These are four pottery pieces, made by Shawnee Pottery company, in the 1950s. The first two pieces are a pair of tall bud vases. Each vase has a white interior, a yellowish-gold ribbed exterior, and a mottled finish that has splashes of dark gold. It is also marked, on its underside, with the words “Shawnee, U.S.A.” and with the style no. “1402”. The second two pieces are a pair of deer planters/vases. Each planter/vase is rectangular-shaped, with a cut-out at its center. There is a figure of a deer that is sitting in the center-opening and that is attached to the bottom of the rectangle. The sides of the rectangle have the effect of creating a thick frame or shadowbox around the animal. The frame has leaves carved onto its front and back and is a lighter tone of green than the green color of the deer. Because each long side of the planter/vase has its own opening at the top, each piece is actually a double planter/vase. Each one is also marked, on its underside, with the words “Shawnee, U.S.A.” and the style no. “850”.
Shawnee Pottery was founded in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1937. It was initially managed by Addis E. Hull Jr., who was the son of the founder of Hull Pottery Company, in nearby Crooksville, Ohio. It was staffed with former designers from Weller, Roseville, and Frankoma pottery companies. Over the years, Shawnee made vases, novelty ware, teapots, flowerpots, planters, lamps, cookie jars, dinnerware (including its famous Corn Ware), and serving ware. For a short period in the late 1930s, it also produced pottery for George Rumrill’s pottery company. Shawnee owed its initial success to the fact that it was price competitive and sold orders to S.S. Kresge Co., F.W. Woolworth Co., and other dime stores. It also had a commission from Sears, for one of its dinnerware lines. In the 1940s, Shawnee had its greatest period of success. This was largely because the use of an underglaze hand-painting technique improved the quality and appearance of the company’s products. Its early production pieces had been cold-painted, over the glaze, and the painting wore off quickly. Some of the 1940s success was also due to the fact that there was not a lot of competition from foreign pottery makers, which were in ruins because of World War II. By the 1950s, the war had ended and there was a resurgence of foreign competition, for U.S. manufacturers. To remain competitive, Shawnee’s new management radically restyled the company’s product lines, creating extremely modern lines of planters, vases, and tableware. In the 1950s, Shawnee products were selling in upscale stores and some of the new lines sold very well, but this was not enough to save the company. The availability of cheap imports had a very negative impact on Shawnee and the company closed in 1961.
Many planters and vases that were made by Shawnee in the 1950s were either very fanciful or very modern. Fanciful planters and vases had animals and other figures, either as their shapes or molded onto/into parts of their bodies. Modern planters and vases had geometric shapes and/or were molded with designs that gave the appearances of textured finishes, such as wood bark, basket-weave, rope, burlap, and leather (with laced edges). Other 1950s modern lines were the result of the development of a spray painting technique, which created finishes (on very streamlined forms) that were mottled, splattered, or speckled.
The bud vases are 2 1/2 inches (at their widest points) by 11 inches (high). The deer planters/vases are 5 inches (wide) by 9 inches (high) by 3 1/2 inches (in depth).
These items are in very good condition, with no chips or cracks. One of the deer planters/vases has a minor manufacturing flaw on its backside, of an extra ‘drip’ of dark green glazing at the bottom of the deer’s hind leg. (See images nos. 8 and 9.)
Four 1950s Shawnee Pottery Pieces, Pair of Mottled Gold Bud Vases and Pair of Two-Toned Green Deer Planters/Vases