Archive for Sunday, May 30, 1999


May 30, 1999


Workplace romance isn't just a subject for today's soap operas.

King Features Syndicate

The Rookwood Pottery Company was one of the most famous in the United States. It was one of the first art potteries in America. They made what was then the most modern type of pottery.

Maria Longworth Nichols started decorating china in 1873. In 1876, she decided to make her own pottery, even though it was unusual for a woman to have her own business. By 1880, she employed a group of artists to make art pottery that she called Rookwood.

Many famous artists worked at the company until it closed in 1959. During that period it was unusual for a woman to work outside of the home. Perhaps the artistic spirit and the close quarters of the pottery made romance possible, as many of the artists married each other. Artus Van Briggle married Anna while studying in Paris. They returned to work at Rookwood, and later moved to Colorado where they founded the Van Briggle Pottery. Albert Valentien, who joined the pottery as a decorator in 1887, married Anna Marie Bookprinter, who had been working there for several years.

Matt Daly was a decorator at Rookwood in 1882. In 1928, he married Olga Reed Pinney, another decorator. Elisabeth Barret married Jens Jensen in 1931, and Irene Bishop married Edward Hurley in 1907. At least four other couples, after working together at the pottery, were married in the years before 1915.

An office romance is not uncommon today, but in the past, many firms would never hire a husband and wife. If they met and married at work, one was required to resign. Maybe it was because the owner of the Rookwood Pottery was a woman, or perhaps because talented artists were hard to find, that the couples remained employees at the pottery.

  • The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. By sending a letter, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will be kept confidential. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. The Kovels cannot guarantee return of any photograph. If you wish other information about antiques, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a listing of helpful books and publications. Write to Kovels, The Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

  • I have a pair of 5-inch-high plaster-like figures, a redheaded boy and girl. If they are placed near each other, the heads turn and "kiss." It says "NY" on the front. Do you know anything about this type of toy?

Kissing figures have been made at least since the 1920s. Small magnets are inside the mouths, and when they are placed close enough, they attract each other for a kiss. We have seen celluloid figures like this from the 1920s, 1940s, and even reproductions today. The composition figures probably date from the 1960s. If your redheads are wearing red-and-white-striped jackets, they may be Wendy and Peter, the twins who represented the New York World's Fair in 1964-65.

My plates picture dogs holding dead game birds. On the back, they are marked "R. K. Beck, Clarice Cliff, Newport Pottery Co., England."

Clarice Cliff was a famous designer who worked for several English potteries. Your plates must have been made at the Newport Pottery in England after 1920. R.K. Beck was a wildlife artist. His designs were reproduced on decals that were applied to plates made in several potteries. We have seen Beck plates made by the Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, N.Y., c. 1909-1914; Sterling China, East Liverpool, Ohio, c. 1917; and Fasold & Stauch, Boch-Wallendorf, Germany, c. 1914. Your plate shape is part of a Cliff design, but the dog pictures are by Beck.

I collect old soda bottles. I recently purchased an Anheuser-Busch Root Beer bottle for $50. The bottle is brown, and the paper label is red and white. I know Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser and Michelob beers. When did the company make root beer?

Adolphus Busch became a partner in his father-in-law's small St. Louis brewery in 1869. The small brewery, E. Anheuser & Co., grew over the next decade and became Anheuser-Busch in 1879. The company has produced more than 50 different brands of beer. During Prohibition (1920-1933) and for a few years before and after, Anheuser-Busch made 20 different brands of nonalcoholic beverages, including root beer, ginger ale, grape drink and a short-lived coffee-flavored soda called Kaffo.


Castor oil is good for dried-out leather. Clean the leather with saddle soap and water, dry, then rub in castor oil with a soft cloth. It leaves a shiny finish. Neat's-foot oil is also good, but it leaves a dull appearance.

  • Kovels' Yellow Pages is the new resource for experienced and rookie collectors. Trying to sell some of your collection? Need a liner for a salt dish or a cup and saucer to match Grandmother's Haviland? This book lists phone, fax, e-mail and Internet addresses for more than 3,000 suppliers, clubs, auctions, services and industry sources that help with the problems of selling, buying and fixing. Send $18 plus $3 postage to Kovel, Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio, 44122 or call (800) 571-1555

Commenting has been disabled for this item.