Today, MCHS is very strict about what we accept into the museum collections. Much as I love THINGS, we simply can’t (and shouldn’t) store and care for one or more of everything; instead, we look for pieces with strong county provenance . . . that is to say, a good local story. When we moved into the Beall-Dawson House in the mid 1960s, however, we were suddenly faced with a large and empty house. To furnish it, and help tell the stories of the people who lived there for over a century, we collected furniture and decorative arts for the look rather than the history. Though every furnished room contains artifacts with local provenance (and at least one piece with Beall or Dawson family connections), some of our furniture and decorative arts collection has no particular relation to Montgomery County.

For instance, we have several examples of functional art pottery from the early 20th century. These three pieces were collected by Grace M. Eager of Wisconsin and Colorado; they were inherited by her granddaughter, Marian Roscheck, and donated by Mrs. Roscheck in 1989. We use them from time to time in the Beall-Dawson House to help set the scene, when we need that scene to be “real people lived here in the early 20th century” – or when the museum needs a little spring-like uplift. If you, dear reader, could use a little spring right now yourself, please enjoy these charming floral ceramics.

Blue Drapery, Weller Gc60

The earliest of the three is this 6.75” tall jardinière, made by Weller Pottery of Zanesville, Ohio. The “Blue Drapery” pattern – a highly descriptive name, as you can see – was introduced in 1915. The bottom is stamped, simply, “Weller.” Weller Pottery was founded in 1872, and the company began designing and producing art pottery by the 1890s.

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Newcomb College Gc62

From about the same time is this small (2” tall) bulb bowl, decorated with narcissus blooms, produced in 1917 by craftspeople at the Newcomb College Pottery in New Orleans, Louisiana. The various marks on the bottom tell us the school and the date (“IW77” means 1917, no. 77), as well as the potter, Joseph Meyers, and the decorator, Sadie Irvine. Both were well-known members of the pottery, which opened at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for women in 1895.

Newcomb College mark Gc62

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Roseville "Apple Blossom" Gc61

Finally, here is a bowl or small jardinière by the Roseville Pottery Co. of Zanesville, Ohio, in the “Apple Blossom” pattern introduced in 1949. The numerical marking on the bottom – 300-4″ – gives us the classification (300 = bowl) and size (4” tall). Roseville was one of the more prolific, and better-known, art potteries of the early-mid 20th century, but as you can tell from our other pieces here, it wasn’t the only company working in this style.

Roseville mark Gc61

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For more information on each pottery, click on the Wikipedia links scattered throughout this post, or do a quick internet search by pottery name for some of the many, many collectors’ websites available. Or, of course, try your local library for published books. Pottery collectors love their stuff, and there’s a lot more info out there for you! We have several other examples of art pottery in our collections – including other Roseville patterns – but today’s theme was ‘blue with flowers,’ so ceramics fans will have to wait for a future post to see more.

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