No one wants to purchase pottery they’re convinced is authentic, only to discover later they’ve been had. It’s difficult for many of us reconcile in our minds there are those out there who prey on new collectors or those not familiar with any one specific collection’s markings. Add to the confusion the fact many collections have more than one authentic marking, it can soon become overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. If you do your research before you begin your quest for Van Briggle pottery, you’re well on your way to making informed purchases based on a solid understanding of what the markings indicate – even when all indications point to a less than noble sales person.
It’s important to understand the method behind the pottery’s markings, which, in this case is the realization of the only consistency during the first years is the inconsistency in its marking methods. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to the clay’s coloring and textures – especially those pieces from the first two decades of the 1900s.
There was a brief period from around 1900 until early 1907 when the pottery was, as a rule, accurately marked. On these pieces, the Van Briggle logo, date, the shape’s number and a Roman numeral are often present. Look for the Roman numeral III, as it’s indicative of pieces created in 1902 and 1903. The Roman Numeral V lets you know it’s a piece made in 1904 while those produced in 1905 are often marked with several different Roman Numerals, including V, X VV and VX. Fortunately, Van Briggle ceased using the confusing and often contradictory method of incorporating Roman Numerals. It’s at this time “Colorado Springs” or “Colo Springs” was introduced and the inclusion of either of these markings will accurately date the pottery.
1907 brought with it markings that include the logo, Van Briggle, Colo Spgs, the shape number and the date. Later that same year, finisher numbers were commonly added to one or both sides of the double “A” (AA) logo. This method was used through 1912, along with an occasional full date written out.
1913, Van Briggle produced pottery that was characterized by the inclusion of the Double “A” logo and the date. For a brief time in 1915 and into 1916, there were pieces created with an incised shape number accompanied by the logo and date.
For the last few years leading up to 1920, any of the Van Briggle pottery not dated is usually marked with the logo and “VAN BRIGGLE” written out in all caps or written in script. Another tell-tale date indicator is the darker clay bottom. It’s sometimes referred to as a “dirty bottom” amongst collectors. Still another trend took root during 1920. Along with the logo, you can often find the number “20”, which of course, indicates its creation in 1920.
The important thing to remember as you’re looking to build your Van Briggle collection is to familiarize yourself with the variations. Although there were several, once you’ve learned to accurately identify these beautiful pottery pieces, you’re well on your way to building your collection that you’ll cherish and enjoy forever – which is the whole purpose in collective Van Briggle pottery.