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Guide to Dedham Pottery: Modern Antiquity in Blue and White

Dedham Pottery Scottie Dog Plate

Dedham Pottery Scottie Dog Plate, Est. $700-900, Lot 33 in the December 17, 2011  auction

I have worked in the world of antiques and modern design for over three decades and have learned to love many styles. But as a life-long lover of both nature and the arts, I continue to be inspired by works from the Arts & Crafts movement, when artists took their cue from the natural world around them.

Nature’s inspiration is especially evident in pottery from the Arts & Crafts era. One of my favorites is Dedham Pottery, which was founded by Hugh C. Robertson as Chelsea Pottery in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1891, before moving to Dedham, Massachusetts in 1896.

Fall in love with the crackle glaze and a variety of animal designs

Though made in the modern era, Dedham pottery is traditional in its design, resembling the look of antique Chinese export porcelain. It’s easily distinguished by its blue and white crackle glaze, and cobalt blue decorated borders, which feature a repeating pattern of animals, birds, fish, plants and flowers. Ironically, Robertson happened upon the crackle look accidentally, when experimenting with new glazes and cooling techniques, but since the design was a near-instant hit within the Arts & Crafts community, the look stuck, and it’s still drawing in collectors today.

Dedham’s most recognizable pattern is the Dedham Rabbit, which eventually became the firm’s logo, but they created dozens of other animal borders including elephant, polar bear, lion, dolphin, swan, owl, duck, chicken, turkey, Scottie dog, crab, lobster, turtle, and butterfly patterns. Plant and flower patterns included clover, magnolia, iris, horsechestnut, grape, orange tree, snow tree, water lily, and azalea borders.

Dedham’s designs were hand-painted, not stenciled, so pieces have a whimsical nature to them. Some decorators became well known for their beautiful work and even signed their wares. These pieces are highly collectible and often fetch top prices in today’s competitive collectibles market.

Dedham Pottery | Turtle Design

Dedham Turtle Pottery, Est. $700-900, Lot 24 in the December 17, 2011 auction

Find affordable Dedham pottery at auction

I love Dedham pottery because it’s not only fun, it’s highly functional. Full lines of dinnerware were made, plus candlesticks, coffee pots, tea services, sugar and creamers, bread and butter dishes, soup bowls, salad plates, bacon rashers, cups, pitchers, platters, vases, and decorative figures. One of my favorite offerings is Lot 21, a Dedham day/night pitcher, meant to rest on a bedside nightstand. It features a rooster on one side and an owl on the other.

Best of all, Dedham pottery is fairly easy to find at auction, and it’s still a great value and surprisingly affordable, even for beginning collectors. Estimates on the pottery in the December 17th auction of 20th Century Design range from $125-175 for a single piece to $700-900 for a set. For more detailed information on Dedham Pottery’s history and patterns, search online and at your local library.  When you’re ready to buy, remember that with pottery and all other ceramics, condition is paramount, so ask the experts at auctions and in shops for their best advice on which pieces to buy.

To see some great examples of Dedham pottery, preview the December 17th auction of 20th Century Design online or join us in person at Skinner’s Boston Gallery, December 15th, 12 to 5 p.m., December 16th, 12 to 7 p.m., or December 17th, 8 to 9 a.m.

Dedham Pottery | Elephant Design

Dedham Elephant Pottery, Lots 28-29 in the December 17, 2011 auction

Dedham Pottery | Chick Design

Dedham Chick Pottery and a Day/Night Pitcher, Lots 19-21 in the December 17, 2011 auction


17 thoughts on “Guide to Dedham Pottery: Modern Antiquity in Blue and White

  1. I have a sitting Bear made by Denham it is crackle glazed blue and white. The information on the back bottom shows: PD*98 usa AN14. I am interested in selling it or auctioning. This bear is in excellent condition. Thank you.

    • Dannette,
      Thank you for reading the Skinner Blog. The sitting bear is not an item that Skinner, Inc. would handle at auction. It would better fit a collectibles market.

      Sincerely, Jane

    • From the information you provided its likely that your plate was made by the Potting Shed in West Concord and is not the original Dedham Pottery that was made in the earlier part of the 2oth century. Since its After Dedham Pottery we would not handle it at auction. We do thank you for the consideration.

  2. I am a member or our Hospital Auxiliary. We have a Fair each year and this year we are adding a collectible table.I have some of your pottery.A raccoon,girl rabbit holding a basket of veggies,duck with a bonnet on,1 lg.bunny and 2 sm. bunnies. Could you tell me the price of these as I would like to donate a few of them to our table.

    Thank you,
    Jackie Agnese

  3. Hallo,
    I have what seems to be an original Dedham Rabbit Teapot with blue Daffodiles painted on its behind. It is in perfect condition and inscribed on the base:
    It has the top with a small blue beatle on it.
    Is this enough to tell me what year this was made and its estimated value? The teapot is in mint condition.
    Hanan Shafir.

  4. Hi
    I have many Dedham pottery items but all were made by Barbra Nashawatti, I cant seem to find any information about there resale value?

  5. I recently acquired a 10 1/4 in Dedham plate, rabbit with double ears border, with the blue a lighter color than cobalt. Have you seen a departure from the traditional darker blue color? Thank you

  6. Hi. Are you able to tell me if the Scottish Terrier decoration is Historical Dedham or Potting Shed? I haven’t been able to determine this from poking around on the internet, yet. Thanks so much for your help.

  7. I bought a pair of 3″ candlesticks in the dedham bunny pattern. They have a blue marking Bf*93 with have VCA beneath. How do I use that to establish a date when they were made?

  8. I have a Dedham casserole with two rabbits on the lid .
    The number on the bottom is USA T20 and 155. I’m unable to find anything like it.
    Is this authentic?
    Thank you!

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