Fat Lava Palaver

There were numerous ceramic studios in West Germany in the post-war decades. Scheurich, the largest and most prolific studio, still in operation today although it no longer produces this style of pottery. E S Keramik was another large producer with a reputation for quality and striking designs though not so good at marking products and Ruscha produced quality items such as The Ruscha 313. There were many others such as, Bay, Carstens, Otto, Jopeko, Roth, Steuler, and Ü-Keramik - the list goes on.

However, one of the best tools you can use is your eyes- looking around flea markets and shops throughout Europe they do tend to pop up frequently and once you have your eye in you will be spotting them forever- even when you have decided your collection is large enough (it never is)! The pots may not have any marks or stickers at all but you can just tell, if you like it and the price is right, buy it! In many ways the finding of a West German pot is part of the fun of the collector: the search, the find and the haggle all add to the story of ownership. Good luck!

The most synonymous design feature of the genre is the Fat Lava glaze which gives the pottery its tactile quality. Another element was form, handles were no longer just shoved on at the end but were an integral part of the design, shape challenged and added interest. Colours were bold and solid, whatever colour or colour combination you prefer, it’s probably been replicated in West German pottery. Reds, blues, oranges, and earth tones are frequently found. Greens, yellows and white are less common. Complexity of designs can add to the value of pots; obviously a handled jug or finely ridged vase that has survived is rarer and an intricate pattern which has taken time and workmanship to achieve should be considered more significant than a plainer style.

Identifying West German pottery can be tricky; studios were lax about marking their pieces. Many do still have branded stickers – very useful! The base of the pot may have a mark with up to 3 numbers identifying the piece, the place of manufacture and the company, unfortunately they do not always have all or any of these numbers, however a piece with no numbers could still be a genuine West German pot! The base colour can help too, Ceramano, Roth and Carstens all used red clay while most others used off white.

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