I did not know much about Polish pottery until we started to sell it as a retailer. My wife has had pieces for years, but I guess I never really paid attention to it. I know I’m a guy, and I should probably be looking at sports equipment or tools; but this pottery is really nice. The artistry and colors are beautiful and many of the pieces are great to display in your home, and make a beautiful collectible which can be passed down as an heirloom for generations! The pottery is lead and cadmium free, and safe to use in the microwave, oven, dishwasher and freezer. Best of all, it’s affordable and functional! Cooking in it is excellent and with its nonstick surface its better than using a Teflon coated pan (ok, I now sound like I really know what I am talking about!).
This pottery has been around for centuries. In the 19th century the pottery became popular in Europe. Potters in Boleslawiec, Poland started using more colors, stamp ornaments (hand decorating the pottery with stamps) and a white background making the pottery much more vibrant. What makes this pottery very attractive and appealing are the bright colors used such as cobalt and peacock blues, browns, greens, yellows and reds.
Polish Pottery is beautiful and durable glazed stoneware that is hand-crafted in Boleslawiec which is located in the south-west region of Poland. The stoneware is a clay (unique to the region) which is kiln fired at extremely high temperatures exceeding 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a man-made stone that will not easily crack or chip and hard enough to resist scratching by a steel point.
There are a number of factories in Boleslawiec, Poland that manufacture Polish pottery. I understand the highest quality pottery is made by Ceramika Artystyczna, with their craftsmanship being internationally recognized. They employ the most talented artists who hand-paint each piece of pottery using brushes and sponges from the Baltic Sea. Another large manufacturer is Zaklady Ceramiczne. There are both “designers” and “artists” in the pottery process, and “potters” who have been involved in the business for generations.
How do I know the polish pottery I am buying is a “good deal” and at the same time high quality? Generally, pottery wholesalers are purchasing polish pottery from the same factories in Poland. However, not all wholesalers are selecting the best quality and buying from top quality factories. The pottery may have flaws or imperfections in the painting or even the piece itself. Make sure your polish pottery is manufactured at a high quality factory in Poland. A good way to determine the level of quality is to look at where the polish pottery is manufactured in Poland (the actual factory) and determine if it is Quality #1, or GAT #1 (GAT short for gatunek - meaning “type” or “kind” in Polish), both mean the polish pottery is of the highest quality.
Some pottery pieces are very intricate in design, made with six and eight colors, and signed by the artist. These pieces are called signature patterns or Unikat, which is a Polish word meaning “unique”. Does this mean that all other polish pottery that is not Unikat is not high quality? Of course not, many, many pieces of polish pottery, which are not signed by the artists, are beautifully designed and very high quality.
How do I know the polish pottery I am buying is a Unikat piece? These pieces although called signature patterns, they are not actually signed by the artist. The artists who paint signature patterns have extensive training in polish pottery art. It is important to note that there could be the same design number on a piece, but painted several different ways by different artists. The signature is located on the bottom of the piece and generally will indicate the following:
When you are selecting this pottery, sort by manufacturer at the retail website. Most websites have a Shop by Manufacturer function on the left or right side of the website. There are thousands of pottery designs. Shopping for Polish Pottery can be fun. Look for a retail website that allows for shopping by Pattern ID Number, so you can view all the products in the same pattern. An example of this type of Polish Pottery sorting can be found at Elizabeth Michaels Home.
Guys, now that you are educated in how to purchase polish pottery, get out there and buy some for yourself or your significant other! Really, you will love it!
Michael T. Murdock
Elizabeth Michaels Home
Michael T. Murdock is a co-proprietor of Elizabeth Michaels Home, which offers fine quality home decor and garden products including polish pottery, other ceramic pottery, wrought iron products, fireplace accessories, window boxes, bird houses, and much more.