Q: I found these Rookwood bookends of Union Terminal at a local thrift store. I cannot figure out if they are the original version or a new version the company made in 2000. If you can help me understand old vs. new, I would appreciate it.
A: Rookwood pottery was made in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1880 to 1960. The flame mark, with the reverse letter "R" next to the letter "P," was first used in 1886. One flame was added each year through 1900, making 14 flames. After 1900, a Roman numeral was added to the mark to indicate the year. The mark on your bookends indicates they were made in 1933, which is the year Cincinnati's Union Terminal was dedicated. Rookwood's assets and molds have been sold several times. The company is now in business again making art tiles, art pottery, and cremation urns. The Union Terminal bookends have been reissued. A pair of Union Terminal bookends in a white matte glaze, made in 1933 as presentation pieces, sold for $5,500 at a 1997 auction. You can buy the newer version in a buff color from the new Rookwood Pottery for $25. New Rookwood is marked with a Roman numeral, but it includes the century (MMII for 2002, for instance). Roman numerals on original Rookwood pieces made after 1900 do not include the century.