Collectors Guide To Roseville Pottery Olympic, 1907

What is Olympic?

Olympic is a line of art pottery produced in 1907 by the Roseville Pottery Company in Zanesville, Ohio.

Who designed Olympic?

The Olympic line takes its imagery from the etchings of John Flaxman (1755-1826).

The high cost of the Della Robbia line led Frederick Rhead and John Herold in search of a cheaper way to manufacture wares that could cheaply fill the consumer demand for grecian ceramics of antiquity. Their solution was the Olympic line.

Collectors often dismiss these pieces as simple decal decoration, but the process was far more complicated than that, and still required many steps. Copper plates were made for the designs, which were painted with various slips and oils. Oil-treated tissue was pressed onto the plate, and used to transfer the slip to still-wet greenware forms. Artists then followed the pattern and touched up those areas which did not transfer corrrectly. Finally, a clear glaze was sprayed over the work before firing. The process was still-too time intensive, and so the line was quickly dropped for simple economic reasons.

When was Olympic made?

The Olympic line was only produced in 1907.

There are no surviving catalog pages to indicate how many designs or forms were produced. There are currently 12 forms / designs known. The Rozane Olympic line is quite possibly the rarest of any line, with less than a few dozen known examples in various collections and museums. It may be possible that the line was only experimental, and never sold through any retail outlet, and there is currently no evidence that it was made available to the public in any reasonable number.

All of the decoration was adapted from the work of John Flaxman (1755-1826) from his etchings used as illustrations for “The Illiad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer, as well as “Works and Days” by Hesiod and “The Persians” by Aeschylus . Their use at that time was not considered as plagerism, as the works were popular and well-known to the art-purchasing public. They were more of an homage to what were considered as desirable classic designs. The design on the “Muses” vase appear to be the work of Flaxman, but research of known illustrations have been unable to identify the source. The same is true of the “Triptolemos” Tankard.

Below are known shapes and designs.

Collectors Guide To Roseville Pottery Olympic, 1907
Roseville Olympic Hours Vase
Roseville Olympic Lampetia Vase
Roseville Olympic Aurora Vase
Roseville Olympic Euryclea Vase
Roseville Olympic Atossa Vase
Roseville Olympic Ulysses Pitcher
Roseville Olympic Ulysses Pitcher
Roseville Olympic Morning Vase
Roseville Olympic Triptolemos and Muses Vases
Roseville Olympic Phemnius Stein

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