Is all Polish Pottery created equal? The answer is a most definite NO. Just because a piece of stoneware is derived from the town of Boleslawiec Poland does not inherently make it a quality piece of Polish Pottery. So, how can you determine what kind of piece you have?
First, there are ten very notable producers of Polish Pottery from Boleslawiec, Poland. The most well known and established are Zaklady Ceramiczne and Ceramika Artystyczna, which have been in operation since 1947 and 1950, respectively. Others include Manufaktura, Wiza, Millenium, WR, Dana, Andy, Cerfar, Cergor, and many other small factories as well! While some of these have been established for nearly 40 years, others are less than 10 years old.
My first recommendation to Polish Pottery collectors is that they turn their Polish Stoneware over, and look for the logo on bottom. What shape is it? What factory name is written there? Take that information or description and look it up on the Internet!
I understand that for the casual collector it is a mess of names, logos, and codes that distinguish what makes once piece of Polish Stoneware better than the other. There are literally over 4,000 Polish Pottery patterns that are painted Boleslawiec, Poland. So, if you find one piece you like…beware…it may be an easy or very difficult pattern to track down in the future!
Firstly, it is important to note that Polish Pottery comes in Category levels of quality. The level 1 Category is dishwasher and oven safe, and the pottery piece is safe up to 420 degrees Farenheit. 2nd Level Polish Pottery Stoneware items are safe in the oven up to 325 degrees but may have small artistic/pattern imperfections. Pottery marked as level 3 and below indicates the pottery should not be used in the oven or dishwasher. Level 4 and below designate a piece in which the glaze hasn’t completely set, so it is not recommended to use for serving food.
Beyond the Quality Category, there are other factors that affect the prices of Polish Pottery. For example, in regards to just the 1st Quality Polish Stoneware, you will notice that the same form, in different patterns, can be up to four different prices. This is because the Polish Factories themselves rate their patterns based on difficulty, and therefore value the most difficult patterns most. Signature or Unikat (“unique” in Polish) pieces are signed/autographed pieces that are painted with the highest level of difficulty, and therefore require the highest price.
With there being so many different Polish Pottery Factories, it is guaranteed you will be confused if you try to compare all of the factories, their labeling methods, and different patterns.
So with all being said and done, I like to stick to 1st Quality pieces. I am not a collector of decorative accessories, and prefer that all of my Polish Pottery pieces can go from the oven to the dinner table. Since I have collected Polish Dishes from many of the factories, my personal experience has led me to favor some factories over others.
For example, I am in love with pasta plates, which are a mix between a plate and a soup bowl. I own a set of matching pasta plates from both the Manufaktura Factory, as well as a different set from the Zaklady Factory. After having used all of these pieces for the past 8+ years, I have found an immense difference in wear and tear between the two manufacturers. The Manufaktura plates show cracking and discoloration under the glaze, whereas the Zaklady pieces look like I just purchased them yesterday. Not to pick favorites, but I’m just saying…
Zaklady pieces are most affordable, whereas the highly valued Ceramika Artystyczna pieces are higher-end and demand a high price tag. Both of these factories use vibrant colors and patterns that don’t fade.
However, I don’t want you to think that I am discouraging purchasing from smaller Polish Stoneware factories! I have run across some of the most beautiful patterns from small family companies that have 2 or 3 painters, and one person producing the forms. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt if the next “big factory” is getting its start in an artist’s living room in Boleslawiec at this very moment!
But please be aware as you start your collection that you should pay attention to what quality Polish Pottery you are purchasing, and which factories they originate from. You will soon determine your favorite factories and patterns, and will decide for yourself which items will find a permanent place in your home!
About the Author:
Alisa Lybbert has been a retailer and obsessed collector of Polish Pottery for eight years, and sells a large selection of Polish Stoneware on her website, http://Northstar-Treasures.com. She can be reached at 801-210-1510, or by the email contact form on her website.
Is all Polish Pottery created equal?