The Rookwood Pottery Company
The Rookwood Pottery Company was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1879. In 1941, the company filed for bankruptcy and a bankruptcy sale was held in September to liquidate the assets. Reorganization under new owners allowed the company to reopen in November. In 1942, the company was sold to Sperti, Inc. New owners in the 1950's included James M. Smith (1956), and the Herschede Hall Clock Company (1959). In 1960 the operations of the company were moved to Starkville, Mississippi. In 1967, the ownership of the Herschede Hall Clock Company underwent a change and the Rookwood Pottery division was closed.
In the beginning the company struggled and produced primarily toilet sets, pitchers and gray stoneware. However, as the company evolved, it began to focus on hand decorated art pottery. Ms. Nichols had the financial backing of a wealthy family and was able to hire skilled artisans who were able to develop new manufacturing processes and unique glazes that enabled the production of highly desirable lines of art pottery. Many different decorative accessory items such as vases, ashtrays, pitchers, lamps, candlesticks and tiles were produced from molded patterns. These pieces were then hand painted by talented artists. Most pieces of Rookwood may be identified through the Rookwood backstamp and many early pieces of art pottery were artist signed. Pieces with a very early mark have two rooks alongside a pottery kiln. Beginning in 1886, a backward "RP" backstamp was instituted. A single flame point was added to the stamp in each succeeding year through 1900 to complete a circle of flame points around the backward "RP" signature. Other forms of the embossed Rookwood name were also used through the years. For a more complete discussion of Rookwood backstamps and artist signatures see the book Lehner's Encyclopedia of U. S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain and Clay by Lois Lehner.