Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device

by Mike Pietrello

Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device

Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device





Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device:- Hi all, I picked this one up recently and I'm have in hard time finding the maker. It is marked on the base with a circle around the "ell"

It is 6.5" tall.

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike

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reply by Peter (admin) below - just scroll down...

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Reply by Peter (admin)

To:- Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device

Mike

There aren't many Muellers in the world of ceramics as far as I can see. There is a contemporary ceramic artist called Beth Mueller making quirky vases - but your piece doesn't much look like her style.

There is a famous Ohio potter called Herman Mueller operating about 100 years ago who was mainly involved in tiles. If there were any association with Herman Mueller, your piece should possibly be in a museum.

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***UPDATE***
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    Thanks to contributor Lynne who has unearthed another ceramic maker called Mueller Co, based in Decatur Illinois, seemingly not associated with the company of Herman Mueller. See threads below for more information.
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***END UPDATE***
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{my original reply continues beneath unedited}

Thanks for sharing your photo, but even though you described the mark, nothing beats a visual. Remember this is not a free mark identification service, it is a public record where we all help each other out and part of that help is to post up good visuals of the mark and the wares, otherwise it's just half a job....

The name Mueller, spelled with an 'e' is very distinctive and quite unusual. There are quite a few potteries using the more common Muller (or Müller). Herman C. Mueller set up the Mosaic Tile Co. of Zanesville, Ohio in 1909 which closed in 1938 (different sources quote different dates, so I don't know how accurate those exact dates are). Quite unremarkable you might say. Well, yes, apart from the fact that Mueller was helped to set up this company with one of the most renowned potters in American history, Karl Langenbeck.






Langenbeck wrote the famous 'bible' of pottery chemistry written in 1895 (still available today) called "The Chemistry Of Pottery". Shortly after this time, Langenbeck became the driving force behind the early success of the world renown and highly collectible Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati, Ohio (1880-1965). Langenbeck's first venture was the short-lived but glorious Avon Pottery of Cincinnati, Ohio. Avon wares are very rare and, actually are mostly in museums (high quality examples of ceramic art using the yellow Ohio clay with superb glazes). Somewhere in the mix Langenbeck took time to help J B Owen as chief chemist to the fledgling Owens Pottery Company c.1891 in Zanesville, Ohio. This company went on to become one of the most successful US ceramic companies of that era.

So any association with Langenbeck is good for the value of wares. Obviously, the company Langenbeck set up with Herman Mueller was the Mosaic Tile Co - I don't know of any vases or decorative wares, but who knows?

Hope this helps.

Best regards,

Peter (admin)

p.s. The following page is a 'must see' if you are researching fine china - for value and identification:-

Researching the identity and value of antique and vintage fine china.

Please post comments below which you think might be helpful……

Comments for Pottery mark query - Mueller and Circle Device

Click here to add your own comments

Mueller Vase
by: Anonymous

If this is a Mueller Vase made here in IL, my father can give you the background information on it, as he is retired from the Mueller Co. You can contact him at this email: theraymonds86@comcast.net

Mueller and Circle Device
by: Lynne from Illinois

Did we ever get an answer on this? I have 2 of these vases shaped just like the one in the picture but a totally different color. They also have the Mueller with the circle in the middle marking.

Anon, was the Mueller company your father worked for a ceramics place or the one in Decatur that makes fire hydrants?

Vase
by: Erica

I have a vase and pics trying to figure out how to upload to your site. I know nothing about it but would like to. Can you help? Email: Ericamattie@yahoo.com

Mueller with circle marking on vase
by: Lynne from Illinois

I finally found one that had sold on eBay recently. In the narrative about it they said it was made by the Mueller Co. in Decatur in the late 20's. They are still in business I think but make other things now. It sold for around $60. The 4 that I've seen (the one on eBay, one pictured here, and 2 that I own) are all shaped alike but just different colors. Hope that helps.

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Peter (admin) says:-

Brilliant work, Lynn. Thanks for passing this on and 'paying it forward!'

...More about Mueller & Co Vase
by: Peter (admin)

Following the information picked up on this thread I have tried to find out as much as I can on Mueller Co of Decatur, Illinois. There is no information in the normal china makers guides, so I have just googled around and found as much as possible. There is very little online, so if anyone can fill in the gaps, we would all very much appreciate it.

Apologies for any inaccuracies, please post if you can give any corrections, modifications or additions.

The company was founded by a Hieronymous Mueller in 1857. It seems Mueller was not a potter, but an inventor and gunsmith, who had emigrated from Germany to the US. One source said he invented the water tap and spark plugs, but this would have to be researched further to get to the bottom of that. His sons were also inventors and made items as diverse as roller skates, sinks and soda fountains. Apparently, the company was responsible for designing weapons which helped in the WW2 effort.

Apparently there is a Hieronymus Mueller Museum in Decatur. Perhaps someone can phone them Address: 420 W. Eldorado | Decatur, IL
Tel: 1 217 423-616 (I am not US based, so it would be more difficult for me).

What I want to know about is the pottery studio. I can find virtually no information on this.

One report says the family funded a department called "Mueller Hall" at the University of Illinois which contained an art pottery studio.

I don't know whether this was where the characteristic marbled vases were made. I read that the pottery output lasted only for about one or two decades, but I don't have any dates or details.

I would love it if someone with inside knowledge could just write on this thread below (just click on the 'make a comment link' below).

Interesting thread, thanks to all the contributions so far.

Peter (admin)

Mueller Pottery Vase information
by: Jennifer

I just got off the phone with a man who worked for the Mueller Co. in Decatur for 42 years. I too have one of these vases.

Mueller Vase


The information about Mr. Mueller above is correct, being a German Immigrant. I am told that they used to make porcelain commodes, urinals, toilets etc. Mr. Mueller never threw anything away, and even years after his death, they would take any left over porcelain at the end of the day mix some colors in it and make these vases.

The vases are all the same shape and are very art deco looking, made in the 1920's. They were given as gifts and not sold as they were not in mass production.

Apparently the company got out of the porcelain work and began doing metal work. The man I spoke with started in 1959 and worked in the metal foundry.

I hope this helps!

Jennifer

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Note from Peter (admin)

Hi Jennifer

What a star you are!! Fascinating insight! These lovely vases were made from oddments of porcelain - what a fantastic story! I think these vases are a real part of US folklore and heritage and am glad we are featuring the story here properly.

Being based in the UK, I find these vases interesting, exciting and very lovely - with a brilliant story behind them too. I wouldn't be surprised if they become collectible given time.

After all, what collector of American fine china wouldn't be interested in having one or two of these in their collection?

Plus, I have just Google-mapped Decatur and lo & behold, the next town along is none other than Springfield! Now that's more American than Mom's apple pie and white picket fences!

I like these vases a lot.

Peter (admin)

Mueller vases
by: Lynne from Illinoi

Thank you so much, Peter and Jennifer, for investigating and reporting! I live on the west side of Illinois and actually lived in Springfield for 15 years. I think it's time to take a little day trip to Decatur and look at the Mueller Museum there just to see if they have any displayed. If not, I guess it's on to Champaign to the U of I campus to see their display. It's such an interesting story. The ones I have were my grandmothers and since we have no ties in the Decatur area I can't imagine how she happened to have them but I guess that part will remain a mystery.

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Note from Peter (admin)

Lynne

When you do this trip, please write it up here in the comments section of your thread!

Photos would be good too. These comments sections weren't originally designed to have photo uploads, but I can get around the system by uploading them manually for you if you send them to my email here:-

Click here to e-mail me your pics
---OR---
If for some reason the above link is not working for you, then just copy and paste my address:-
peter@theclayartist.com


Hope you enjoy your trip soon!

Peter (admin)

p.s. You can write as many words as you like. I think there is a default number of words the system allows you, but if you run out of words, just do a 'continuation' on a new comments form.

More information about Mueller
by: Jennifer

Hi Peter and Lynne,

Thought I'd pass a little more information I learned about Mr. Mueller. He evidently did not like horses, so he decided to build automobiles. Between the end of the 1890's and beginning of 1900's he made three automobiles. He at some point spilled gas on himself and caught on fire and died.

The Mueller Museum in Decatur found one of the cars in California several years ago owned by a 93 year old man. The man agreed to loan the car to the museum for 1 year, but somehow that changed and now the museum owns the car and has it displayed (from what I was told, I have not seen it).

It sounds as if Mr. Mueller was a jack of all trades, from automobiles to porcelain to guns and ammo during the war to metal fittings and such.

The man I spoke with said if I go to my water shut off valve in my front yard and look into the ground at some of the metal fittings I should find something marked Mueller Co. (I live in St. Louis).

By the way Lynne, I was told the Museum is on Eldorado Street if you need a lead!

Take care,
Jennifer

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Jennifer

The story is sad but interesting. What an amazing character!

Peter (admin)

The Question of the Value of Mueller Co Vases
by: Peter (admin)

I do not normally touch on the value of items within the public forum on pottery marks as it is a specialist area which I cover in a different section here:- vintage and antique china values page....more.

However, valuing these rare Mueller items is different and not so straightforward. It rather depends on how many were actually made and given away and how many remain. I don't think the general ceramic experts I work with could really get a handle on the value of these - this is more a specialist area.

In one sense they are just ordinary molded vases made out of bits of old left-overs. In another sense they are a unique pieces of "Americana" or folk art representing the Art Deco era in the US as well as being a fascinating part of the history of one of the most interesting industrial companies ever to come out of the US.

If as rare as we think they are, I think their value lies as museum pieces (and not just local interest as in the local Decatur museum) and if I were a folk art curator or an industrial museum curator, or a curator of Americana I would want to be showing the story of this company. For example, near where I live in Bath, England, there is an American Museum which would likely want to have an example of this type of Americana in their inventory.

Were I to be the owner of one of these vases I would be talking to specialist auctioneers or museums in and around the subjects of....

Americana
Folk Art
Industrial History
Art Deco

If anyone wants to do some further research in this area, please go ahead and then let us know here please.

Peter (admin)

mueller vases
by: Terry

Hi I live in Decatur and have worked at Mueller co.for 20 so years. Your research on Mueller vase and MR. Mueller are pretty accurate The vases are end of the day vases and were used as salesmen samples to show buyers the color of porcelain. They also made two more styles and sizes that i am aware of. I have collected over time 7 small ones and one very rare large one. The Mueller museum would be a great stop to see Mueller items on display. The company is best known for its water and gas valves and manufacturing of fire hydrants, he also invented the tapping tool still used today to tap into water lines. At one time the museum offered a video on Mr. Muellers family history. Hope this helps I can send photos of vases if you like to see them.

Mueller Eye Witness Confirmation
by: Peter (admin)

Terry

Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to write in - very much appreciated.

Interesting to get your eye-witness account and confirmation we are piecing it together correctly.

Yes please, I would love to post up your pics.


Click here to e-mail me your pics
---OR---
If for some reason the above link is not working for you, then just copy and paste my address:-
peter@theclayartist.com

Mueller vase
by: Teena

Hi Peter:

I am in Decatur, IL now closing Mom' s estate. I came apron the mueller vase much like the one shown in picture. I will visit the Mueller museum next week, any new info I will pass on. This is so interesting. My dad worked there in the 1950's. Maybe that is where it came from.

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Reply by Peter (admin)

Hi Teena

Thanks for your reply. Please feel free to give us a first hand report of the museum. I am an avid fan of American travel writer and humorist, Bill Bryson, and one of the things I love about him is his childlike love of museums. He has reported on museums he has been to all over the world, including many provincial US ones. Funnily enough I have just come back from a trip to a lovely brand new museum in Bristol Docks England with my wife and little girl. Called the MT Shed, it features a giant steam driven crane, still unloading cargo off boats alongside. My daughter nearly craned her neck looking up at it.. They had to drag me away in the end. I love museums - could have stayed there all day, but we had an appointment with a cappuccino and a bacon sandwich. (sorry to go off topic)

Peter (admin)

Mueller Vases
by: Judy Harris

I also have 2 of these vases and I purchased them at an auction. I'm still looking for a value on them. Very nice small vases with unique colors. I have read all their history but just wanting to know their value now.....does anyone know that?

Value of Mueller Swirl Vases
by: Peter (admin)

I guess these Mueller vases are too new (not antiques yet) and a little too unknown (lacking in notoriety) and not perceived as 'quality' (they are not the luxurious wares of a prestige maker) to have any true collectible value yet, although they have do an interesting history, which is in their favour if this can be presented properly and the sale is local to where the history happened.

I looked through past listings of auction results from many different US auction houses and saw only one sale listed in 2008. The estimate was $100 - $150 yet the vase sold for only $33. The description listing was terrible and made no mention of the interesting 'Americana' type history.

Draw your own conclusions from this information.

Peter (admin)

Mueller Vases
by: Judy Harris

Thank you so much for your answer. I have had these vases for a period of time because I thought the history of them was very interesting and maybe they were something I should keep. I have decided I will sell them and will take your advice and try to give them the description and history story they deserve. I live only 50 mile from Decatur, Ill. so that is probably the reason I came up on them at an auction.
Again thank you!
Judy

A comment at to the value of a Mueller vase
by: A Different Mike

No idea how old this thread is, as there are no dates, but here goes: I've been an ebay seller for approximately 9 years. Between 2007 and 2008, I sold two of these Mueller vases on eBay simply as signed Mueller vase and without any detailed company history. In both instances, my vases fetched over $100. I forget exactly, but we'll say $120.00 each. I know it was over $100 because I almost threw the first vase away as junk. I got it in a $5 box lot at auction and thought it was a piece of junk. I was surprised when the price broke $100. I thought it was a fluke. The second vase I acquired in a consignment shop Wells, Maine for $6. I listed that as well and it too broke $100. It was then that I relaized that the Mueller vase may be something significant. Yesterday, June 6, 2013, I purchased another Muller vase, which I plan to list this weekend. I will post a link to the listing so you watch the listing to see what it sells for. I did a search of recent eBay sales for Mueller vases and this is what I came up with:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-1920s-Mueller-Co-Decatur-Illinois-6-1-2-Art-Deco-Style-6-Sided-Vase-/190845450350?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c6f46786e&nma=true&si=JXzzwcJCcnUQFDt5qB%252BbWHvmzvc%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Sold for $54.35 on May 31, 2013

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Signed-Mueller-American-Art-Pottery-Multicolor-Glaze-Vase-/130884882987?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e7958d22b&nma=true&si=JXzzwcJCcnUQFDt5qB%252BbWHvmzvc%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Sold for $41.00 on April 14, 2013

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Signed-Mueller-American-Art-Pottery-Multicolor-Glaze-Vase-/111042880603?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19daabe45b&nma=true&si=JXzzwcJCcnUQFDt5qB%252BbWHvmzvc%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Sold for $48.00 on April 4, 2013

I'm not sure if the links to the original listings will work. As a seller with a store subscription, I can search for an item and it will show me listed items but will also provide me with a link to view sold items.

Thanks for the valuation input
by: Mueller Vases

Hello different Mike

Interesting info, thanks.

I have a liking for these vases - they are real Americana and I can see why they may become collectable. I am not surprised at the fact you got over $100 USD. You must have done a decent description which did justice to them, unlike some of the others I saw.

Peter (admin)

Mueller Vase
by: Judy Harris

Different Mike,
I'm very interested in what your vase does on EBay this time. I also sell on the site and also still have two of these vases that I have not listed as of yet. Guess I thought value might increase if I held them for awhile. Will wait to see your posting.
Thank You
Judy Harris

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