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This article is about the identification of American pottery by the bottom, and it is not my intent to vary from that topic much, but it is difficult to look at the bottoms and not see the tops–so a comment on glaze seems essential here.Once the clay color has been examined, the weight of the pot has been considered, and it has been determined to likely be an American pottery, then a cursory glance at the glaze may help with certain identification.
Compare these cups and saucers (left) with the Gilmer vase (above).
The bottom shows the name, if there is one, the color of the clay, the way the piece is fired, and other characteristics that help with the identification.
If you're looking to identify a piece of marked pottery, you may want to check our American Pottery Marks and Resource Directory and compare the mark there. Since not all pottery is marked, the identification must be done with a little more resourcefulness. Most American pottery pieces have some weight to them–unlike the Japan imports of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that seem fairly light in comparison.
If you pick up a piece of pottery and it has identifying marks such as a name or logo, you can easily determine the maker. This is a good place to start to identify the country of origin, if it is not shown.
So, just in the process of picking up the piece, the weight is registering in my mind.
Take a look at the marks on this Rum Rill console bowl (right).
(A brief aside about Red Wing and Rum Rill: Rum Rill was made by Red Wing for several years, using George Rum Rill's designs at Red Wing.) often has three stilt marks, too, and the old pieces show red clay under the glaze.
The same general dating can be used for , and other American companies of the first half of the Twentieth Century.
In general, shiny glaze has not met with the same favor by collectors as the matte glaze pieces.
Well, some of the pottery lovers like myself have spent years identifying American pottery, and one of the best ways to do this is by looking at the bottom of the piece.
In most of the American pottery pieces, the bottom tells more than the glaze.
By 1915, much American pottery was matte finish and early Art Deco shapes. Some American potteries went back to shiny glazes in the late 1930s and 1950s, and through the 1960s for many of the companies.