Colorado Gallery

Ames Pottery - Glazes, Forms and Marks

#84 2015-09-01

This group was made by Ames Pottery circa 1935-1940.

All pieces look wheel thrown and hand finished. They have applied handles and shaped rims and their quality is mostly excellent.(click)

The Ames Historical Society (AHS) also show a few nice pieces on their site (link, pdf). And except for one molded or slip-cast creamer they also appear nicely thrown with hand finishing.

Niloak Look-alikes

Ames Pottery

Often there is little difference between Ames and Niloak Pottery glazes. Here the Ames' matte blue is nearly identical to Niloak's. Recall Ames Pottery was founded in 1935 by Howard Erwin after he left Niloak (link).

Niloak Pottery

Ames Pottery

The same can be said for many Ames Pottery forms.
This Ames vase with applied handles is also a well known Niloak form.

In fact this same form would later appear at Broadmoor Pottery in Denver (link). Broadmoor's thrower was Jonathan Hunt after he left Ames Pottery in 1937.

Ames Pottery

These Ames glazes are also nearly identical to Niloak's. Notice the seafoam-greens.(click either pic) This effect is much like Niloak's but with maybe a softer look.

This Ames creamer is hand done with a lovely glaze variation. Ames Pottery can sometimes be found with these nice studio pottery-like glazes.(click)

Please check out our gallery page here for more examples.


Note "Ames Pottery" was listed as such in the 1936 Ames, Iowa directory and as "Ames Art Pottery" in the 1940 directory. The two names were likely interchangeable. Same address.

We will now show a few Ames Pottery identifiers.

Bottoms and Clay Body

Ames bottoms usually show an unglazed medium-brown clay. They are typically slightly concaved. Thrown on plaster bats, no?

Notice also the dark annular appearance. That may be an artifact of glaze vapors on the clay body during the firing process.

Also note the faint, uneven and mostly unreadable ink stamp. Quite typical for Ames pots! (click)

Petrosken Foil Label

We found two types of foil labels. This better example of the first was lifted from the AHS site (via Google Images) (link):

Photo credit: Google Images/Ames Historical Society

This label looks to be attached to a lighter slip-cast bottom.

Anyone know the origin of "Petrosken"?

Carillon Ware Foil Label

A second type of foil label showing a campanile is much more common:

We believe the label was likely modeled with Iowa State's Campanile in mind.(click)

Iowa State College/University Campanile

(Carillon is "a set of bells in a tower, played using a keyboard or by an automatic mechanism similar to a piano roll".)

The Iowa State University Campanile has a carillon!(click)

Carillon Ware Hand Made Ink Stamp

Finally, and also very common, is this Carillon Ware ink stamp. Again, it is often found uneven and very faint or worse.

In summary Ames Pottery is usually found with an unglazed brown clay bottom. It is sometimes unmarked, but look for a faint and uneven circular Carillon Ware ink stamp.

The ink stamp may appear along with either of the two foil labels mentioned. Occasionally the foil label may even be found applied on top of the ink stamp.

Please contact us if you have insights on this or other topics. Thank you.