Wells Art Glazes by Homer Laughlin
The following originally appeared on pages 195-197 of An Overview of Homer Laughlin Dinnerware ©2002,
and is being posted on www.laurelhollowpark.net with permission along with corrections and updates.

There's a lot of confusion generated by the Wells Art Glazes marking. It was subject to be used on any shape that received a solid colored glaze. This includes, but is not limited to , the plain round Wells shape, Old Roman, Orleans, OvenServe, Coronet, Empress, and a few specialty pieces. These unrelated shapes have one thing in common: select pieces were dipped in solid colors first available in the early 1930s.
Art glazes are matte in texture and are uneven in many cases. The following table lists shapes and various colors that have been confirmed on those shapes. Click on the appropriate links for more on each shape.

Color Shape
Leaf Green Wells, OvenServe, Orleans, Tango shakers
French Rose Wells, OvenServe, Orleans, Tango shakers
(Melon) Yellow Wells, OvenServe, Coronet, Empress teapot
Burnt Sienna (a.k.a.Rust) Wells, OvenServe, Orleans, Tango shakers
Sea Green Coronet
Depression Green Old Roman
Blue Vellum Empress teapot
Red Wells

The first four colors listed are considered by many to be the standard Art Glazes. Wells is the dominate shape, but other shapes received the same glazes and often the same marking. Leaf green, rust, and rose, a.k.a. peach, have been found on OvenServe casseroles and under plates. Yellow was a standard OvenServe color so expect those pieces to have an OvenServe backstamp, not W.A.G. Orleans in rust, rose, and leaf green were sold as "Antique Orleans" and may be marked as such or simply "Antique."

Wells shapes in Burnt Sienna (rust) and Leaf Green.
Photo from the research files of Joanne Jasper.

The sea green color is a little more consistent than the leaf green commonly used on the Wells shape. Depression Green is not as transparent as the earlier green used on Newell and Trellis in the very late 1920s to early 30s. In fact, Depression Green is rather close to Fiesta's light green , but slightly darker. Coronet and Old Roman in art glazes may carry their own marks or W.A.G.

Blue Vellum and yellow were used on Empress teapots. They were special order and not used with a dinnerware line. On December 15, 1932, Rhead notes making samples in blue: Wells Art Glazes in blue. Samples sent in Century - medium blue 1226, Wells - light blue 895, gray blue 987, medium blue enamel 661, blue enamel 650, strong blue enamel 638. The blue eventually used on Empress teapots was eventually called Blue Vellum on several occasions in Rhead's notes.

An HLC memo dated September 11, 1941 gives some indication as to when the art glazes were finally retired: As you know, we are discontinuing the art glazes in the four colors. It is suggested that you have the proper samples set aside for historical records.

Wells plate and sugar in Burnt Sienna

Wells teapot in red

Natuilus lug soup in rose with marking. This was probably a pick-up piece. Don't expect to find other Nautilus items in art glazes.

Wells bullion in rust

Wells sauceboat in leaf green

The "deco" tumbler was glazed in a golden color similar to OvenServe's orange (pumpkin) glaze.
The handed mug in leaf green was made in 1933. Entires in Rhead's journals mention this piece:

03.17.33 Modeled Beer Stein - grape border.
04.01.33 Barrel shape stein, modeled borders. Quantity three dozen only. Purpose: Beer mug possibility
04.15.33 Clay stein - fruit border out.
04.20.33 First modeled stein out in Art Glazes. Ordered bisque out today in Rust and Vellum.

The "deco ashtrays" were first made in 1931. They didn't originate with any particular dinnerware line and examples have been found with at least three different backstamps: Wells Art Glazes, OvenServe, and the general HLC marking.

When the first pieces of OvenServe were modeled in 1933, an ashtray was under consideration. Instead of creating one with the embossed OvenServe design, the "deco" ashtray from 1931 was used instead. Most of the ashtrays found with the OvenServe marking are in orange (pumpkin) or ivory.

The original center ring design mimicked the partial rings found on the rim; small with wide spacing between them. Within two years, these smaller center rings were replaced by the larger and more narrowly spaced type shown. In the foreground are ashtrays in WAG rose and rust.

Deco ashtray, Wells double egg cup, and a Tango shaker in art glaze green.

WAG marking on an Old Roman saucer

Wells platter and Empress teapot

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