What is this?
Tile "Rookwood" advertising sign with rocks, forest scene. Rookwood Faience.
Rectangular plaque made of coarse white clay, molded. Design in relief of landscape with trees and winding river, with two ravens or rooks. One bird with outstretched wings at center top of plaque, the other perched at bottom, below Rookwood logo. In various colored mat glazes, some with cracklature: dark and light greens, brown, tan, pale sea-green, fushia and black. Border and sides in a pale sea-green. Back not glazed.
Why is this important?
Rookwood, based in Ohio and founded in 1880, was the largest American art pottery firm of the over one hundred that existed around the turn of the century. In 1902, Rookwood opened an architectural faience department to satisfy the growing demand for architectural ceramic tiles. Such tiles were prized for their fireproofing properties, particularly in decorating chimneys, and their easy-to-clean surfaces, which catered to the increasing interest in sanitation. Furthermore, the handcrafted quality was in line with the period’s popular Arts and Crafts movement. Rookwood used advertising tiles like this one to display the rich surface textures and saturated, matte-glaze colors for which it was renowned. In 1901, the Crockery and Glass Journal named Rookwood’s colors and glazes the finest outside of Japan and China. Rookwood usually marked its wares with factory date, clay type, size, process, and decorator. The “ST” monogram, molded into the bottom left corner, belongs to Sarah Alice Toohey, who began working for Rookwood in 1887 as a decorator and was in charge of the glaze department by this time. Number “1359Y” is listed in a book of faience tile shapes and sizes as the “Landscape & Rock Design,” and clearly the form lends itself well to such a design.