Colorful Czech Ceramics Rate A Second Look

By Anne Gilbert  

It has been decades since ceramics made in Czechoslovakia have found a serious buyers' market. In fact, when examples made rare auction appearances, prices were often under fifty dollars. Brightly colored kitchen canister sets could be had for under $100. It was the beautiful, glass perfume bottles made there during the early 20th century that have lured collectors.

An upcoming Garth's "Eclectic" auction may change all that. Some Czech figural pottery pitchers have estimates of $200-$400. After viewing these cheery animal and bird pitchers, I researched them on the Internet and found several dealers offering the same items, retail, for $500 and up. I learned a lot more in my own library from a book published in 1993, Made In Czechoslovakia, Book 2, by Ruth A. Forsythe. It can still be purchased at Barnes and Noble. Loaded with color photos.

For starters, I learned that there are several categories of Czech ceramics: Peasant Art, provincial (1917 to 1933); Art Deco (1920s-1933); Amphora and Amphora type; Majolica; and luster and iridescent. In addition to pottery items, porcelain and semi-porcelain dinner sets were made.

Joseph Mrazck was one of the best known Czech pottery artists. In his teens, he came to America and later opened a pottery specializing in peasant-style pottery in 1917 in New York. It was so successful that he started a factory in Czechoslovakia. The "Peasant Art Industries" exported to some of America's top stores in Philadelphia and Chicago. His later Art Deco colors and motifs were used on a wide variety of objects such as pitchers, clocks, lamps, figurines and utilitarian kitchen canister sets.

Amphora pieces in vase shape were made in high glaze, mat finish or both. The name comes from the two-handled, narrow-necked vessel used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to hold oil, wine and liquids.

During a revival in the 1920s of the centuries, old majolica pottery techniques a variety of pieces were made in Czechoslovakia and exported to America. Luster glazes were used from the 1920s to the 1930s.

CLUES: There were dozens of types of marks, mostly ink stamped. Pieces marked "Erphilia" are short for the Philadelphia importing firm of Ebeling and Reuss of Philadelphia. If a piece is marked "Made in Czechoslovakia," that means it was made after 1920. To add to the confusion, one factory could have more than a dozen names and motifs.

If you like the look, now is the time to start collecting. Flea markets and garage sales are a good place to start hunting.


Czech Art Deco pottery ram
figural pitcher.

Czech Art Deco pottery cat figural pitcher. (Photo, Garth's Eclectic Auction, Delaware, Ohio.)





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