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Buffalo Pottery: Deldare WareAuthor: Dee Albert Gernert
( Article orginally published March 1963 )
It is only recently that the favor of collectors and the attention of antiques dealers has been directed to an immensely interesting line of highly decorated olive green ware known as Deldare. This distinctive semi-porcelain was made at the Buffalo Pottery in the early 1900s. The decorations are hand-painted in mineral colors under a beautiful high glaze, and most large pieces are signed with the initials or the full name of the persons who decorated them. Most pieces are also dated.
The man who originated this ware was Lewis H. Bown, a native of Trenton, New Jersey, who learned the pottery business in his home town. It was from Trenton that he was recruited to become manager of the Buffalo Pottery in Rochester, New York. (See Spinning Wheel, Jan.Feb. '63) In correspondence with the writer, Mr. Bown tells the story: "In 1908 we were making semi-porcelain at the Buffalo Pottery and I was anxious to produce a line to compete with one made by Royal Doulton in England . . . the olive green base was achieved by adding a small percentage of oxide of chrome to our regular white body." The first experimental pieces were turned out in 1908.
Since the ware was created with the definite purpose of producing an American decorative line to be associated in the public mind with famous English decorative lines such as Denholm, Deveraux, and Doulton, Mr. Bown coined the name "Deldare" which also began with a "D," and turned, quite logically to English art forms for ideas to use in decoration.
"We searched through old books," he wrote, "and found two-The Vicar of Wakefield and Cranford-which were full of old English scenes. We copied these etchings and painted them in underglaze mineral colors on a line of art ware and some dinnerware." This was the "first series," some dated 1908, others 1909. The famous "Fallowfield Hunt" scenes were used for the second series. These are dated 1909. Then, in 1911, came the third and seemingly best series. These third-series pieces are decorated with copies of etchings from the "Tours of Dr. Syntax," done by the famous English artist, Thomas Rowlandson. Rowlandson's paintings can be identified by the beautiful greyed greens and blues which he used, and the accuracy with which these colors are reproduced on the ware gives it rare beauty and distinction.
The fourth series was named "Abino." Produced in 1912, it represents an attempt at original decoration, and is hopelessly outclassed by the three preceding series which relied on the works of artists of stature.
In one letter Mr. Bown writes, "In 1912 we gave up the manufacture of semi-porcelain and also Deldare, and began the manufacture of vitrified hotel china." A second letter says: "We discontinued making this ware [Deldarel in 1916 when we were obliged to go into the production of vitrified hotel china for the government. After the First World War we resumed its production, but owing to increased cost of labor and materials, the expense of production was so high that the selling price was prohibitive."
There is no clue in the correspondence as to how much Deldare was produced after World War I. However, there were only four series or "decorations," as he calls them, and a pair of candlesticks dated 1925 and bearing the first series decorations would indicate that the pieces produced after the war duplicated the decorations of the four series.
Collectors have been searching out this art line for a very short time, but the fact that it was produced for such a short period means that the supply is limited, and accounts for Mr. Bown's observation, "It brings fabulous prices."