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.
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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.
 

Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt for Marblehead Pottery, Rare vase, 1908–1916
 

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.

David Rago

Top Results

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR ROOKWOOD POTTERY, Important vase | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Rookwood Pottery

Important vase
estimate: $70,000–100,000
result: $187,500

HARRIET JOOR FOR NEWCOMB COLLEGE POTTERY, Rare humidor | ragoarts.com

Harriet Joor for Newcomb College Pottery

Rare humidor
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $53,125

GEORGE E. OHR, large two-sided vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

large two-sided vase
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $25,000

FREDERICK HURTEN RHEAD FOR AREQUIPA POTTERY, Important vase | ragoarts.com

Frederick Hurten Rhead for Arequipa Pottery

Important vase
estimate: $75,000–100,000
result: $93,750

UNIVERSITY CITY, Gourd vase | ragoarts.com

University City

Gourd vase
estimate: $12,500–17,500
result: $33,750

ADELAIDE ROBINEAU, Rare vase | ragoarts.com

Adelaide Robineau

Rare vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $46,875

MARY LOUISE MCLAUGHLIN, Exceptional Losanti Vase | ragoarts.com

Mary Louise McLaughlin

Exceptional Losanti Vase
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $30,000

HARRIET ELIZABETH WILCOX FOR ROOKWOOD POTTERY, Exceptional Painted Mat vase | ragoarts.com

Harriet Elizabeth Wilcox for Rookwood Pottery

Exceptional Painted Mat vase
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $18,750

Read, look, ask, and then buy last.

 

David Rago, Founder and President

David Rago has been buying, selling, and collecting pre-war decorative American ceramics since the age of sixteen and is a nationally renowned expert on the subject. He has lectured and written about them extensively over the past several decades and has served as an expert appraiser for decorative ceramics and porcelain on Antiques Roadshow since its inception in 1996.

Contact us today to learn more about the value of your pottery collection.
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