April 24, 2017

Van Briggle Notes




Van Briggle Notes, Published in 2011


Van Briggle Notes, published in 2011, contains over 270 pages in full color, with hundreds of photos. Samples of photos shown above include: vintage Van Briggle fireplace in private home; family photos at the Memorial Pottery and after the 1919 fire; examples of rabbit designs by J. Emma Kinkead & original advertising postcard used by the pottery; example of page from Van Briggle brochure during the Curtis years of ownership; magazine advertisement for Van Briggle pottery in 1916 and photo of pieces dated 1916; Colo. Spgs. newspaper article covering the 1919 fire at the Memorial Pottery; advertisement for the radio receiver cover produced by Van Briggle Pottery; information on Van Briggle participation in the Chicago 1933 World’s Fair; original advertising postcards for the Mountain CRAG (Not Craig, as commonly believed) Brown glaze, and photo of Mountain Crag examples; mid-century photo of workers including Fred Wills; family photo of Ram’s Head Tile produced by J. Emma Kinkead.

The authors traveled extensively to places of Van Briggle-related interest including: place of Artus’ birth in Ohio; Cincinnati sites where Artus lived and worked; sites of World’s Fairs in which Artus exhibited his works; Museums, Libraries, Historical Societies, and the many related sites in Colorado. The work seeks to provide the story behind the potter, his life, Van Briggle Pottery and its many employees. Genealogical records provided much information on the ancestors of Artus Van Briggle, and provided the clue as to the derivation of Artus’ first name.

Information gained from Van Briggle Art Pottery Co., Inc. is described and includes examples of the original hand-written drawings of the 1st 900 documented designs. Designers names and identifying initials are included. Previously undocumented works by Artus Van Briggle have been included, including 2 Rookwood plaques in Native American motif, dated 1893; an 1898 loving cup Artus was commissioned to design for Admiral Dewey; a portrait of his sister once on display and whose whereabouts is now unknown; a photo of the portrait of Artus’ grandmother exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in 1893; etc. The painting was presented by Artus to Colorado College, and is currently missing.

Direct contact with descendents of early potters & designers, including Ambrose Schlegel, Thomas Alston, J. Emma Kinkead, Alex Gress & others provided first-hand stories of these early Van Briggle workers, and never-before-seen photographs of them and the early Van Briggle Pottery. A copy of an 8-page Van Briggle brochure, hand dated two months prior to the dedication of the Memorial Pottery is reproduced, courtesy of one of the early potter’s family. This is the earliest known brochure that can be definitely dated.

Interviews with Fred Wills, Van Briggle potter from 1947-1988; provided much information, details on the inner-workings of the pottery and photographs of employees from the mid-century period.

Fabulous Van Briggle pieces from private collections are photographed, as well as those from many fine auction houses. Prices realized the last ten years at auction are included for reference.

Records and advertisements of Van Briggle pottery selling in Colorado and throughout the country during the earliest years are provided.

Van Briggle employee names are provided for several of the early years; and include Claude Lucas Leffler, who was found to have worked at the pottery for a period of about two years.

Photographs from the 1908 presentation to the American Ceramic Society by Frank Riddle, Van Briggle Pottery Manager, are shown, and provide early details on the designing and building of the Memorial Pottery. Original blueprint copies are reproduced.

Photographs of “previously unrecorded” pieces from among the first 900 designs are included. Information on these pieces was not available to include in Robert Wyman Newton’s Catalogue of Van Briggle Designs in 1975. Information and photographs are also included for several newly-discovered and/or one-of-a-kind Van Briggle objects, which were produced at some time during the last 111 years.

Many Colorado Springs residents and business owners allowed photos of their beautiful vintage Van Briggle fireplaces to be photographed & published for the first time.

The book was a personal labor of love in recording of Van Briggle history, and only put into print and published at the encouragement of the previous authors. The cover photo features one of the four known original Lorelei designs made by Artus Van Briggle in 1898, a #632 with silver rim and a #62 with bronze base dated 1904, in use at the World’s Fair of 1904.


  1. Laurann Briding says:

    Please let me know when the reorder will be available – I really want this book .

  2. Danny Melcher says:

    Met Kathy in Colorado Springs this past year, and bought the book. I can understand why it is sold out as It is FABULOUS!

    • Thanks! Really enjoyed visiting with you both, and seeing your Van Briggle. Watch for additional VB fireplace photos & a “newly discovered” vintage PATENTED VB piece to be listed on the web site soon!

  3. Karen Weaver says:

    Where can i find the Van Briggle Notes book to buy?

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