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Rookwood to host auctions formerly held at Cincinnati Art Galleries

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Written by Tom Hoepf, Auction Central News International   
Friday, 13 November 2009 12:58
Rookwood Faience tile showing the Rookwood company name and two rooks in flight in a dense forest, designed circa 1905 by Sally Toohey, 14 inches by 8 inches, sold for $85,000 on June 3, 2007 at Cincinnati Art Galleries. Image courtesy Archive and Cincinnati Art Galleries. CINCINNATI (ACNI) – The reborn Rookwood Pottery has assumed the art pottery auctions conducted for many years by Cincinnati Art Galleries. The biannual sales, the largest Rookwood auctions in the world, will be held at held at Rookwood Pottery’s spacious facility in Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood near downtown Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Art Galleries’ Riley Humler has been named Director of Auctions at Rookwood Pottery. He brings with him his expert team of Jim Fleming and Karen Singleton.

Their first auction at Rookwood Pottery will be in June. It is being planned as a three-day art pottery conference-style event, complete with receptions, speakers and tours.

Humler, a Rookwood expert and longtime collector, anticipates the move to the pottery’s facility at 1920 Race Street will be completed by Jan. 1.

“We have always had a great working relationship with Rookwood Pottery and applaud (CEO) Christopher Rose and his vision for Rookwood,” said Humler. “I’ve been a Rookwood nut for 35 years. It’s incredible that I can say I actually work there.”

Humler said the change took place because of Cincinnati Art Galleries owners’ desire to focus their business exclusively on 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings.

“None of us is getting any younger, and Randy and Michele Sadler wanted to simplify their operation. Their daughter is interested in the commercial art gallery,” said Humler. “The move seems like it will be mutually beneficial for all parties.”

Humler believes the pairing will be a natural fit.

“That’s part of the positive synergy. The melding of the two businesses will allow older collectors to see what’s going on literally where the pottery is being made,” said Humler.

Rookwood Pottery has been a Cincinnati institution since its founder Maria Longworth Nichols pulled the first piece from the kiln in 1880. After numerous successes that continued through the first quarter of the 20th century, the pottery barely survived the Great Depression. Financial difficulties continue until a new owner moved the company to Mississippi in 1960. It closed shortly thereafter.

Rose and a group of local Cincinnati investors purchased the assets of the original Rookwood Pottery in 2005 and began producing Rookwood products a year later. The initial company’s emphasis has been on architectural tile, similar to what the original Rookwood Pottery began producing in 1902 with its Architectural Faience Division.

“They have access to all the old glazes, but this is Rookwood in the 21st century, not a rehash of what’s been done before,” said Humler. “I’m excited about the possibility down the road where they begin to do art pieces again.”

“We don’t have a Kataro Shirayamadani, a Carl Schmidt or a Matt Daly to do those things anymore, but there are plenty of great ceramic artists around who hopefully will come in and do unique pieces. I think that’s going to be really interesting,” he said.

No drastic changes are planned for the format of the auctions, which will continue to include many types of American and European art pottery and art glass.

Humler does not foresee new Rookwood products being sold at the auctions, not while customers can buy or order retail from the adjacent showroom.

Work is under way to set up an auction gallery in the former warehouse that is now the home of Rookwood Pottery.

“We’ve picked out a spot we think will work nicely for the auction,” said Humler. “We just have to do work with lighting, put in some TV monitors and a few things like that. It’s going to be very nice and on the first floor.”

Humler said that Rose has big plans, “not just what Rookwood is doing, but redevelopment of the part of the city north of Findlay Market, the city’s historic public market. It’s very viable in the summer. I was there yesterday and it was quite busy.”

Visit Rookwood Corporation online at

Visit Cincinnati Art Galleries online at

Copyright 2009 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Rare and highly important Rookwood Black Iris glaze vase designed in 1900 by Kataro Shirayamadani, possibly for the Paris Exposition, 14 1/2 inches tall. Sold for $305,000 on June 6, 2004 at Cincinnati Art Galleries. Image courtesy Archive and Cincinnati Art Galleries.
1898 Rookwood standard glaze pillow vase with the portrait of Chief Joseph, the work of Matt Daly. Sold for $51,000 on Nov. 6, 2005 at Cincinnati Art Galleries. Image courtesy Archive and Cincinnati Art Galleries.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 November 2009 19:45

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