Cowan pottery

DEFINITION

One of the more important potteries in United States ceramic history, Cowan Pottery established widespread public awareness of pottery as an art. Many of the sculptors, designers and ceramists went on to long and distinguished careers in the arts and industrial design. Among them were Victor Shreckengost, Waylande Gregory, Paul Manship, Paul Bogatay, Richard Hummell, Edris Eckhardt as well as, Edward Winter and Thelma Frazier (Winter). The founder and chief designer for many years was R. Guy Cowan, born in 1884 in East Liverpool, Ohio. He studied ceramics at the New York State School of Ceramics at Alfred. He founded the Cowan Pottery Studio in Lakewood, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) in 1912. While Cowan served in World War I, the studio closed but reopened with a new studio with nine kilns and a small pottery showroom. During the 20's', the studio prospered and had a 1200 outlet nationwide distribution including Marshall Field of Chicago, Wanamaker's of Philadelphia, Kauffman of Pittsburgh, Ovington of New York and Halle's of Cleveland. By 1928, there was a staff of 35 people and production was 175,000 single pieces a year. However the stock market crash of 1929 began the companies decline because many of the handmade pieces required much time and money investment in compensating the potters, and people were financially unable to purchase the pottery. The company closed in December 1931. Sources: Mike Hickman, Pottery Collector; http://www.cowanpottery.org/aboutcowan.htm

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