Rago is a market leader for American decorative ceramics with more than three decades of experience. We have achieved impressive results for top artists in the field and hold several record prices. The pottery field is as broad as it is diverse, and Rago is the proud standard-bearer of this important aspect of America’s decorative arts legacy.
Learn more about collecting American pottery from David Rago, nationally renowned ceramics expert and founder of Rago auction house.
Collecting American Art Pottery
A Conversation with David Rago
Q: What first drew you to pre-war American ceramics?
I was fortunate enough to get involved with art pottery in the early 1970s, when entry level prices were low enough for my college-student bankroll. The best way to learn art is to handle it, and the limited amount of information available at that time created a favorable environment for people like me, uneducated but fleet of foot and hopelessly enthusiastic. The work was produced by so many singular operations, like George Ohr and Marblehead, Teco, and Grand Feu, so the variety proved deeply rewarding when such things became available, often for the first time since they were originally created.
Q: What are some of the most important considerations for collectors to make when buying?
Read, look, ask, and then buy last. Especially considering all the information now available, there is plenty to learn before writing the check. You can scan museum holdings, past auction results, price result databases, and dealer websites and see literally thousands of pieces, many with price histories. There is never a reason to rush into a purchase, and there are plenty of opportunities to build a solid, educational foundation.
The variety and vitality of the ceramic arts in America have not yet been matched qualitatively.
Artus Van Briggle for Rookwood Pottery
Harriet Joor for Newcomb College Pottery
George E. Ohr
large two-sided vase
Frederick Hurten Rhead for Arequipa Pottery
Mary Louise McLaughlin
Exceptional Losanti Vase
Harriet Elizabeth Wilcox for Rookwood Pottery
Exceptional Painted Mat vase
Read, look, ask, and then buy last.