Maria Longworth Nichols had been decorating china since 1873 when, after seeing pottery at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, she began making her own vases at the Dallas Pottery in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1880 she started the Rookwood Pottery, which made white graniteware tableware and yellow clay pieces. Nichols and her friends also fired their art pottery at Rookwood. By 1881 Rookwood Pottery pieces were decorated with underglaze blue or brown prints, and some Japanese-inspired artware was also produced. In 1883 the popular Rookwood Standard Glaze was developed. Rookwood made some pottery with added silver overlay. It also made novelties, wall plaques, and vases. Rookwood made decorative architectural tiles from 1901 until the 1940s. Rookwood tiles were used in the New York City subways in the early 1900s and can still be seen in some stations.

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