Antiques: Buffalo Pottery
Buffalo Pottery was established by the Larkin Soap Company, a soap manufacturer. It was the result of a creative marketing scheme by its owners, John D. Larkin and his brother-in-law, Elbert Hubbard. The pottery was initially produced as a premium product to increase retail sales of their soap products. Buffalo’s Deldare line was made in 1908 and 1909, and then again from 1923 to 1925.
Recognized for its olive-green body and colorful designs, Deldare was costly and labor-intensive to produce. Each piece was molded, applied with an intricate transfer design, and then hand painted in underglaze mineral colors. Pieces were dated on the back and monogrammed or signed by the artist. The designs were copied from English etchings, with themes such as scenes from Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford (1853); the Fallowfield Hunt series, after artist Cecil Aldin; and the tours of Dr. Syntax (circa 1809 to 1822), after the English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson. Forms ranged from small dishes to tea sets, trivets, pitchers, trays, bowls, and vases.
Because Deldare was expensive to make and produced for only a limited period of time, it is not overly plentiful on the market. It is especially popular among collectors interested in the Arts and Crafts movement and among Colonial Revival enthusiasts. Collectors should be on the lookout for large forms, as they are harder to come by. Expect to pay at least $50 for small dishes, $300 to $500 for a bowl or pitcher, and several thousand dollars for very large forms.
Emerald Deldare, the most desirable line by Buffalo, was produced only in 1911. This line looks similar to the original, but pieces also have an elaborately decorated border. Expect to pay a premium for these pieces.
“As with all ceramic wares, condition is critical,” notes Kerry Shrives, senior appraiser and director of Skinner’s monthly Discovery auctions. “Ideally, look for pieces in perfect condition — without chips, nicks, or hairline cracks — as such damage can significantly affect value.” A good reference guide on Buffalo Pottery is The Book of Buffalo Pottery, by Seymour and Violet Altman (Schiffer Publishing, $27.50).
This column is produced for Yankee by Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers of Boston. skinnerinc.com