Van Briggle Pottery has the distinction of being one of the oldest companies still producing American art pottery to this day. The production of contemporary art pottery by Van Briggle as well as the fact that the company did not maintain great consistency in its bottom markings can make it difficult for novice Van Briggle collectors to determine accurate dates of production. With a basic knowledge of clay color and texture and bottom markings, approximate dating of Van Briggle Pottery can easily be determined. Since the majority of collectors are interested in dating early examples of Van Briggle this discussion will focus on dating examples from the 1920s and earlier.
Van Briggle Pottery produced between 1900 and early 1907 was typically clearly dated. Marks typically seen on pottery from this time period usually include the logo, Van Briggle, date, shape number and a Roman numeral. Typical Roman numeral marks for Van Briggle include: III for 1902 and 1903 examples; and V for 1904 examples. Van Briggle Pottery produced in 1905 can be found marked with a wider variety of Roman numerals including V, X, VV, and VX.
In 1906 Van Briggle Pottery stopped using Roman numeral markings and for the first time added either Colorado Springs or Colo Springs to the bottom marks. Early 1907 Van Briggle Pottery often has marks that include the logo, Van Briggle, Colo Spgs, shape number, and date. Sometime in 1907, the Pottery started to add finisher numbers to either or both sides of the double AA logo.
Van Briggle Pottery produced between the later part of 1907 through 1912 is typically marked Van Briggle, Colo Spgs (or Colorado Springs), as well as finisher numbers to either or both the left and right of the double A logo and the design number below Colo Spgs. From time to time, one will find an example from this time that is also dated with a full date.
Van Briggle Pottery produced between 1913 and 1919 is characterized by marks that typically only include the double A logo and the date. Between 1915 and 1916, examples can also be found with an incised shape number in addition to the logo and date.
Starting with the late teens and continuing into the early 1920s, Van Briggle Pottery that was not dated was typically marked with the logo and VAN BRIGGLE in either all caps or script. A common characteristic of the pottery produced during this period is a darker clay bottom (often referred to as a dirty bottom) and bottoms with glaze streaks and residue. Many 1920 examples of Van Briggle Pottery are marked only with the logo, and 20 signifying 1920.
After 1920, Van Briggle Pottery became harder to date as the consistency of the bottom markings decreased. Pieces from the 1920s are typically dated based on bottom markings and clay color. The 1920s pieces are characterized by clay that is sandy colored with either a grainy appearance or a buff bottom. Another consistent characteristic of the pottery in the 1920s is the bottom markings VAN BRIGGLE and COLO SPGS with all words being in capital letters.
The next period of Van Briggle Pottery that can be accurately dated are pieces marked with USA. It is commonly accepted that Van Briggle Pottery marked USA was produced between 1922 and 1926. Pieces marked USA will typically display the similar sandy colored, grainy (buff) bottom.
For collectors interested in doing additional research on Van Briggle pottery, the best reference books are: