Weller Pottery - What's in a Name?
By Leon Castner
Most people can tell a piece of Weller pottery when they see one. It has the name Weller right on the bottom. But did you know that most of the plain color Weller we see with the large scrawled name is not the stuff that made the pottery famous?
Weller was the invention of a man called Sam Weller-hence the name Weller. It was a utilitarian pottery hand made by Sam (son of an Ohio farmer) in a log cabin in Fultonham, Ohio in 1872 (he was no relation to Abe Lincoln). His adventure grew and he soon found himself moving to Zanesville-a much larger town and commercial center.
In 1893, he went to Chicago to see the Columbian Exposition (kind of a world’s fair). He saw a very fine art pottery called Lonhuda Ware -named after three men (Long, Hunter, and Day). Being the entrepreneur he was, he purchased a stake in the company. A short time later he acquired it and changed the name-not to Weller, but to another made up name- Louwelsa.
This pottery actually looks like fine porcelain and has a high sheen glaze. It is painted with mostly floral designs and looks a lot like another line of pottery made by another Ohio company called Rookwood.
The name Louwelsa is usually impressed into the bottom of each piece. You see, Sam always put a little of himself into each piece. The name Louwelsa was made from taking his new daughter’s name, Louise, and combing it with the last name Weller, and Sam’s own name. I would have thought it would have been Lousamwel, but he must have had his own reasons. Louwelsa is one of the most sought-after lines made by Weller and is worth considerably more than the later flower pots and kitchen bowls.
In 1905, Weller was the largest art pottery in the US. They employed over 500 people. It closed in 1948 and has become one of the most loved and easiest to spot collectibles of the 20th Century. So look for the name on the bottom, but for high value make sure it says something other than Weller. Louwelsa would be nice.