Lines of Ware Gonder Pottery

Lines of Ware

  Few records exist from production years at Gonder Ceramic Arts.  We do however have access to a few salesman price lists.  These sheets are shown in both previously published reference guides.  Some are also available at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio.  These lists were used by salesmen and retailers to place orders.  For ease of ordering, pricing and manufacturing, pieces were grouped by lines of wares.  Items may also be grouped by size within a line.  Below is an outline of the various lines produced at Gonder Ceramic Arts.  
 

As collectors and dealers, it is helpful for us to use the correct line of ware in our discussions.  Being able to correctly assign the line of ware for a given piece, adds clarity and focus to the discussions you may have with other collectors and dealers.  For example, we are more concise when we can say the H-5 vase from the Standard Line as opposed to trying to describe the piece.  As we will see when discussing value, the line of ware will have an affect on the value of the piece.  
 

Known lines of wares are:


  • Gonder Standard
  • Gonder Imperial
  • Gonder Original
  • Gonder Ceramic Arts 
  • Gonder Sovereign China 
  • La Gonda Luncheon Ware

 

Of interest is the fact that for the Gonder Imperial line, the salesman sheet indicates both a description and number for each item.  This is the only line where we have insight into what Gonder named each piece!  When applicable, I will use both the name and number when discussing pieces from the Imperial Line.

Standard Line

Standard Line

 Introduction:  Gonder Standard is one of the two initial lines produced at Gonder.  Standard Line pieces are generally the most commonly found pieces - indicating they were popular with the buying public and hence produced in large quantities.  Production of the Standard Line began in early 1942.  Production for the line was eliminated as new lines of wares were introduced - although exact dates are not known.  
 

However, several popular pieces from the Standard Line continued to be produced throughout the life of the pottery.  Such pieces were re-introduced using glazes developed for other lines of wares as they became available.   Items E-3, E-12, H-69, H-73, J-31 and J-60 are a few items that can be found in most if not all production glazes.  
 

Marks:  Pieces in the Standard Line were assigned an alpha-numeric mold ID.  The alphabetic character is the series indicator and is loosely based on the size of the piece.  Pieces in the B series are the smallest.  The size of the piece increase as you progress through the various series.  The largest pieces in the line belong to the M series.  Valid alphabetic series designations are B, E, H, J, K, L, M and P.  A copy of a Gonder Price List indicates the approximate sizes of each series as:

B - 4 3/4"
E - 6 1/2"
H - 8 1/2"
J - 11"
K - 12 1/2"
L - 13"
M - 14"

 Most Standard Line pieces have a numeric value between 1 and 99, however, some pieces have 3 digit numbers (ex. 601, 773).   Examples of Standard Line pieces using using this alpha-numeric system are:  E-3, H-69, H-601, J-773, L-14 and P-24.
 

In addition, a few pieces in the Standard Line can be found with multiple mold numbers.  For example, the E-3 vase has been found marked E-3, E-303 or 303; the E-65 ewer is found marked E-65, E-365 or 365.  It is not fully understood why this change in mold numbers was implemented.  
 

It is my observation that popular pieces from the Standard Line were often (but not always) assigned a new mold number when re-introduced using a glaze that was developed for other lines of wares.  For example, E-12 becomes 312, H-69 becomes 669 and J-60 becomes 860 when found in a glaze from the Gonder Original line.  This change in mold number goes unnoticed by most dealers and collectors, but may help in signifying the piece being produced in a less common glaze.
 

Glaze Finishes:  Pieces from the Standard Line are finished in various glaze treatments and nearly all have the well known pink interior glaze treatment.  Glazes include (but are not limited to) Ebony Green, Royal Purple, Wine Brown, Mother of Pearl Lustre, Shell Pink Lustre, Gold Lustre, Antique Gold, White Chinese Crackle, Turquoise Chinese Crackle, and Antique Gold Crackle.  For specifics on these glazes please see the glazes section of the web site.  
 

Notes:  The Gonder Price List indicates that items were ordered using the group (series letter) and the glaze desired.   The numeric mold value was not identified in the price list.  Prices quoted were per dozen indicating an assortment of available items from the group would be included in the dozen.  Gonder did honor special orders so it is possible that a merchant could order specific pieces and glazes should they require that for their business.    
 

Pieces from the Gonder Standard Line consist of figures, console bowls and/or console sets (bowls and coordinating candleholders), planters, vases, and a few kitchenware items.  In your collecting efforts, you will find many examples of E, H and J series pieces.  However, few pieces were assigned to the B, K, L, M and P series.  There are only four known pieces in each of the B and K series; three pieces in each of the M and P series; and only two pieces in the L series.  
 

A note about RumRill:  Many designs from this line are easily located with a RumRill mark and glaze.  These pieces were produced for RumRill by Florence Pottery in Mt.Gilead, Ohio where Lawton Gonder was the general manager.  The factory burned in October 1941 and was closed.  Many molds used at Florence were purchased for use by Gonder at his newly organized pottery in Zanesville, Ohio.  The reuse of these molds allowed Gonder to quickly bring pieces to market under the Gonder name.
 

Note that not all pieces from RumRill were put into production at Gonder.  Since Gonder had managed the production of these pieces at Florence Pottery, he would have been well aware of production issues or slow sales associated with a given piece.  It is likely he eliminated pieces from the line that were not cost effective to produce.  Therefore, you will find lapses in the numbering sequence of Gonder pieces.  For example, we find the H-5 and H-7 pieces carried forward to the Gonder Standard Line, but the H-6 piece has not been located with a Gonder mark or in a known Gonder glaze.  This would indicate it was not used in production by Gonder.  
 

RumRill had many more series than Gonder.  Only a few pieces from RumRill series A, D, F, G, I, R and S were carried forward.  Those pieces that were carried forward to Gonder were issued a new mold number. 

Imperial Line

Imperial Line

Introduction:  Gonder Imperial is one of the initial two lines of wares produced by Gonder.  As is evidenced from The Zanesville Recorder, the #500 Console Bowl was the very first piece produced in early 1942.  As with the Standard Line, many of these pieces also had a life as RumRill pieces.  However, Gonder expanded this line with many of his own pieces.  This line is where be begin to see Gonder's fascination with duplicating Chinese museum pieces -- including bottles, jars and vases.  
 

Imperial line pieces with mold numbers #518 and above were not used by RumRill and are unique to Gonder.  The exception to this is the popular Modern Cat Figure #521 which previously produced at RumRill and marked S-3.
 

Marks:  Pieces in the Imperial Line were assigned a mold number between 500 and 551.   As with other lines, not all numbers were used - ie #502 and #507 as missing from the price list and no known examples have been found.  Pieces are marked Gonder or Gonder USA in block or script.  The block style mark was used in early production pieces.  The block style was replaced with the unmistakable Gonder script but the exact date the script was introduced is not known.


 Glaze Finishes:  Pieces from the Imperial Line are finished in various glaze treatments and nearly all have the well known pink interior glaze treatment.  Glazes include (but are not limited to) Ebony Green, Royal Purple, Wine Brown, Mother of Pearl Lustre, Shell Pink Lustre, Gold Lustre, Antique Gold, White Chinese Crackle, Turquoise Chinese Crackle, and Antique Gold Crackle. 

In addition to these glazes, Chinese shape pieces from the Imperial Line were also offered in Ming Yellow and Celadon Green.  

For specifics on glazes please see the glazes section of the web site.  
 

Notes:  The Gonder price list indicates that items were ordered using the style number (mold) and the glaze desired.   Prices quoted were per dozen.   Prices ranged from a low of $6.60 per dozen to a high of $150.00 per dozen.   Given normal retail mark up allowances, some of these pieces would have retailed for $25 to $40 - quite a lot of money for a vase in the 1940's!    
 

Pieces from the Imperial Line include figures, console bowls and/or console sets (bowls and candleholders), jars, planters and vases.  Imperial line pieces vary widely in size from the small  4" Kneeling Coolie figure (#547), to the enormous 17.5" Chinese Bottle (#531).  

The Chinese shape pieces in the Imperial Line consist of vases, bottles and jars. The price list refers to the jars as vases with lids.  The three vases with lids (#529, #530 and #533) are often found missing the lid.  The value of the piece is greatly reduced when missing the lid.

Six of the Chinese shape pieces were offered with an optional base (#527, #530, #531, #533, #534 and #535).  The bases were specific to the piece and offered in Nubian Black and Ivory White glazes.  The bases are rare and very desirable to collectors.  Bases can easily add $50 to the value of the item.  Ivory bases are extremely rare and I have yet to find one to add to my collection. 

Original Line

Original Line

Introduction:  As popularity for wares produced by Gonder continued, he secured well known designers to create pieces for his new line – Gonder Original. Designs from the Gonder Original line are some of the most spectacular pieces. These designs pushed home décor from an era of 1940’s Hollywood Classic to the Retro 1950’s often associated with Gonder. 


Pieces from the Gonder Original line were assigned mold numbers and grouped by series – 100 series through the 1200 series. Pieces within a series are loosely grouped by category or function. For example, pieces from the 700 series are generally modern style planters. Pieces from the 1200 series are bottle vases and pitchers. Of course there are many exceptions to these groupings.


Thankfully, not every number from 100 to 1200 is used in production by Gonder – we would never complete our collections had this been the case!  


New innovative glazes were developed for the Original line and the line is extremely popular with collectors.   
 

Marks:  Pieces in the Original Line were assigned a mold number between 100 and 1299.   As with other lines, not all numbers were used.  Pieces are marked Gonder Original in script.  


Glaze Finishes:  Pieces from the Original Line are finished in various glaze treatments.  The pink interior glaze is gone and the interior glaze now matches the base color of the exterior glaze.  Glazes include newly developed drip glazes include the White Foam drip glazes.  For specifics on glazes please see the glazes section of the web site.  
 

Pieces from the Original Line include animal figures, console bowls and/or console sets (bowls and candleholders), planters and vases.  

Ceramic Arts Line

Ceramic Arts Line

Introduction: Some of Gonders most recognizable designs are from the Ceramic Arts Line. This line of wares consists of figural pieces from far away places carrying pots, baskets, buckets, gourds and sedan chairs. The each figure is clothed in garments of their native land and carries a specific pot, basket, bucket, gourd or chair. Gonder produced eight different figural sets! Three of these sets have known variations which means as a collector you may have up to twelve sets on your self! I will outline these variations below. Sets most often consist of one male and one female figure. However there is one set that consists of two female figures and one set that consists of two male figures. Additionally, one style was produced as a single female figure – although it is possible that buyers would have purchased them as a pair. 

As mentioned above, each figural set comes with a container specific to that set. Beware of shady dealers that will mismatch colors or styles of containers to give the appearance of a complete set. Sets should only be considered complete when the correct container is present and in the correct color. 

While some complete sets are easy to locate, others are very elusive and nearly impossible to find with all correct pieces intact! It is possible to create a complete set from items found one at a time, but it certainly requires significant patience. There are two sets that I have been working of for years and am beginning to wonder if I will ever complete them. Please note the completeness of a set when pondering a purchase as that significantly affects the value. The availability rating provided below is for complete sets. You may find sets with missing components more easily. Note that sets are most often found with original black “fishing line” holding the container. Some sets will be found with replacement cords or chains. This does not seem to affect the value of the set.


Marks:  Most pieces from the Ceramic Arts line are marked on the piece – although it is sometimes overlooked by dealers because the mark is not on the bottom, but rather on the back of the piece near the bottom. Pieces will sometimes contain the original silver and blue foil label. 


Glaze Finishes:  The Ceramic Arts figures are most often found in four solid color glazes: Chartreuse, Forest Green, Victorian Wine and Dove Grey. Figures have also been found in Ivory White and Black. While I expect these were production glazes, they may have been special order and collectors consider them very rare. These will often demand a premium when available for sale. Figures have also been found in other glazes but I expect these were special order or presentation pieces. These are considered scarce. 

 

  • #762 Small Polynesian Woman Basket Carriers – Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail D) – the smaller, more difficult to locate of two sizes. Most often mistaken for candleholder as the basket is nearly always missing.
  • #762 Large Polynesian Woman Basket Carriers – Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail D) – larger of two sizes. Most often mistaken for candleholder as the basket is nearly always missing.
  • #762 Large Topless Polynesian Woman Basket Carriers – Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail E) – larger of two sizes. The topless version is believed to have been released for a short time only. Public reaction required this figure to be reconfigured to include the floral lei covering her bust. Most often mistaken for candleholder as the basket is nearly always missing. One of the most desired of the Ceramic Arts Figures!
  • #763 Bali Water Carriers – @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail C) – popular with Gonder collectors as well as Tiki and Hawaii-ana collectors. Gourd style container.
  • #763 Topless Bali Water Carriers – @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail E) – popular with Gonder collectors as well as Tiki and Hawaii-ana collectors. Gourd style container. The topless version is believed to have been released for a short time only. Public reaction required this figure to be reconfigured to include the top. The base of the topless set is much smaller than the later version. One of the most desired of the Ceramic Arts Figures!
  • #764 Indian Basket Porters - @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail C-D) – complete set includes two male porters, basket and pole. Basket and pole are most often missing. Pole mimics bamboo. 
  • #765 Chinese Women Sedan Chair Carriers – Paper Label (Avail D) – complete set includes two female carriers, sedan chair and two poles. Sedan chair and poles are most often missing. Pole mimics bamboo.
  • #766 Basque Dancer Figures - Paper Label (Avail C) – unmarked and often unidentifiable to dealers. Unique looking figures.
  • #777 Chinese Water Porters @1949 – Copywrite 1949 The Gonder Ceramic Arts (ink stamp) (Avail C) – this is the initial set of figures. Changed in 1950, this set is more difficult to find. The figures are rather plain with little foliage at the bottom. Shoes and sleeves will be modified in 1950.
  • #777 Chinese Water Porters @1950 - @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail B) – modified from the 1949 version, these are more easily found and were widely popular. Shoes and sleeves were modified from the 1949 version. Beautiful foliage added to the bottom of the figures. Note: I purchased a pair from a woman who indicated they belonged to her mother. Her mother indicated she hid the receipt from her husband for many years because they cost $35. I cannot verify it, but $35 would have been a chunk of change in the 1950’s!
  • #777 Chinese Water Porters @1950 - @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail C) – modified to act as a wall hanging. Figures will have a knob like bump on the back with the hole for wall mounting. I believe this set was meant to have buckets that have straight sides (not flared) - so that the buckets would not bump the wall while hanging. More difficult to find than previous version.
  • #785 Crouching Indian Porters - @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail D) – very difficult to find. I have yet to see a complete set with correct baskets. Dressed in full length sarong. 
  • NA Gay 90’s Figures - @1950 Gonder Ceramic Arts (Avail D) – very difficult to find. Unknown mold number. The correct baskets are difficult to find for this set. Male figure has added sleeping puppy at his feet.

Sovereign China

Sovereign China

Introduction:  Gonder Soverign is perhaps the smallest line produced by Gonder. It was a line of cigarette wares produced in a high quality vitreous china. Pieces are very light in weight.  


Glaze treatments offered on the Soverign line are solid color pastel glazes – the least “Gonder like” glaze you can imagine. 


As you may guess, these pieces are hard to find because labels were nearly always removed. The pastel glaze color would not be of any assistance in determining the maker for the novice dealer or collector. The line was discontinued assumingly due to slow sales or production issues.  
 

Marks:  Pieces in the Soveregin Line were assigned a mold number between 800 and 808 although pieces are not marked with these numbers.   Pieces were marked with a silver or gold and black foil label.    


Glaze Finishes:  Pieces from the Sovereign Line are finished in White, Celadon Green, Royal Blue, Shell Pink or Azure Blue.   
 


La Gonda Luncheon Ware

La Gonda Luncheon Ware

Introduction: The La Gonda Luncheon Ware line was a short lived line comprised of plates, bowls, mugs, cups, tea pots, platters and other coordinating serving pieces.  It was likely meant to compete with the snack sets being produced at the time.  Pieces are large and heavy.  Pieces were not popular with the public and examples are in short supply.    
 

Marks:  Pieces in the La Gonda line were assigned a mold number between 900 and 950 although pieces are not marked with these numbers.   Pieces were marked with a blue ink stamp indicating "This piece individually handcrafted by Gonder".    


Glaze Finishes:  Pieces from the La Gonda line are finished in Grey (pale blue), Yellow, Coral and Turquoise Green.  


Note:  Some pieces from this line were later used in the Original Line.  These pieces are marked as such and will be finished in Original line glazes - most often solid colors with white foam drip.