Van Briggle pottery of Colorado Springs, CO was founded by Artus and Anne Van Briggle in 1899. Dutch/American Artus Van Briggle was trained as a painter in Europe and worked as a pottery at the Rookwood Pottery firm in Cincinnati, OH. Artus moved to Colorado Springs since the climate was thought to be appropriate for his struggles with tuberculosis.
The pottery firm that bears Artus Van Briggle’s name is known to collectors for its satin matte glazes and unique forms. Most Van Briggle pieces were molded although the market has seen Van Briggle pottery and prototypes that have been hand sculpted too. Van Briggle pottery pieces, such as the famous Lorelei vase in the form of a coiled woman, are best known by their characteristic molded Art Nouveau forms, matte glazes, and variety of colors. Multiple glaze colors were used on singular pieces with specific glaze and textural results. Collectors pay more money for Van Briggle pieces made prior to 1920 since mold forms, colors, and glazes are exceptional. In addition to vases and bowls, Van Briggle made novelty items such as tiles, bookends, ashtrays, mugs, incense burners, animal figures including political mascots like republican elephants and democratic donkeys, etc. Some of Van Briggle’s pieces have a background or base glaze as well as a solid matte glaze. This contrasting of glazes is indicative of Van Briggle’s ability to contrast colors as in painting only using glazes instead.
The double A mark on the underside of Van Briggle pieces is the company’s logo. Van Briggle American art pottery in its early years of production, circa 1899 to 1904, showed this mark and Artus’s signature. Artus Van Briggle signed some pieces himself with a highly recognizable and very characteristic “gg” letter form. Early pottery marks included the company name “Van Briggle”, the “AA” logo which stands for Artus and Anne, roman numerals which reference a clay composition, date of production, and a stamped mold or shape number. Pieces dating from circa 1905 to 1912/13 sometimes have a three digit number on the base along with the company name and AA logo. Pieces were dated from circa 1913 to 1920.
Van Briggle pieces were exported abroad from circa 1922 to 1926 so as is customary, the marking “USA” was added to the markings on pieces from this period. Dating Van Briggle pieces from the 1920s thru the 1960s is easy because there is an evident change in the clay colors when compared to earlier pieces. Since the 1980s, the Van Briggle mark has included artisan’s initials or monograms on pieces. Most recently, Van Briggle pieces produced in the 21st Century are marked with a “V”. So, pieces made in 2001 are marked V1. A Van Briggle pieces made in 2009 is marked V9. Be careful as many unscrupulous resellers will try to sell off these new pieces as old ones.
Van Briggle Values
Values for Van Briggle range from a few hundred dollars for a contemporary piece of Van Briggle to collectible pieces with specialty glazes, innovative colors, and breathtaking forms commanding several tens of thousands of dollars on the antiques market. Objects dating from circa 1899 to 1904 prior to Artus’ death and showing his unique abilities are among the most valuable. Also, specialty items featuring aesthetically pleasing glazes, colors, and forms from circa 1900 to 1920 are among the most widely collectible.
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