Tag Archives: identifying W. German pottery

Keys to the Company: Scheurich Keramik

sch.cop  1. They were better at glazes than shapes. While Scheurich designers produced a few excellent forms, many of the shapes ranged from poor to only fair. Some, such as the classic 517, were very good in terms of proportions but not inventive.

2. The number of glazes produced from the mid 1950s through the mid 1980s is almost beyond imagining or counting. With such numbers, there were many mediocre results, but Scheurich also produced some of the most impressive glazes of the era. “Market” value is almost entirely based on glaze with the exception of a few shapes with better design. A shape such as 271 designed by Heinz Siery is very commonly available, and common or lesser decorations should usually be in the $15 range. The best and rarest so far known can justify a price in the $150 range.

3. Scheurich re-used form numbers more than other companies. Searching or identifying Scheurich based on the shape number and size is problematic at best because many numbers were used 2-4 times. Shapes are sometimes similar, sometimes barely related.

4. Scheurich number placement varies, sometimes around the edge, sometimes centered. Form numbers are 3 digits, and the following number is the approximate size in centimeters. Until the late 1970s or 80s, Scheurich never included the company name. A little later they started using an embossed “three-circle” mark. Most items with this mark are lesser quality and unlikely to become collectible. If you see an item with only “Germany” and the three-circle mark, it’s almost certainly post-reunification.sch.vol.bl

5. Scheurich used white/buff clay. I am not aware of a single piece of Scheurich in any other clay, but the glaze does sometimes stain the clay slightly.

6. Some of the embossed designs and a few other forms have their own name. These include Vienna/Wien, Ceramos, Jura, and Coral/Koralle. Be aware that some items have “collector” names that were given before the company names were known. A prime example is Amsterdam, which was dubbed Onion since the design looks like a cut onion. However, the name Amsterdam reveals that the design is actually based on the image of a tulip bulb.

7. Scheurich floor vases with animals are among the most popular scheurich.267.20.botwith collectors, but the quality varies, especially when the primary glaze overruns the decoration. Value should take both the glaze and the quality of the individual piece into consideration. This is always true but applies particularly strongly with these items.

8. Scheurich was by far the largest producer, so most items are common. The company is still in business and has released the 271 shape (now marked with a clear plastic label) and has re-issued Amsterdam, but the design does not continue to the rim as it did on the originals.

Pictures show a fairly common Scheurich floor vase shape with an uncommon  glaze, one of Scheurich’s “all over” volcanic glazes, and example of “fat lava”, and a fairly typical Scheurich base, keeping in mind that  the bases were almost as numerous as the glazes….or so it seems when trying to sort them out.

For more information plus items for sale, visit our home page…..not just the usual suspects.

Scheurich and the Shape Number Problem

Horst Makus and Kevin Graham have both published extensive lists of shape numbers and height combinations and which companies produced them.  You may also get results simply by entering a shape number and size into a Google search.  However, the lists and searches can be deceptive.  Aside from the issues of accuracy (and much of the information on the net is out of date or simply wrong), many companies re-used shape numbers.

Since Scheurich produced tremendous quantity for most of the W. German era, many glazes, many shapes, and many sizes, they were the “worst” about re-using numbers.  After all, they had the choice of going up and up in shape numbers or re-using numbers.  Companies often used particular series for particular shapes (such as something in the 800 range for non-handled vases by Ruscha for many years), it was more convenient for them to re-use numbers.  After all, companies weren’t concerned with what would help or hinder collectors decades later.

So a Scheurich 201, 275, 414 and others may appear in two, three, even four shape variations.  In some cases, the shapes are quite similar.  With two versions of shape 275, the primary difference is simply whether the top of the handle is curved (earlier version) or straight.  In other cases, the the shapes bear little resemblance to one another.  We’re taught to trust numbers, those things that supposedly never lie, but when collecting West German pottery, keep in mind that even if the numbers don’t lie, they can certainly be deceptive.  When trying to identify W. German pottery, numbers, glazes, forms, clay color, even the style of the numbers and their placement should all be considered before declaring, “I know who made this one.”  Even then, mistakes can be made.  I know.  I’ve made at least one or two….or so.

For more information and items for sale, visit http://ginforsodditiques.com,  not just the usual suspects.

Bay, Bodo Mans, and What’s in a Name

Bodo Mans is one of the few designers who had established some reputation before he designed for a West German pottery company, and collectors were seeking his works for Bay years before W. German pottery became a popular collectible.  Indeed, some of them sold higher then as Bodo Mans items than they do now as Bay or West German.  Although this early popularity has not translated into higher prices today, it has certainly become a hot keyword with the usual results.

Based on information in the Horst Makus books, there are a few decors in the early 1960s attributed to Mans, including Reims in 1960, Istanbul in 1961, and Ravenna, also 1961.  I believe some others in that era have also been documented, but I’m not certain.

Bay Keramik vase 575
Bay shape 575 with a circa 1960 decor, no current attribution to designer.

However, I tend to doubt that Mans designed every work that gets attributed to him on the internet.  It seems that every embossed design gets attributed to Mans, even if it was designed after Mans had switched to freelance work (which makes it possible but less likely for a Bay design to be by Mans).

Of course, the reality is that the name of the designer has no more effect on the aesthetics of an item than does the name of the company.  Yes, it’s of interest to know who made the items, and it certainly makes searches easier.  The great advantage and disadvantage of the internet is the importance of being able to run a precise search.  However, we can’t let ourselves be tricked into raising market values based on names….not the name of the designer, not the name of the company, and not the name of

someone who goes on tv and says a particular item is interesting (more on that eventually in a Roth entry).  We say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe that the beholder has a responsibility to train that eye.  Collect what you want, but respect and appreciate it for what it is, good, bad, or indifferent.

If you got here without going to the main site, you can get there by clicking here: ginforsodditiques.com. You’ll find more information plus items for sale…….not just the usual suspects.

From Jopeko to Stein: A Major Attribution Change in West German Pottery

Unfortunately, when research and documentation first began in West German pottery, it wasn’t always done with stringent Stein Keramik shape 4 20documentation.  There were assumptions that became accepted as gospel, and now that more documentation is being done along with more conversation, better exchange of information, it’s sometimes an uphill battle to not simply prove an item was made by a particular company but to prove that it wasn’t made by the company everyone believed.  Such is the case with the Jopeko to Stein shift.

Until early 2016, Stein was a very little known company, and even those of us who knew it existed thought the company had stein.4.20.botproduced a small amount of pleasant but uninspired pottery.  Then, some people started pointing out that certain forms attributed to Jopeko had never been found with a company mark or label.  In particular, Günther Heinrich Stein Keramik Shape 9 20Wulf and Guido Van den Heule started digging, pushing, and exchanging pictures on Facebook.  The result was that while none of these forms turned up confirmed as Jopeko, some shapes were found with a Stein mark.

Now, Stein is one of the big players with some very impressive glazes.  Jopeko remains a major company with great forms and glazes, but a few of their best are suddenly on a new team.  In particular, shape numbers 6, 7, 9, 11, 40, 42, 44, 47, 50, 56,  70, 80, and 92 are Stein.  stein.9.20.mark.gunther

It will likely be another year or two before the proper attributions start showing up around the internet, but it’s always more important to buy the item, not the name.  The aesthetics don’t change when the attribution does, but it still comes under the heading of keeping an open mind and checking your resources.  We’ve made huge strides in learning which company made what, but there is a lot more to learn in what is certainly the widest, deepest, most varied pottery period in history.

If you got here without visiting the main site, you can get there by clicking here: ginforsodditiques.com.  You’ll find more information plus items for sale……not just the usual suspects.

Photos of shape 9/20 and the base courtesy of Günther Heinrich Wulf.  Much appreciated.

The Fat Lava Insanity

For my first post, I’m jumping right in with pet peeve time.  While I ES Keramik glaze, excellent fat lava examplelove the phrase fat lava, it is terribly over-used, misused, and abused.  First of all, “fat lava” and “W. German pottery” are not synonymous.  Depending on how tightly you define fat lava, I would guess that less than 15% of W. German pottery qualifies.

The phrase became an overnight sensation when Mark Hill published the expanded show catalog with the name “Fat Lava”, and some people think that’s where the phrase began.  Like most overnight sensations, this one was actually years in the making since eBay sellers had been using the phrase for a long time before the show or catalog.  There are disagreements over Carstens vase with rough texture but not fat lavathe origin, and it will never really be known, but based on the glazes sellers were trying to describe, my guess remains that it’s a computer translation problem.

The glazes described were sometimes volcanic, often “runny” or “drip” glazes.  However, while early 20th century drip glazes are the same level as the surrounding glazes, these “fat” glazes are significantly thicker than the glaze level they cover, sticking up from the body of the vase.  I believe that “thick” got translated as “fat”, Steuler vase designed by Heiner Balzaarand the phrase worked so well that it stuck.

Then, it worked so well after the release of “Fat Lava” that sellers began using it as a keyword to get attention, and it got applied to everything, thicScheurich Keramik vase with volcanic fat lava glazek or thin.  I’ll still use the phrase when needed, but it’s rather like a friend that insisted on hanging around enough to become an irritant.  If you love West and East German pottery, give it enough respect to call the pieces by their own name, as close as  possible with what we know so far, anyway.

If you reached this blog without going to the main site, you can get there by clicking here: ginforsodditiques.com.  You’ll find more information plus items for sale…….not just the usual suspects.