November 18, 2017

Ambrose Schlegel credited with Indian Chief Vase

Indian Chief Vase

Indian Chief Vase

American Indian Chief Vase with Three Expressions

Does anyone possess one of these vases dated prior to 1914? 

Copied from the Van Briggle Pottery files, with permission while researching our book, is a letter dated 1967 regarding the origin of this design.  The owner of the pottery from 1920 to 1969 was J. H. Lewis, and the letter was written in response to an inquiry by an owner of one of these vases.  The letter unequivocally states that the design was made by Ambrose Schlegel in 1927.  The letter continues, “The model was produced in our studios for the purpose of a lamp base until about 1939.   It was modeled originally for the purpose of a lamp base and many of these pieces were sold from 1927 to 1939, but it has not been in production for many years.”

Since 1967, when the letter was written; the production of this piece was again placed in production.

Many owners of this design do not realize that each of the three facial expressions are quite different.  Sometimes a heavy glaze will obscure the fine points of the facial features.

This author was fortunate to locate the clay model of one of the facial expressions, which is dated 1913.  We have also seen one of these small plaques, also dated 1913 but with a bronze coating, which sold at auction in 2003 for $920.

Photos are included here for your comparison with a 1920s example of the vase along with the plaque featuring the same facial expression.

Has anyone seen plaques with designs of the other two expressions?

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