How to Identify Rumrill Pottery

By Keely Brown
American pottery manufacturers flourished during the first half of the twentieth century.

The first decades of the 20th century marked a heyday for American pottery manufacturers, due to the continued popularity of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. In the early 1930s, an entrepreneur named George Rumrill partnered with Ohio ceramics giant Red Wing to produce a highly decorative line of art pottery under the name "RumRill." According to RumRill expert Francesca Fisher, after this partnership dissolved in 1938, RumRill continued to be produced by companies such as Shawnee Pottery, Florence Pottery and Gonder Ceramic Arts. RumRill continued to be produced until the death of George Rumrill in 1943.

Identifying RumRill Pottery

American art pottery was famous for its highly colored and glazed surfaces.

Turn the piece over to see if there are any marks on the base. Rub this area gently with a soft cloth to remove any shelf dust or debris which may obscure the mark.

Use a magnifying glass and, if necessary a flashlight in order to see the mark; genuine RumRill pieces will have the "RumRill" name, as well as a mold number.

Look carefully at the construction of the piece; according to experts from the Red Wing Collectors Society, RumRill pieces made by Red Wing Pottery were often cataloged as "Classic Group," "Fluted Group" and "Fern Group," and featured a mix of blended glazes. Referring to reference books, photographs and collectors' websites may help in identifying the make and style of your RumRill piece.

Tip

Although produced by other manufacturers such as Red Wing, genuine RumRill pottery is always marked "RumRill." Since the production line was so short-lived, RumRill-marked pieces are harder to find, and can command high prices — but only if the piece is properly marked with the "RumRill" name.

Warning

When cleaning pottery, be careful to only use solutions that won't damage the finish. Never attempt to repair a piece of vintage pottery yourself; take it to a professional restorer who can make the repair without devaluing the piece by a significant amount. Because of the rarity of some pieces, fakes are common, especially in flea market venues. If the glaze or decoration on a piece is sloppy or uneven, chances are it may be a fake, even it it's marked. Whenever possible, only purchase from well-known dealers with a good reputation.

About the Author

Keely Brown has been a feature writer, arts critic, columnist and business writer since 1998. She has written for publications such as the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Creative Loafing" and "Boulder County Business Report." Brown won a Colorado Press Association Award for journalism and a Best of Atlanta award for her radio program. She has been profiled on CNN and National Public Radio.