Exploring La Belle China: A Glimpse into Wheeling Pottery’s Legacy

Wheeling Pottery: A Flourishing Legacy (1879-1923)

Founded in 1879 and operational until 1923, Wheeling Pottery, located in Wheeling, West Virginia, left an indelible mark on the American pottery scene. In 1910, the company faced financial challenges and shifted its focus to manufacturing sanitary wares. Later, La Belle China emerged under the same management, and the two entities eventually amalgamated. However, the ascent of imported china marked the beginning of the decline for American pottery companies.

The Allure of Flow Blue Transferware

La Belle China’s most coveted creations belong to the realm of Flow Blue transferware, a prized category in the world of collectibles. This distinct style, popular from the 1800s to the early 1900s, commands significant attention on platforms like eBay, where bidding frenzies can drive prices to remarkable heights.

The Crown Jewel: La Belle Chocolate Pot

Among La Belle China’s treasures, the Flow Blue chocolate pot reigns supreme. Once a status symbol for well-to-do Victorian families, the chocolate pot’s rarity and historical significance elevate its value. In Jeffrey Snyder’s “A Pocket Guide To Flow Blue,” a chocolate pot of this caliber is valued between $1200-1500, showcasing its desirability among collectors.

Navigating the Collector’s Path: What to Look For

  1. Maker’s Mark Inspection: Ensure authenticity by closely examining the maker’s mark, a torch with double eagles, along with the initials WP and LaBelle China. Watch for signs of tampering or additions.
  2. Crazing Consideration: Some crazing (cracked glazing) is acceptable, but scrutinize for any chips, cracks, or repairs, as these diminish the piece’s monetary value.
  3. Fitting Components: Verify the presence of original components, ensuring that lids or parts aren’t replacements. Confirm the vibrancy of the transfer pattern and assess the extent of gold trim paint loss, factors influencing the overall value.
  4. Expert Guidance: When uncertain, seek guidance from a local ceramic restoration shop. Professional insights can safeguard your investment and ensure the piece’s authenticity.

Educational Resources and the Thrill of the Hunt

Delve into the world of china and porcelain through local library resources and online platforms. Uncover maker’s marks, manufacturing years, and examples of La Belle China’s diverse pieces. Embrace the thrill of the hunt at your local estate sale, where hidden treasures await discovery.