With many types of antiques, if a reproduction can be made cheaply and sold as the real thing you'd better believe that someone will try it. Roseville pottery is no exception. In fact, the market is flooded with forgeries, most of which are imported from China. Luckily determining whether or not a piece is real doesn't take much skill. A little research and careful inspection can go a long way. Here are a few things to look out for when buying Roseville pottery.
The first thing you will want to look at is the mark on the bottom of the piece. Most reproductions will just say "Roseville" rather than "Roseville USA." Very early reproductions included the "USA" in their marking, however customs frowned upon having a "USA" branding on goods not manufactured in the United States.
This being said, just because it lacks the "USA" doesn't mean it is a reproduction. Some real Roseville pottery made between 1932 and 1937 was imprinted with the word "Roseville" only, just like the forgeries. Look to see if the writing is imprinted on the bottom or has raised lettering. If the writing is, and does not say USA, you can almost be certain it is a forgery.
Also pay close attention to the "R" and the "S" in "Roseville;" these two letters should slant slightly to the right. For some help on identifying Roseville trademarks you may want to look at the Roseville Exchange website. They provide some excellent photos of both real and fake trademark stamps to help you to learn what to look for. They also have a complete catalog of Roseville pottery matched side by side with a reproduction to aid a new collector in telling them apart.
The details and materials
When looking beyond the trademark, you will want to first look at the glaze. More often than not the glaze on a reproduction will have a dull matte finish to it, feel rough to the touch, and will not allow the clays natural colors to shine through. The glazes used in the production of real Roseville pottery have a high gloss finish making them smooth; this is a drastic difference from their fake counterparts.
The clays used to produce Roseville pottery are of higher iron content than other clays, causing them to fire to a yellow or tan color. This may be one of the reasons reproduction glazes hide the clay; reproduction clays are commonly far whiter than the originals. Also, because of the lower iron content, fake Roseville pottery will be lighter weight than the real thing.
The last thing to look for is the detail of the painting. Take any fake piece and hold it up against its real counterpart; you will notice that the flowers and leaves are not pronounced and the colors aren't as brilliant. Go to the Roseville Exchange website and look at the photos they provide to understand this more clearly. They can be a great resource, especially for a beginner.