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Trash or Treasure: Pottery piece has White House connection

“I inherited a Weller jardinière (my mother’s term) that had been part of my great Aunt Lucille Woods’ collection,” wrote Betsy Donley to the column about a family heirloom. “According to conversations and the notes stashed inside the jardinière, mother said my aunt used these pieces to decorate The State Department with floral arrangements when visiting dignitaries were visiting D.C. 

"My great Uncle Raymond Woods was a Colonel in the army and worked in the Pentagon. He and Aunt Lucille had been stationed all over the world during the first 2/3 of his military career. She had studied Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arranging) during this time and became quite accomplished. Pat Nixon later had her do numerous arrangements for The White House, too, through the local garden club. 

"You will see notes from my late mother posted below regarding this Weller piece. It would be gratifying to know more about the company’s history and this piece’s value.  Mother may have been a bit optimistic on value, but who knows? She and the neighbors watched “Antiques Roadshow” regularly.  Nonetheless, it has graced multiple political occasions and garden parties in its day.”

DuMouchelles appraiser Catherine Page did the honors at a recent Trash or Treasure session held at the downtown auction house. “The mark tells us what we need to know,” she told Donley, adding that because of it she is able to date the piece to approximately 1900-1925.

“It’s really beautiful,” she said of the piece of pottery, which is decorated with daffodils. She pointed out that three holes on the inside of the glaze are a part of the manufacturing process. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, she explained that a jardinière is a French word for planter.

Donley’s piece has some crazing, which the appraiser defined as “a dense network of fine cracks,” caused after firing when the piece cools. It doesn’t affect the value, which she placed at $300 to $400, praising the piece’s “great condition.”

Weller, she added, is one of the many American art pottery companies to come out of Ohio, and considered one of the best. The website calls it “one of the most successful American pottery companies in history,” and notes that Weller wares “have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity owed to expert craftsmanship and their incorporation of both Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts sensibilities.” The appraiser agreed that the antique pottery market is “on the upswing” and is doing better than it did pre-pandemic.

Donley was happy to learn more and said that while she was curious about the value, she is planning on keeping it and passing it down herself. “My son is engaged and she loves gardening,” she said of her future daughter-in-law. “I hope she will appreciate it.”

About this item

Item: Weller jardinière

Owned by: Betsy Donley

Appraised by: Catherine Page, DuMouchelles

Estimated value: $300 to $400