Rookwood Tiger Eye vase, Valentien, Rare 1884 original batch
In the winter of 1884, accidental misadjustments resulted in a melt-down and subsequent collapse of the #4 kiln which was filled with nearly 2500 pieces of Albert Valentien decorated mahogany glaze vases. Most of the pieces were destroyed, and the few which survived were damaged. But those which did survive were imbued with a remarkable crystaline quality. It took years of experimentation to recreate the effect, which was later sold by Rookwood as tiger eye glaze. Even then, only 1 in 100 were saleable. It was previously believed that all of the pieces from the disaster had been lost to history.
Today we would like to present for your consideration, a rare survivor from the 1884 kiln accident. Stamped appropriately Rookwood, 1884, 172 (shape number), and R (for red clay), it also is inscribed ARV for Albert Robert Valentien. Shape 172 in the famous book by Peck indicates the vase would have had a fluted top, which was likely lost in the kiln collapse.
The vase is hand thrown, and carries two decorations by Valentien. One side displays a large and wide spray of wildflowers, their colors blackened by the accident. The other shows a dragonfly, it's wings a burnt yellow. Amazingly, it is without crazing.
Under normal light, the vase appears a glossy blackish brown, and relatively uninteresting. But under bright light or direct sunlight, it sparkles with a brilliant tiger eye effect. Bands of green and yellow glaze pool on each ridge and are specked with dense fields of gold. Around the top, the greens give way to deep maroon, still speckled with starry gold sparks as if to simulate the milky way itself. This was the effect that sent Rookwood on a years long experimentation program to recreate.
It is difficult enough to find Rookwood Tiger eye pieces, but to find one of the vases from the original kiln disaster is unheard of in modern collecting. The collector of this vase will not only have a beautiful piece to display, but will be the caretaker of a rare piece of American art pottery history.
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H: 11 3/4", Base: 4" , Rim: 7/8" ID2030a
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