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RumRill Pottery- The Ohio Years 1938-1942

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A book by Francesca Fisher that takes you through Ohio pottery history.

When she's not teaching exercise classes or producing new exercise dvd's, Francesca writes books! Her new book entitled, “RumRill Pottery – the Ohio Years 1938-1942” was released in 2008 and has been the pottery bible for those that collect Ohio pottery.

Fisher’s passion for collecting RumRill pottery began when she was just 16-years-old. She frequently attended garage sales with her mother who was an avid glass collector. However, Fisher chose the soft earthen feel that the clay gave and purchased her first piece of RumRill pottery. That vase was marked “RumRill H-10 USA” on the bottom.

Fisher returned home and scoured every antique book guide and periodical her mother had, but she could not find any information about the pottery. Very little was written about it, so she continued to endeavor finding out as much as she could about this short-lived pottery.

Several years later, Fisher’s collection had grown to 100 pieces but there was still no information about it. “RumRill has never been a very easy pottery to find,” she says. “I’d go to shows and flea markets and ask the dealers if they had any RumRill, and they’d reply Rum Wheel???… never heard of it.”

Unlike McCoy, Shawnee, Roseville and Weller pottery, which were also manufactured in clay-rich southern Ohio, RumRill pottery was manufactured in Mt. Gilead, Ohio during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Although it did not have the quality of its rivals Roseville and Weller, its pleasing shapes and designs were unique and quite colorful.

In 1995, Fisher attended an antique show in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and found a dealer from Michigan that had 20 pieces of the pottery for sale. “I was like a kid in a candy store, and I bought every one of them,” she said. The dealer gave her some very limited information about the pottery, although he was not even sure how accurate the information was since it was handed down to him from another dealer. He told her it was either manufactured in Zanesville or Mt. Gilead, Ohio.

Shortly after that, Fisher took out classified ads in the Columbus area and the Mt. Gilead newspapers requesting that if anyone had any knowledge of RumRill pottery or had worked at the factory, to please contact her at her toll-free number. To her surprise, eight people answered the ad the first week it ran.

She made arrangements to drive to Mt. Gilead the following weekend and interviewed Katherine Kline who was the widow of Howard Kline, the bookkeeper that worked at the Florence Pottery Company which manufactured RumRill pottery from 1938-1941.

Fisher sat in Kline’s kitchen for more than two hours interviewing her about the fire that destroyed the plant in 1941 as well as all the other employees who worked there. Kline called neighbors to inform them about her important visitor and they came over to the house to be interviewed. Thus, the making of a book began.

Fisher continued collecting the pottery and researched every chance she got. During the advent of the internet in 1993, Fisher had a brand new tool to communicate with to the world. She found RumRill relatives and interviewed them as well as historians that had information archived about the little-known pottery. She then formed the RumRill Society Newsletter and had a membership of more than 200 the first year. These collectors shared their knowledge about the pottery and more and more information surfaced.

In the summer of 1995, Fisher met a man from Ravenna who also collected RumRill pottery, and the two of them began collaborating together. She found out that there were some catalogs and letters that the Ohio Historical Society had salvaged from the fire that destroyed the plant, and she borrowed them to put together the book.

It took over eight months to write the book and several weeks to photograph the 900-piece combined collection. “The 159 page book contains an important part of Ohio history that would have been permanently lost if someone had not written about it,” she claims. “This was my chance to do my give-back to the community so that I could share my knowledge about this beautiful pottery that was made by George RumRill.”

Francesca Fisher lives in Temecula, California with her husband, Carl, a contemporary marble artist.