Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Thursday, April 24, 2003
I arrived at Cincinnati’s Neatherland Hilton late yesterday afternoon for the American Art Pottery Association Convention opening banquet. Under the setting sunlight streaming through the glorious Continental Room’s mullioned windows, I met some very nice people and had a surprisingly good dinner.

AAPA 2003 Tile

Member’s, upon registering, were presented with a lovely commerative ceramic plaque made for this year’s convention. The plaque show’s Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and a Rookwood “rook” or crow with the date 2003. The plaque was a very nice touch and it is greatly appreciated.
Remarks by the AAPA president and the Keynote Speech by Cincinnati Art Galleries Director Riley Humler were very disappointing and disorganized.
While Mr. Hummler’s speech contained a lot of interesting information and anecdotes, he was greatly hindered by a different topic from the one advertised, a disorganized presentation and an old fashioned overhead projector with curly, shiny photos. As a patron and friend of the Cincinnati Art Galleries and staff I would gently urge the transition to the computerized ease of a PowerPoint presentation. Even something a s simple as a slide carousel would have greatly aided the presentation.
The actual topic revolved around the September 30, 1941 sale of the Rookwood Pottery “lock, stock and barrel” to Walter Schott (father to the infamous but sweet Marge Schott) for, considering today’s value of the pottery contained in the sale, the bargain price of $60,500! This $60,000 price included not only pieces of pottery that today are individually worth $60K but land and buildings, today worth tens of millions, atop Cincinnati’s pricey Mount Adams.

CAG director and "Antique Roadshow" appraiser
Riley Hummler

Rookwood collectors, as long as I have known them, get a perverse thrill from stories that highlight the actions of people unfamiliar with the pottery’s value. Riley had an excellent version of this kind of story from the time of the pottery’s commercial operation by the Sperti Company.
Dr. George Sperti, the inventor of the Sperti sunlamp, told a friend there was “a lot of tile at the pottery”. Understand, ladies and gentlemen, some of these tiles could today sell for way over $500 each.
The friend got a pickup truck and took a load of Rookwood tile out to his farm to use as stepping-stones and ground fill! This story produced audible gasps from members of the audience.
Mr. Hummler also relayed a story from Marge Schott about Schott kids breaking vases by playing baseball in the house and briefly mentioned an infamous theft of pottery from the collection of the Institutum Divi Thomae, a foundation under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and I learned something. Tomorrow's schedule is a day of lectures ending in a pottery auction, which I'm hoping will allow more chitchat opportunities with other members.

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