by Dr. Lori Verderame
While the mid 20th century modern furniture and design craze is still in full swing with collectors, many seasoned antique buyers, yard sale shoppers, and resellers are reminded of the collecting trend that focuses on vintage ceramics from the 1950s and 1960s. The post-World War II American design motifs highlighted color–eye-popping reds, crisp yellows, bright blues, and glorious greens. It is well known that in times of prosperity, designers introduce bold colors and for Glidden vases, vessels, planters, etc. bold colors and interesting organic forms are hot in today’s antiques and vintage collectibles market. This pottery is very different from the delicate and feminine pottery of Staffordshire, Wedgwood, or Limoges as Glidden pottery is strong, not fussy, and straightforward in its design.
Glidden American potter is one of the most popular collectible ceramics today. It was all the rage in the years following the end of the Second World War. Glidden pottery was found in homes, hotels, fine restaurants, and even on popular TV shows in the 1950s. In its heyday, from 1940-1957, Glidden pottery was the choice of interior designers, art collectors, and even Hollywood actors and actresses. For instance, actress and comedienne, Lucille Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz adorned their California home and on-air TV apartment located in New York City on the set of “I Love Lucy” with various types of glazed stoneware Glidden pieces ranging from platters, dishware and serving dishes to ashtrays.
What to Look For
Hand-built ceramics are among the most sought after pieces for designers and antiques collectors interested in the accessories of the mid century modern design movement. Glidden pottery was made in Alfred, New York from circa 1940 to 1957. Pieces are clearly marked on the underside of the base with “Glidden”. Colorful glazes of teal, pink, tan, green, and blue, clever designs highlighting figures of elephants, giraffes, and fish, and creative forms like covered casserole dishes in the form of a fish or planters modeled with built in water spouts were unique to Glidden at the height of production. Some of the most popular Glidden pieces are matching sets with animal imagery and abstract linear designs. The fish casserole dish, for instance, is a rare and desirable Glidden piece. Coasters, bulbous bowls, round planters, floor vases–large and small–are rare, pricey and worth the investment. The ultra modern form of Glidden pottery are fine examples of mid century modern styling.
Look for organic shapes, hand built stoneware with modernist designs, colorful glazes and the well known Glidden mark. Each piece of Glidden was individually hand glazed, modeled and decorated by some of the most renown artists of the time including Glidden Parker, founder and designer, Fong Chow, and Sergio dello Strologo. Glidden produced an amazing amount of pieces during the 1950. In a single week in the 1950s, the firm produced 6,000 pieces of pottery. Glidden Parker was a student at the nearby New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, NY where he later established Glidden pottery and today is home to a major pottery museum and research center for the ceramic arts.
Glidden pottery pieces range in value from $25-$35 for a small glazed ashtray with rounded corners to several hundreds of dollars for a rare decorated covered serving platter like the Fish with skeleton covered casserole serving platter shown above. The famous dual use pottery object by Fong Chow called the blue bird bowl/ashtray depicts an abstract bird form in the artist’s well known abstract modern design. This piece sells for $200 retail value on the market.
Today, Glidden pottery is easily sourced when searching online as well as at estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores, and other locations. Rare Glidden pieces can show up at art pottery auctions and specialty shops. Be sure you are buying an authentic piece as there are fakes out there. While there was an abundance of Glidden pieces available in the 1970s when the factory was producing so many objects following the war years, today collectors of Glidden pottery are very selective. The best pieces of Glidden pottery are those with the most interesting designs and the most popular imagery or color schemes but remember, these are also the pieces that command the most money and are the most difficult to find.
Get an online appraisal of your Glidden pottery from Dr. Lori.