As “china” decorating swept the country in the 1870s, Maria Longworth Nichols was caught in the euphoria. Turning to glazes and clays, Maria continued along this decorative line which led to the creation of The Rookwood Pottery Company in 1879 in Cincinnati, Ohio.[i] Focusing on art pottery, Rookwood’s start was somewhat tenuous. Then in 1889 the pottery gained recognition by winning the gold medal in Paris at the “Exposition Universelle” and also winning an award at the American Art Exposition in Philadelphia the same year (Sigafoose 1998).

Advancing rapidly, a new Rookwood factory was constructed near the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1892 and the following year at the World Columbian Expo in Chicago the firm won the “Highest Award.” The 1890s witnessed continued growth for the pottery along with new clays and glazes introduced. In 1901, matte glazes came on the market and the following year Rookwood’s architectural department—which continually struggled to make a profit—also began taking orders.