The Buffalo Pottery Company was established in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. It was an offshoot of the Larkin Soap Company, which was founded in 1875. John Larkin and his brother-in-law Elbert Hubbard conceived Buffalo Pottery to make dishes that could be purchased with certificates from Larkin Soap. In essence, the company was a gimmick to sell more soap. Buffalo Pottery produced many different kinds of pottery for commercial use in hotels and railroad dining cars, as well as art pottery that is popular with antique collectors.
Deldare Ware, which first appeared in 1908, is the most collectible Buffalo Pottery. Potters added chrome oxide to the clay to produce an olive green base color. English scenes from the books "The Vicar of Wakefield" and "Cranford" decorated the first pieces of Deldare. In 1909, scenes from the Fallowfield Hunt were printed on the pottery. The following year, only a calendar plate was produced in Deldare Ware. Another series was made from 1923 to 1925. Buffalo Pottery produced Deldare in many forms, including dinner sets, pitchers, dresser sets, vases, punch bowls, mugs and candleholders. It is prized for its lavish and colorful hand-painted decorations. Emerald Deldare was produced in 1911 only. Its limited production run makes it quite rare, and therefore most valuable as a collectible.
Buffalo Pottery also produced Abino Ware from 1911 to 1913. Decorations included windmills, boats and sea scenes. Abino was produced in a palette of pale green and rust. Between 1905 and 1909, Buffalo Pottery produced 29 known varieties of pitchers, which were usually transfer printed and hand decorated. Pitcher patterns included Hounds and Stag, Orchids, Roosevelt Bears, Wild Ducks, Cinderella and Art Nouveau.
Buffalo Pottery produced a popular dinnerware set in the Blue Willow pattern around 1907. The Willow pattern has been reproduced by hundreds of china companies. It first appeared in the 1780s.
The design is an allegory of a Chinese love story. As the legend goes, a young girl was betrothed to a much older man chosen by her father, but she was in love with someone else. Against her father's wishes, she ran away and married her lover. The 3 figures on the footbridge represent the young couple being chased by her father, who brandishes a whip. The jilted fiancé tracked them down in their new home and burned it to the ground, killing them both. The 2 doves found in the Willow pattern represent their spirits rising from the ashes in triumph.
Almost all of Buffalo Pottery's work is clearly marked with a variation of the buffalo symbol and usually includes the date of manufacture. Larger items have sold for thousands of dollars, particularly rare examples in excellent condition. Even small plates and bowls can sell for as much as $50.
The Modern Era
Buffalo Pottery completely shifted to commercial grade china in the 1920s and 1930s. The Larkin Soap Company, which had diversified to include a range of household products, closed in the 1940s but existed as a mail order company until 1962. Today, Buffalo Pottery is a division of Oneida Ltd. They continue to produce commercial grade pottery for use by clubs, restaurants and the military.
- Kim Kenney