Van Briggle Pottery Artist Signs (Rare Etcher & Potter Marks)

If you love collecting old Van Briggle Pottery like me, you must’ve seen those small alphabets or marks incised on their base, along with the Van Briggle pottery trademarks. These are the Van Briggle Pottery artist marks that can identify the maker and age of a Van Briggle piece.

However, since the Van Briggle Pottery Co. worked with 150+ artists during its business years, it’s difficult for collectors to decode all those initials and marks.

In this guide, you will learn about all Van Briggle pottery artists and their crucial marks with easy hand-drawn references. In addition, you will find some important etchers, finishers, and glazer marks in the end.

Introduction to Van Briggle Pottery Artists

Soon after their first sale in 1902, Artus Van Briggle & his wife, Anne Van Briggle (aka Anne Louise Gregory or Anne Lawrence Gregory), hired a team of 14 artists to design their pottery.

The first potter to join the Van Briggle Pottery Co. was Ambrose Schlegel, who created the company’s first plain design line. In 1905, Julius Brauer joined the company and introduced matte Turquoise and Persian glazes.

Then, in 1940, Nellie Walker, Van Briggle’s first female sculptor, designed the first animal-based vases and figurines. The Van Briggle Pottery Company worked with many lead artists like Clem Hull, Fred Wills, Joe Jezek, and Nelson Curtis in the 1900s.

These artists brought refined throwing techniques, mold-making, and metallic glazes like Wisteria and Ming Turquoise to Van Briggle Pottery.

Overall, the company worked with over 150+ artists, including potters, etchers, and glazers, until 2014. You can identify these artists by their initials, signs, or numbers below or along the company mark on the pottery base.

11 Most Important Van Briggle Potter Marks

Artus & his wife, Anna, used simple brand marks for their early pieces. Some used a simple A mark (for Artus Briggle), while others had an AA logo (for Artus & Anna Van Briggle). The ones made after Artus’s death might have an ‘Anna Van Briggle’ mark with ‘Colo Spgs.’

Then, in 1903, the Van Briggle Pottery Co. hired many art students who could throw and shape the local Sherman clay on the wheel. Some of these students became renowned potters and started adding their marks on their pottery to distinguish their ceramic art.

Here is a list of the 11 most famous Van Briggle Potters with their signs and active years:

1. Ambrose Schlegel (1902 – 1931)

Ambrose Schlegel Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Ambrose Schlegel Van Briggle Pottery Monogram
Van Briggle Pottery Marked with Ambrose Schlegel's Sign

Ambrose Schlegel was Van Briggle’s first master potter from 1902 to 1931. He mostly worked on plain, thrown forms with colored green, red, and purple glazes.

His most notable works include the execution of the Despondency Van Briggle vase (an early vase showing a woman on her knees), the Peacock Feather vase, and the Trillium vase. In 1927, Ambrose also designed the Indian Chief vase with a relief of an Indian chief’s head and feathers.

However, the original plain vases signed by Ambrose Schlegel are hardly found today. Instead, the pottery bears the initials of the other etchers and glazers, such as Joy Baker and Amber Burt.

2. Harry Bangs (Early 1900s)

A former Rookwood Pottery artist, Harry Bangs assisted Artus Van Briggle with his early vases and figurines. During this time, Bangs worked as a primary potter and created many beautiful Art Nouveau designs for the company.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many specific pieces to identify the real Harry Bang’s mark. Most of his work, I believe, just has the brand’s logo like other 1900s Van Briggle Pottery pieces.

3. Nellie Walker (Around 1940s)

Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Artist Nellie Walker

A top American sculptor, Nellie Walker is known for her Beaux-Arts-style pottery and life-size animal figurines.

Her other famous works include the Daydreamer design (features a woman resting her head on her hand), the Indian Maiden design, and the Owl Bookends.

4. Clem Hull (1946 – 1965)

Clem Hull's Signature on Van Briggle Pottery
1946 – 1948 Clem Hull Mark
Clem Hull Signed Van Briggle Pottery
1948 – 1952 Clem Hull Mark
Old Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Clem Hull
1952 – 1965 Clem Hull Mark

Clem Hull (short for Clement Marot Hull) was Van Briggle’s lead potter from 1946 to 1965 and a very accomplished artist. In 1946, Hull experimented with the Moonglo & Mulberry (aka Persian Rose) glazes and created large 12 – 20-inch Van Briggle vases and figurines.

Then, in 1956, Clement Hull developed the ‘Gold Ore’ glaze by using natural, powdered gold ore from the Cripple Creek Gold Mines. Usually, signed ‘gold-ware’ glaze items have an alphabetical ‘G’ mark with the logo and artist’s sign on the base.

5. Fred Wills (1947 – 1988)

Van Briggle Pottery Artist Fred Will's Sign
Fred Wills Van Briggle Pottery Mark
Old Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Fred Wills

Fred joined the Van Briggle Pottery Company as a professional thrower (a person who shapes ceramics on a potter’s wheel) in 1947. From 1955 to 1968, he developed white and Dryden clay pottery under Van Briggle’s ‘Anna’ line.

6. Joe Jezek (1960 – 1970)

Joe Jezek Signed Van Briggle Pottery

Joe Jezek was a local Dryden artist known for introducing a unique clay formula to work with hot matte glaze and cool glossy glaze. He also introduced his signature volcanic drip glaze and other rugged surface textures on plain Van Briggle American art pottery.

7. Nelson Curtis (1964 – 1968)

Nelson Curtis Van Briggle Pottery Monogram
Van Briggle Pottery Artist Nelson Curtis Sign

American artist Nelson Curtis joined Van Briggle as a lamp designer in 1964. There, he designed native American women’s forms with crystalline, drip, and overspray glazes. Curtis also explored the monochrome, low-contrast Art Nouveau style instead of the colored one.

8. Dan Garner (1970s)

Van Briggle Pottery Dan Garner Mark

American sculptor Dan Garner joined the Van Briggle pottery company as its chief potter in 1970. He worked on the company’s new ‘geometric’ line and added more patterns under the metallic, crackle, and iridescent glazes.

9. Mark Sucharski (1982 – 2004)

Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Mark Sucharski
Mark Sucharski 's Signature on Van Briggle Pottery
Van Briggle Pottery Artist Mark Sucharski

Mark Sucharski was Van Briggle’s chief production manager from 1982 to 2004. His work usually consists of washed, watercolor surfaces with fluid or curvilinear designs on top.

10. Craig Stevenson (1990 – 2010s)

Craig Stevenson Mark on Van Briggle Pottery
Van Briggle Pottery with Craig Stevenson's Sign
Van Briggle Artist Craig Stevenson's Monogram

Craig Stevenson became the Van Briggle Pottery Co.’s chief designer in 1990. He explored new layered glazes, tactile textures, and asymmetrical shapes in his design.

Craig is best known for his Calla Garden design, an intricate trumpet-shaped lily and multicolored node pattern.

11. Dene Kiser (1994 – 2004)

Dene Kiser Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Old Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Artist Dene Kiser

Dene Kiser was the production manager at Van Briggle Company from 1994 to 2004. He was also a master glazier who introduced the French Red, Turquoise, and Sea Green glazes during Van Briggle’s Centennial year.

Apart from the above certified Potter marks, you may find the following potter signs and monograms on REAL Van Briggle Art Pottery: 

William Higman's Mark on Van Briggle Pottery

William Higman
(1902 – 1950s roughly)

Van Briggle Pottery Artist O.F Bruce's Mark

O.F. Bruce

Otis Wills Sign on Van Briggle Pottery

Otis Wills
(1943 – 1964)

Don Harvey Signed Van Briggle Pottery

Don Harvey

Van Briggle Pottery Artist Paul Gibson Monogram

Paul Gibson
(1960 – 1980)

Artist Doug Cowles Sign on Van Briggle Pottery

Doug Cowles

Tina Ufford Signed Van Briggle Pottery

Tina Ufford
(1980 – 1990)

Loretta Short's Monogram on Van Briggle Pottery

Loretta Short
(1988 – 1997)

Van Briggle Pottery Artist Lori Keenan's Sign

Lori Keenan
(Early 1990s)

Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Artist Chris Scalia

Chris Scalia
(1996 – 1998)

Van Briggle Pottery Artist Ivy Hill's Sign

Ivy Hill
(1998 – 1999)

Van Briggle Ceramics Jeff Oelklaus Signature

Jeff Oelklaus
(1998 – 2000s)

Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Becky Hansen

Becky Hansen
(2003 – 2012)

12 Popular Van Briggle Art Pottery Finishers & Their Marks

From 1980, the Van Briggle Company stopped adding the potter’s name to every piece. Instead, the finisher (the artist who polished the piece) added his signs on the pottery’s base.

These artists didn’t throw the pottery on the wheel. They just took the fired castings from the kiln, cleaned them, and enhanced their artistic engravings for the final sale.

Here’s a hand-drawn finisher mark chart that identifies commonly found Van Briggle finishers’ signs and their estimated dates:

Van Briggle Pottery Finisher Alice Offut's Mark
Alice Offut (1980 – 2000)
Arlene Shuckhart Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Arlene Shuckhart (1988 – 1997)
Van Briggle Pottery Finisher Glady Baker Mark
Glady Baker (1960 – 1970s)
Finisher Clara Beyers Monogram on Van Briggle Pottery
Clara Beyers (1980 – 2000)
Van Briggle Pottery Signed by Dorothy Randolph
Dorothy Randolph (1980 & Onwards)
Billie Bignell's Finisher Sign on Van Briggle Pottery
Billie Bignell (1940 – 1970)
Ethel Owen 's Mark on Van Briggle Pottery
Ethel Owen (1978 – 1983)
Lateefah Wright's Finisher Sign on Van Briggle Pottery
Lateefah Wright (1998 – 2004)
Sara Elder Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Sara Elder (1980 & Onwards)
Finisher Jennie Zega Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Jennie Zega (1983 – 1988)
Van Briggle Pottery with Eloise Trujillo 's Finisher Mark
Eloise Trujillo (1984 – 2002)
Van Briggle Pottery with Marge Pope's Finisher Mark
Marge Pope (1960 & Onwards)

Van Briggle Pottery Etcher Marks & Signs

In simple terms, etchers are the artists who carve designs, marks, and other details on the pottery before firing.

In the 1960s, the Van Briggle Pottery Co. started adding etcher marks on its base. These marks weren’t uniform; they had different strokes, handwriting, and size, depending on the clay’s porosity and stylus.

Below are a few common etcher marks, given their names and years, that you might find on your Van Briggle American art pottery:

Van Briggle Pottery with Marianna Brown 's Etcher Mark
Marianna Brown (1970 – 2000)
Carolyn French 's Etcher Mark on Van Briggle Pottery
Carolyn French (1986 – 1994)
Van Briggle Pottery Etcher Chris Graybill Mark
Chris Graybill (1992 – 1993)
Julie Ann Haney Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Julie Ann Haney (1965 – 1975)
Van Briggle Pottery Etcher Darlynn Mangus's Mark
Darlynn Mangus (1984 – 2000)
Hilde Manuszak Etcher Signed Van Briggle Pottery
Hilde Manuszak (1988 – 2002)
Donna Meyers Monogram on Van Briggle Pottery
Donna Meyers (1977 – 1981)
Vera Riley's Sign on Old Van Briggle Pottery
Vera Riley (1989 & Onwards)
Van Briggle Pottery Etcher Michelle Tollison's Monogram
Michelle Tollison (1980 & Onwards)

6 Common Van Briggle Glazer Marks

A glazer is an artist who sprays the final glossy or matte coating on the pottery. The Van Briggle Pottery Co. introduced its first glazer marks after WW2 in 1945. These marks had no standard format and used a mix of small letters and monograms.

The early glazer marks were painted with a heat-resistant cobalt blue paint after firing. But then, from the 1970s, glazers simply scratched their marks onto the hard bisque clay bottom before the glaze was applied.

Here are six commonly found glazer mark examples:

Michael Cowles Glazer Mark on Van Briggle Pottery
Michael Cowles (2003 – 2014)
Van Briggle Pottery Glazer Rosemary Dobbs's Mark
Rosemary Dobbs (1989 & Onwards)
Helen Johnson Van Briggle Pottery Sign
Helen Johnson (1983 – 1994)
Glazer Martha Oliver's Sign on Van Briggle Pottery
Martha Oliver (1970 – 2006)
Glazer Amber Roach's Ink Mark on Van Briggle Pottery
Amber Roach (1998 – 2000)
Van Briggle Pottery Glazer Mickie Shaw's Ink Mark
Mickie Shaw (1983 – 1994)

All the marks in this Van Briggle Pottery Artist Mark guide are completely hand-drawn, only for sole identification purposes.

Understanding and verifying Van Briggle artists’ initials can be exhausting. But this guide makes it easy with hand-made references and lists. In fact, I’ve also created detailed guides of Rookwood Pottery artist marks and Roseville Pottery artist marks, which might interest you!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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