Art Pottery and a Cast Iron “Fala”
Q. I inherited a piece of art pottery that is stamped “Grueby” and I have been told it is valuable. Can you tell me a little about this company and what it is worth? It is eight inches high and four inches wide at its base. I have included two pictures, including one showing the stamp.
A. The Grueby Faience Company began around 1894 in Revere, Massachusetts by William Henry Grueby. Grueby was in the mainstream of the Arts and Crafts /Art Nouveau design movements in the United States. The decorations are very simple and charming: leaves, half-opened flowers, some in the shape of scarab beetles. Several colors were used but the greens (in a matte finish) were by far the most successful. Your vase is one of their classic shapes in the “cucumber” green glaze.
His work won several awards and led to contracts with Tiffany & Co. for lamp bases, and they supplied tiles for Gustav Stickley’s tables. As what often happens with many great successes, they attracted competition which began making copycat and similar products. Grueby filed for bankruptcy in 1909, had a factory fire, and struggled with limited production until they closed in 1920.
Grueby Pottery is regarded by experts as one of the best examples of American pottery. It has a distinct individuality; it is not a product of imitation or just decorated china. Its simplicity, superb finish and the richness of colors ma Add Mediake it very special and highly regarded.
The stamp on your piece dates it to 1910. The size and shape of your vase is very desirable and would sell for around $1800.
Q. I have a cast iron doorstop in the shape of a terrier. I think it is of “Fala” which belonged to FDR. Is it valuable?
A. Fala (1940-1952) was indeed the beloved Scottish Terrier of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is one of the most famous presidential pets of all time. Fala followed Roosevelt everywhere and was a large part of his public image. Fala’s antics were closely covered by the media and the dog’s popularity resulted in popularity of the breed as well as books and other memorabilia devoted to Fala.
It is difficult to say if your statue is specifically “Fala”. There are many cast iron dogs made, of which Scottish Terriers are just one. The cast iron doorstops that fetch the highest prices were made by Hubley. Hubley produced cast iron toys and household objects beginning in the late 1890’s. All were hand painted and finished by hand (no rough seams, no evidence of machine finishing). A closer look would be required to tell if this is a Hubley. If this is a Hubley, a collector may pay up to $200-300.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, your give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.