Chemist, potter, and artist Arthur Eugene Baggs studied ceramics under Charles Fergus Binns for two years at the New York State School of Clay-Working and Ceramics before being hired at Marblehead Pottery in 1905. The present tile is illustrative of Baggs’ exceptional design sensibilities, which were influenced by those of Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow’s influential summer art classes were held just sixteen miles away in Ipswich and his prints were widely circulated and admired at the time. Baggs rendered the idyllic scene on this tile in muted greens and earth tones, colors inspired by the New England sea coast and in accordance with the prevailing Arts and Crafts style. He would go on to acquire Marblehead Pottery in 1915 and continued in an important role as designer and teacher for the remainder of his career.


Arthur Wesley Dow, Marsh Creek, color woodblock print, c. 1905

The distinguishing charm of the Marblehead pottery seems to lie in the beautiful simplicity of shape and design, and in the soft richness of color…this pottery, which already occupies a high place in the pottery craft of America, will one day, perhaps, typify the best work produced by the country, for Marblehead Pottery is traditionally, and thoroughly, American.

Gertrude Emerson, "Marblehead Pottery," The Craftsman, March 1916

Marblehead Pottery

Marblehead Pottery was established in 1904 by Herbert J. Hall in the quaint coastal town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. It was originally a part of a sanitarium called the Handicraft Shops, which provided occupational therapy for its residents. Other crafts included weaving, woodworking and metalworking. However, within a year, under supervision of Arthur Eugene Baggs (pictured), the pottery became separated from the sanitarium and was operationally independent as a for-profit enterprise by 1908.

Baggs had been a student of Charles F. Binns at Alfred University’s New York State School of Clay-Working and Ceramics. Designers at Marblehead included Baggs, Arthur Irwin Hennessey, and Maude Milner. The lead decorator was Sarah Tutt, throwing the pottery was John Swallow, an accomplished potter from England, and E.J. Lewis who manned the kiln. Baggs purchased the pottery business from Herbert Hall in 1915, which continued under his direction until its close in 1936. Through the years, Marblehead would always remain a small operation, never employing more than six people.

Marblehead Pottery is known for its simple geometric patterns that often incorporate flowers and plants in stylized, abstracted motifs—an aesthetic very much in line with that of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Maritime, fish, and animal themes are further examples of subject matter routinely used. The color schemes of the pottery would usually employ a muted, simple palette of a few matte glazes. Typical glaze colors include pink, green, yellow, blue, gray, and brown. Decoration would be applied either between incised outlines or hand-drawn directly on the surface. Pottery was marked to the underside with the Marblehead stamp—a sailing ship flanked by the letters M and P. Some include the artist or designer initials. Baggs initialed specially decorated pieces or those with experimental glazes that were his personal projects.

Over the years, Marblehead was the recipient of many awards. In 1916, they won a J. Ogden Armour prize at the annual exhibition for applied arts at The Art Institute of Chicago. The Arts & Craft Society awarded Arthur Baggs with their highest medal in 1925, and he subsequently won the Charles F. Binns medal in 1928. In the years following, Marblehead won first prize for pottery at the Robineau Memorial Exhibition at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts in 1933, and, in 1938, won first in pottery in the National Ceramic Exhibitions at Syracuse.

Auction Results Marblehead Pottery

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Exceptional and Rare vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Exceptional and Rare vase
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $150,000

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Exceptional and Rare scenic tile | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Exceptional and Rare scenic tile
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $43,750

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Exceptional and Rare vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Exceptional and Rare vase
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $40,000

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Exceptional and Rare scenic tile | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Exceptional and Rare scenic tile
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $23,750

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with crouching panthers in low relief | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with crouching panthers in low relief
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $21,250

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, large vase with conventionalized trees | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

large vase with conventionalized trees
estimate: $6,000–9,000
result: $17,500

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase
estimate: $4,000–6,000
result: $15,000

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Rare tile frieze | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Rare tile frieze
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $11,875

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Monumental vase with conventionalized peacock feathers | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Monumental vase with conventionalized peacock feathers
estimate: $6,500–9,500
result: $9,375

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Large vase with conventionalized quatrefoils | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Large vase with conventionalized quatrefoils
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $9,375

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Rare vase with stylized poppies | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Rare vase with stylized poppies
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $8,125

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Rare vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Rare vase
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $5,313

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with stylized trees | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

vase with stylized trees
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $5,313

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Rare oak tree tiles, set of three | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Rare oak tree tiles, set of three
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $5,000

ARTHUR BAGGS AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with stylized trees | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with stylized trees
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,375

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, rare vase with conventionalized trees | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

rare vase with conventionalized trees
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $4,063

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with conventionalized grapevines | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with conventionalized grapevines
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $3,750

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with dragonflies | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with dragonflies
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $3,250

ARTHUR BAGGS FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Small vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs for Marblehead Pottery

Small vase
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $3,250

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $2,500

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Rare low bowl | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Rare low bowl
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $2,250

ARTHUR HENNESSEY AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with stylized flowers | ragoarts.com

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with stylized flowers
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $1,875

MAUDE MILNER AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, vase with stylized nasturtium | ragoarts.com

Maude Milner and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

vase with stylized nasturtium
estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $1,125

ARTHUR BAGGS AND SARAH TUTT FOR MARBLEHEAD POTTERY, Cabinet vase | ragoarts.com

Arthur Baggs and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery

Cabinet vase
estimate: $1,250–1,750
result: $1,063