Appraiser Brian Thomczek had both good and bad news for Pat Cornett about the two pieces she brought to the recent appraisal event at the Michigan Design Center in Troy.

“Which do you want first??” he joked as he took a closer look at the two items, which included an unsigned lithograph by Jean Paul Riopelle and a piece of Rookwood Pottery.

He chose to address the pottery first. “Rookwood was started in Cincinnati and is considered premium art pottery,” Cornett told the appraiser. “I’m a native of Cincinnati and know quite a bit about Rookwood and its history.”

“I always knew about the pottery and coveted the good pieces,” she went on to explain. “I have never seen a piece come up at a flea market. I was visiting my mom in Cincinnati and went to a silent auction held as a charitable benefit at a private home in Cincinnati sometime in the early 1990s.”

She paid $60 for the vase, which is 7 1/2 inches high with a diameter at the top of 2 ½ inches. It features stylized vines and flowers, including one that looks like a daffodil or paper white. It also features the signature hallmark on the bottom, which is an intertwined R and P with flames and Roman numerals that represent the production date.  

Not surprisingly, the Cincinnati Art Museum has a great collection of Rookwood and is a good place to start for collectors looking to learn more, Thomczek said.

“Roseville and Weller Pottery also came from Ohio,” the appraiser added. “In our area, Pewabic became a competitor, both potteries were founded by artistic and enterprising women.”

According to, the pottery was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols. Thomczek said Cornett’s piece dates to the 1930s and is “a later piece although it’s in great condition with a nice provenance.” Unfortunately, the market for art pottery is down at the moment, although Thomczek thought the piece would easily bring at least $400 to $600 at auction, a good return on her $60 investment. “Rookwood also made functional pieces but they are very famous for their designs and  matte finish.”

The news wasn’t as positive on the Riopelle piece. According to Cornett, Riopelle was a French-Canadian artist. “I bought it in January 1969 at a open gallery sale being held in a room at the Michigan League on the University of Michigan campus.. The sale was sponsored by the Ferdinand Roten galleries of Baltimore, and I'm including their label that was attached to the back of the print. Unfortunately, the print suffered some water damage at one time, which is visible on the upper right-hand corner. I don't remember how much I paid for the print, but it couldn't have been very expensive because I was a U of M graduate student at the time and didn't have much money,” she explained in her original email.

Thomczek said the artist lived from 1923 to 2002, and that the print is “more than likely from a book page of prints.” Because it is unsigned, its value would be just $80 to $100. If signed and original, that number would go up to about $800 at auction, he said.

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.   

About this item

Item: Pottery and print

Owned by: Pat Cornett

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: $600 to $800 and $80 to $100.

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