules; related industry trends and issues; as well as collector interviews. The site will also serve as an information source on a variety of topics related to antique and contemporary American and European art pottery. The blog is interactive and reader participation and comment is encouraged.

Blue Slide Studio: Art Tiles in Point Reyes Station

Ho_crafttile_12 I recently spent a weekend in Point Reyes Station, a small community - mostly an artists' colony but with more and more B&Bs and other attractions built for weekenders - just north of San Francisco. I did a fair amount of window shopping while I was there, and noticed the beautiful Arts & Crafts-influenced tiles marked "Blue Slide" in one shop. Today, I found an article by Joanne Furio in the San Francisco Chronicle on the makers of these tiles:

For inspiration, tilemaker Gordon Bryan doesn't have to go very far. His studio in Point Reyes Station overlooks golden hills where cattle graze. When not working, he can be found birding, gardening, surfing or on his 22-foot fishing boat. So it's not surprising that the cow, the black-headed grosbeak, the oak leaf, the willow and the herring have all found their way into his handmade tiles.

"That is Gordon's thing," says his wife and business partner, Pamela Bridges, who helps with the company's books and serves as her husband's main critic. "He is Mr. Outdoors. He loves nature. He can be out surfing and get some of his inspiration."

The couple, who have been together  25 years, have been in business almost as long. They founded Blue Slide Art Tile in Humboldt County  in 1982 and have been in Point Reyes since 1986. In 2001, they moved their tile making from a rented warehouse to a converted Chevron oil depot they  expanded into a 3,200-square-foot studio in Point Reyes Station.

From a one-man operation that sold tile-topped tables mostly to relatives and friends, Blue Slide has grown into a nationally distributed artisanal firm. Bryan estimates that even the simplest tile is touched at least 30 times.

note: photograph by Penni Gladstone; a gallery of related images accompanies the full article on SFGate.com.

Gainey Ceramics

Gainey Ceramics has sold planters, vases and tile - marketed as "the California original" - since the 1950s. Their Inglewood shop has been producing functional and especially interesting items, mostly planters of a wide variety of shapes and styles (modern and classic, Mission revival [ 1 / 2 ], Craftsman and Asian) but also a variety of architectural and decorative tile.

Roycroft Pottery on Ebay, update

E4_1 An update to our Roycroft Pottery thread the other day - it seems that Ebay seller (redacted) is now offering a 9-inch dragonfly vase, available from the artist herself for $100, for a buy-it-now price of $250. This is not illegal or even a violation of Ebay rules, but certainly seems unethical to me - not the selling of something for more than it costs or is available elsewhere, of course, but specifically withholding the fact that it could be bought directly from the artist for far less. I have tried to have some sort of dialogue with this person, and got back a reply that I thought seemed to sidestep the issue and simply noted that 'this is my vase and I will sell it for whatever I want' - certainly true, and the dealer certainly does have that right. But with every right comes a responsibility: in this case to educate would-be buyers a bit in this forum or in ebay descriptions. This particular seller was responsible, though, and updated the auction description quite substantially to give credit to the creator. However, other sellers - and even some legitimate antique dealers - misrepresent the provenance of items, and continue to withhold information about items which they should share with prospective buyers, in spite of explicit professional guidelines to be completely forthright. Buyer beware!

[note: article edited 04.03.06]

Roycroft Misrepresentation on Ebay

Bj_product_page David Mathias wrote on the Greene Style Furniture mailing list recently that he had seen a number of items of "Roycroft pottery" for sale on Ebay. As many collectors know, aside from a small amount of china used on the campus and produced by Buffalo China, the Roycroft mark never appeared on any commercially-produced pottery until the current resurgence of the movement, and to this day nobody knows what the original experiments looked like as none survived.

David did a little investigation and noticed the vase for sale was a beautiful trapezoidal dragonfly design by potter Janice McDuffie, part of the current Roycroft Renaissance, who has been selling her work under the apt name Roycroft Pottery since the late 1970s. It certainly is Roycroft pottery - but it is not a rare antique, and the seller was allowing the price to climb far above the actual cost of buying such an item new - and they certainly are available! So rather than the money going to the artist who made them, an Ebay seller was withholding information about the item and allowing the price to be inflated for their own personal gain. Certainly they have that right, this behavior is frowned upon in the antique business and the buyers should be made aware of whole truth about the items they are bidding on, especially when it comes to handicraft items. David did contact all of them - and none responded. It seems they enjoy being taken to the cleaners, and if so, then let them get what they want.

Example: Ebay user (deleted) (whom I have communicated with, and whom understands the problem - (s)he has contacted Ebay to change the description and make clear that this item is neither antique nor hard to acquire new) has this item, which costs $100 new, up on Ebay now; the reserve has not yet been met even at a current bid of $152! Janice would be glad to sell anyone who asked for $100, and then you'd be dealing with the artist herself. So - please bid responsibly, and don't support unscrupulous dealers.

Jeannine Calcagno Niehaus, potter

NiehausstudiobigJeannine Niehaus is one of my favorite ceramic artists. At her Santa Cruz, California workshop, Jeannine produces a range of Japanese-inspired vases, plates, bowls, and other pieces using stoneware, porcelain and raku materials/techniques. Her work is a perfect accompaniment to A&C interior architecture, as some of her repeating motifs - wisteria, narcissus, bamboo, iris, eucalyptus, gingko, etc - are patterns embraced by the founders of the various Craftsman movements as well, and have made their way into her work via her intense study of Art Nouveau decoration ahd the floral decoration traditions of China and Japan. Jeannine has been a professional potter for almost thirty years, and began her career not long after receiving her BA in art from San Jose State in the early '70s. Her work is sold almost solely at juried crafts shows throughout California, as she prefers having direct contact with those who purchase her work.

She'll be showing at a number of shows throughout 2005, and if you're anywhere near one, I urge you to stop by and see her work.

  • May 14 & 15, 2005: Clay in Courtyard, Soquel CA
  • June 11 & 12, 2005: Live Oak Park, Berkeley CA
  • August 10 & 11, 2005: American Craft Council wholesale show, Ft. Mason, San Francisco CA
  • August 12 & 14, 2005: American Craft Council retail show, Ft. Mason, San Francisco CA
  • Throughout September, Jeannine will be traveling and studying throughout Japan, but will return soon after for a few more shows...
  • October 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 2005: Santa Cruz County open studios - Jeannine's studio will be open for sales & demos
  • November 2005: a gallery show in Gualala, CA, date & location TBA
  • December 2005: Christmas shows, dates & locations TBA

For more information or specific show dates and locations, email Jeannine. Also, please see the pictures of her work that I'm adding today to our ceramics photo album.

Object Fetish: Ebay, April 2005


Lots of good stuff on Ebay this week - tomorrow I'll go through A&C items on various Craigslist regional sites, but today I've got a few deals from ebay to share.

Catalina Tile

7622798_1c44deb7a4I spent a number of childhood summers at Toyon Bay on Catalina Island, and in Catalina's biggest (almost only) town of Avalon first saw the colorful tile that was made there at the beginning of this century. I was back in Avalon a little over a week ago and was able to get pictures of a few examples of Catalina tile, most of which are up in the Hewn & Hammered Flickr group.

Even though the Catalina Tile Co. stopped making tile many years ago, a number of talented artists are making both faithful reproductions of hand-glazed Catalina tile and designs (including some pretty amazing murals) based on the Catalina style.

I've seen more and more Catalina tile in private collections and at museums recently - I guess folks are dusting off pieces that their parents and grandparents picked up on weekend vacations earlier in the century. A few books on the subject - both general histories and collecting guides - are available.

Newcomb Pottery at the Louisiana State Museum


Some of the Louisiana State Museum's excellent collection of Newcomb and Newcomb-era American A&C pottery is on display in their extensive online exhibit, Newcomb Pottery and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Louisiana. Tracing the movement throughout its appearance in architecture, art and craft throughout the United States, the exhibit eventually focuses specifically on Arts & Crafts in Louisiana and specifically the history of the Tulane University Decorative Art League, New Orleans art pottery in general, and the eventual establishment of Newcomb Pottery. The last portions of the exhibit are dedicated to other craft disciplines that would not have been possible without the seeds planted by Newcomb, such as Louisiana's Arts and Crafts metalwork, embroidery and bookbinding traditions.

Fulper.net Showcases Fulper VaseKraft Lamps

FulperlampFulper.net is a new website dedicated to furthering the appreciation of Fulper art pottery. Although Fulper.net is still in development, the site's Vasekraft lamp gallery is already worth a visit. Fulper Pottery produced their line of distinctive VaseKraft pottery and leaded glass lamps from around 1911 to 1916, and these stunning lamps represent a unique contribution to the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Most Fulper collectors consider the VaseKraft lamps to be Fulper's best work, combining the whole range of Fulper glazes with dramatic architectural lamp forms highlighted by colorful geometric art glass inlays.

The site is being developed by David Kornacki of RoycroftCopper.com along with his brother Jon Kornacki, a long-time Fulper pottery collector. They have gathered together photographs of virtually every Fulper lamp to cross the auction block in the past 20 years along with several rarely seen lamps from museum collections. Their Fulper lamps gallery also includes period advertisements, catalog pages and photographs to provide visitors with a thorough appreciation of these rare examples of Arts and Crafts period lighting. The Kornackis intend to expand the site over time to encompass all of Fulper's pottery production, so check back periodically to watch their progress.

Los Angeles Pottery Show V: Jan 29 & 30, 2005


This, the fifth annual iteration of what is (I believe) the largest such show in the country, will be held at The Pasadena Center on January 29 and 30. Close to 100 dealers will have plenty to show and sell, and there's always plenty of important California tile and other ceramic goods from this and the previous two centuries, specifically lots of Arts & Crafts ceramics. Authors (Jack Chipman, the "Bauer bible"; Norman Carlson, American Art Tile; Carole Coates, Catalina Island Pottery and Tile, and plenty more) will be available for signings, and various private collections will be shown. Call 760.342.9160 or email for advance tickets.



Pete Maloney in Norcross GA points us to his site, which in addition to links to the dealers' various auctions also includes a collaborative antique shop that brings together selected items from a number of different dealers. Selections from Stuart Solomon's wonderful shop in Northhampton MA are featured, as are pottery and metalwork items from Jack Pap; Barbara Gerr, a dealer in Roseville pottery out of Absecon NJ is also part of the group, as are Pearce Fox / Fox Mission in Philadelphia and webmaster Pete Maloney himself, who specializes in all sorts of Arts & Crafts ceramics.

Mission Tile West

MissiontileweststairsMission Tile West bill themselves as "the tultimate place for tile in Southern California and beyond" - and their inventory does not disappoint. They maintain a huge selection of handcrafted ceramics, stone and teracotta at their two showrooms in South Pasadena and Santa Monica. Their online catalog - full of Batchelder, Catalina and dozens of others (plus their own "Revival" line – shows just a portion of what they sell and can order. And the installation photos are a great idea source!

Studio 233: Handbuilt Ceramic Lamps


Clay artist Jim Webb of Studio 233 began studying ceramics with Toshiko Takaezu while an undergraduate at Princeton University.  After graduating with a degree in art history he traveled extensively, primarily in the Middle East.  While in Afghanistan for a year Jim worked for noted archaeologist Louis Dupree.  It was during this time that he developed a keen interest in Islamic art and architecture.

Continue reading "Studio 233: Handbuilt Ceramic Lamps" »

Tile Heritage Foundation

TilemonthfoundationFounded in 1987, the Tile Heritage Foundation is "dedicated to promoting an awareness and appreciation of ceramic surfaces in the United States." They sell books, historic tile catalogs and other publications, provide self-guided vintage-tile tour pamphlets ($3 per tour), and will recommend refinishers, restorers and tilemakers for your project. They also administer the Doty Research Grant, the purpose of which is to "stimulate research in the field of ceramic history and conservation." Additionally, the Foundation maintains a large photographic library and copies of images from their collection are available for a fee.

pictured: Mary Philpott's Crow

Designs in Tile

d-i-t-floorDesigns in Tile of Mt. Shasta, California, creates and sells tiles for historic, period-styled installations in a variety of Aesthetic-influenced styles. Their Hispano-Moresque tiles are especially gorgeous, and some of their colorful and ultra-detailed installations have to be seen to be believed. They specialize in Majolica wainscoting with decorative friezes and cornices; all sorts of period floor designs and mosaics in commercial and residential settings; fireplaces both simple and very complex and all sorts of muralwork.

See more in our ceramics photo album.

Ravenstone Tiles

pinecone-tileRavenstone Tiles is a small art tile company located in the victorian seaport of Port Townsend, Washington. Owner and artist Laura Reutter began making and designing ceramic tiles in 1998. Taking inspiration from early art pottery companies such as Moravian, Rookwood, Newcomb and Grueby, her designs depict nature, with elements of Art Nouveau as well as Arts & Crafts aesthetic.

see more examples of Ravenstone work in our ceramics photo album

Continue reading "Ravenstone Tiles" »

San Francisco open studios

Vince-Meyer-TablesMany communities throughout the Bay Area hold an "open studio" weekend (or week, or, in the case of this month-long 29th annual event in San Francisco, month!), where a large number of artists - sometimes hundreds - open their workspaces to visitors. This is a great way to discover new artists and designers, and to find wonderful work at low prices. This year's event in San Francisco will take place from 11 am to 6 pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of October at more than 800 studios across the city; each weekend a new neighborhood of studios will open its doors to visitors, culminating with the huge number of open studios at the now-decommissioned Hunters' Point Naval Shipyard.

pictured: Vince Meyer's Japanese-influenced tables

Guild.com: 21st-Century Arts & Crafts

cherylwilliamsBuilding on the Arts & Craft movement of an earlier time, Guild.com is a treasure trove of current artists working in metalwork, ceramics, printmaking, painting, fiber, glass, wood, lighting, furniture and tableware.

The Arts & Crafts masters of yesteryear would have enthusiastically approved of The Guild's Philosophy: In a nutshell, we believe that when you live with art that you love, and it's made by a gifted artist with skill and care, it adds something rich and sweet to your life, every day.

Continue reading "Guild.com: 21st-Century Arts & Crafts" »

Treadway & Toomey auctions

metal-vaseAuctions have come a long way in the last few years. Treadway & Toomey, one of the largest of the antiques auction houses to specialize in American Arts & Crafts, has one of their largest auctions of the year coming up on September 12 at their gallery in Oak Park. The online portion of the auction is presented using technology from icollector.com and will occur live on Ebay. Over 1000 lots of furniture, artwork and other decorative items will be sold, and you can preview the lots online. As at any Treadway & Toomey auction, there are some really gorgeous items up for sale.