April 25, 2024

March 1899 – Artus Van Briggle in Colorado Springs

Artus Van Briggle, 1900

Sometimes during any endeavor; it is helpful to step back, as though starting again, to see what you might have missed. There is rarely a day that someone does not contact us by text, IM, fb, email or phone with a question about Van Briggle Pottery. We love hearing from new VB enthusiasts!

This is an attempt to start again, with the basics. Shortly after Artus arrived in Colo. Spgs., searching for respite from his tuberculosis in the “healing climate of Colorado;” he found a newfound home at Chico Basin Ranch, with the Holmes family. It was there he modeled his first design, #1, the Toast Cup or Chalice.

Shortly thereafter; the first pottery building was located at 617 N. Nevada Ave., in a building behind a residence fronting 615 N. Nevada Ave. The stationery used at this first location, had the conjoined Double-A, representing Artus and Anne Gregory; prior to their marriage. The Double-A logo may have been drawn in variations of the composition, by different hands throughout the 112 years of operation – but the original meaning was clear. This was a pottery started by Artus Van Briggle, with help almost from the beginning from Ambrose Schlegel, and a few other men. Anne Lawrence Gregory, soon moved from New York to take a position teaching art in Colorado Springs – and be near her husband-to-be. She did not work at the pottery on a full-time basis until 1902, after their marriage.

Original Van Briggle stationery, photo furnished by a Van Briggle collector & great friend!

A list of the earliest glazes follows. Early literature indicated that the wares were produced “in all the colors of the Colorado landscape.” Artus, knowing his health was rapidly declining; calculated that by making fabulous designs from which molds could be produced, and reused; would be more practical than producing a new design for each piece – and leave the future of the pottery uncertain upon his death.

Our collections include at least 5 shades of Blues, 4 shades of Yellows, 3 shades of Grays, 5 shades of Green, 5 shades of Pinks, Black, 5 shades of Browns, and 2 shades of Lavenders. There were no “glaze swatches” or very early photos of which glaze was called by each name. In the next few weeks; we will photograph selections from each of these categories and allow you to each choose the names you wish to use.

As for me; Mustard Yellow is my favorite and we have a vase to which I applied French’s Mustard for a true comparison! I really do not recommend this technique, but the glaze was undamaged.

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