What’s Behind the Demand For Weller Pottery?

Weller Pottery Hero Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most successful American pottery companies in history, Weller Pottery ranked among the most celebrated makers of the early twentieth century. Though the company ceased to produce art pottery around 1920, Weller wares have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity owed to expert craftsmanship and their incorporation of both Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts sensibilities.

For those new to Weller pottery or for those seeking insights into popular antique Weller pottery patterns, this article explores the history of Weller pottery vases and highlights some of the styles that still sizzle at today’s auctions.

Origins in Ohio

Samuel Weller’s diminutive pottery studio occupied a single room when it first opened its doors in 1872 in central Ohio. A combination, however, of a passion for pottery and a keen sales sensibility meant that Weller Pottery would rocket into early popularity thanks to a series of smart collaborations Weller established with leading innovators in the ceramics field. From his early work with William Long (after he purchased Long’s company, Lonhuda Pottery) to his teaming up with Frederick Hurten Rhead in the early 1900s, Weller seemed to have a knack for identifying the rising trends in pottery and capitalizing upon them in his own studio. 

Cornering the Market

Accordingly, by 1905, Weller had earned international acclaim for its record output of art pottery and had also been labeled the world’s biggest pottery studio. This arrival of Weller pottery on an international stage was driven home the year prior with Weller’s debut at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, wherein he transformed his exposition building into a  fully-operational pottery studio complete with a kiln.


Weller Pottery Building at the 1904 World’s Fair” (Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society )

Celebrating the beauty of hand-crafted art pottery remained the central credo of Weller Pottery up until World War I, when market demands and dwindling supplies forced Weller to refocus its production on commercial lines. 

The End of an (Art Pottery) Era

Samuel Weller died in 1925 following a stroke, and though his relatives took over at the helm of the company the stressors of the economy proved too great. The Depression era was catastrophic and pushed Weller to cease creating hand-decorated patterns in the early 1930s; then, Weller shifted production solely to commercial wares until the final shuttering of the company in the late 1940s during the aftermath of World War II. 

In its heyday, Weller employed hundreds of workers and created thousands of brilliant examples of art pottery. Today, finding those envied examples of well-preserved antique Weller pottery can be more of a challenge. Collectors persevere, however, as they are compelled by the striking beauty and timeless artisanry of the Weller brand. Let’s consider this brilliance as we take a closer look at some of the most desired Weller pottery patterns.

Weller Pottery – Sicard(o) Pattern

Named after the pattern’s creator, Jacques Sicard, who debuted the style just after the dawn of the twentieth century, Weller Sicard (or Sicardo) pottery can easily be spotted for its brilliant, iridescent sheen that amplifies each surface. This luster is derived from a metallic glaze that Sicard and his colleagues used on the pottery to result in that mesmerizing finish. Sicard’s tantalizing metallic majolica was produced for only a short time – he refused to sell his proprietary glazes to Weller when he left the studio in 1907 – making Sicard wares all the more exclusive.

JACQUES SICARD WELLER Massive sand jar painted

Lot 294: Jacques Sicard, Weller; Massive Sand Jar Painted, Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, NJ (1 October 2011), Sold: $17,360


Lot 2: A Monumental Ceramic Vase, Christie’s, New York, NY (10 September 2004), Sold: $8,365

Weller Sicard vase, blown out nasturtium, 11_

Lot 370: Weller Sicard Vase, Blown Out Nasturtium, 11”, Cincinnati Art Galleries, Cincinnati, OH (5 June 2004), Sold: $9,000

Weller Pottery – Hudson Pattern

In keeping with the Art Nouveau flair of earlier styles like Weller Sicard pottery, Weller Hudson wares hit the market in the late 1910s to great acclaim. Typically featuring delicate, hand-painted floral motifs that spread across carefully crafted ceramic vessels, Weller Hudson pottery continues to be some of the most coveted. Topping the list are those works crafted by some of Weller’s most loved decorators, including Claude Leffler and Hester Pillsbury.

Monumental and exceptional WELLER Hudson Light floor vase

Lot 608: Monumental and exceptional Weller Hudson Light Floor Vase, Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, NJ (20 April 2002), Sold: $7,475

WELLER Hudson tall vase finely painted by Claude Leffler

Lot 1184: Weller Hudson Tall Vase Finely Painted by Claude Leffler
Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, NJ (21 May 2006), Sold: $3,900

Weller Pottery – Louwelsa Pattern

Purportedly christened from a play on Weller’s daughter’s name, Weller Louwelsa pottery was introduced in 1896 and was designed to emulate the rich, even colors that competing makers like Roseville and Rookwood were generating in the early years of the twentieth century. Though it appeared in a variety of faience-glazed colors, Weller Louwelsa pottery arguably achieved peak popularity with its rich brown glazes that served as an ideal ground for everything from nature studies to striking portraits.

Weller Louwelsa beverage set, pitcher and four mugs

Lot 266: Weller Louwelsa Beverage Set, Pitcher and Four Mugs, Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, Covington, KY (6 June 2009), Sold: $5,000                                                                                                     

A Weller Louwelsa Pottery Vase

Lot 1260: A Weller Louwelsa Pottery Vase, Hindman, Chicago, IL (9 October 2012), Sold: $2,794 

Good Weller Louwelsa tankard

Lot 787: Good Weller Louwelsa Tankard, Brown Glaze with Well Painted Portrait of a Monk, Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, Cincinnati, OH (5 June 2005), Sold: $1,600

Monumental Weller Louwelsa Floor Vase

Lot 73: Monumental Weller Louwelsa Floor Vase, Art Pottery, Skinner, Boston, MA (17 December 2011), Sold: $4,444 

Weller Pottery – Matte Ware

In addition to dazzling audiences with their incandescent metallic glazes of the Weller Sicard pottery line, Weller also specialized in matte ware works that spoke to the subdued styles popular among Arts and Crafts connoisseurs. Different shades were produced, but it would seem that the most lusted after among collectors are the Matte Green pieces. Also among the most sought after are those in the closely-related Fru Russet style, introduced in the early 1900s and one of Weller’s most successful early lines.  

WELLER Matt Green vase with reticulated poppy

Lot 157: Weller Matt Green Vase with Reticulated Poppy
Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, NJ (8 March 2008), Sold: $2,900

Weller Matte Green Jardiniere & Pedestal c1910

Lot 314: Weller Matte Green Jardiniere & Pedestal c. 1910 California Historical Design, Inc.          (16 March 2019) Sold: $2,000 

Weller Fru Russet Matt Green Pottery

Lot 56: Weller Fru Russet Matt Green Pottery Gulfcoast Coin and Jewelry, Fort Myers, FL                  (5 March 2016), Sold: $900

The Weller Pottery Company Fru Russet vase

Lot 113: The Weller Pottery Company Fru Russet Vase
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, Oak Park, IL (6 June 2015), Sold: $2,318

Weller Pottery for the Win

Weller’s incredible success in the turn-of-the-century art pottery market was owed to the fact that Weller mastered the combination of expertly crafted pottery presented in striking glazes and motifs that spoke to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts aesthetics that dominated the era. Today, collectors can take advantage of this combination by investing in a striking piece of antique Weller pottery that seems as fresh today as it was when it was created more than a century ago.

Looking for more? Browse Weller Pottery for sale at auction now on Invaluable.

More from In Good Taste:

A Guide to Clarice Cliff Pottery

What to Know About Ancient Greek Vases & Pottery

A Guide to Moorcraft Pottery: History, Patterns and Prices