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W. J. Gordy pottery is pieces of pottery made by American potter W. J. “Bill” Gordy.
Background and Description
Bill Gordy was born in 1910. He was trained as a folk potter, and branched off to create a unique style. He made pottery in Cartersville, Georgia, and won several awards and honours. He is credited with being one of the first potters in Georgia to make the transition from functional, utilitarian style to an artistic style. He was also the first Georgian potter to use colours in his glazes. The beautiful honeyed golden brown he called ‘Mountain Gold’ became his trademark colour. He had started by using clay that came from the flint river area in Middle Georgia, but began developing his own blends.
When he opened his own shop in 1935, it became a favourite for tourists travelling along the Dixie highway, and his name became quite well known. For twenty years, he sold everything he made. He used a wood kiln until 1955, and then moved onto gas. His products also changed with the times, as people needed less and less utilitarian items like churns and jugs, but collected his pottery more for display. Even as he became popular and recognised as one of the world’s finest potters, he was deeply reluctant to raise his prices or mass produce items.
He is considered today as the foremost potter in the south eastern United States during the 20th century. His work is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He is estimated to have single-handedly produced around a million pots during his lifetime. He died in 1993.
Collecting W. J. Gordy pottery
Pieces in his characteristic Mountain Gold colour are very popular. Face jugs may be the most valuable.
A genuine W. J. Gordy piece of pottery will have all his characteristics and his maker’s mark to the bottom.
Local auctions, particularly in the Georgia area.
Pieces of pottery by his father W. T. B Gordy, and his brother D. X. Gordy, are also collectible.
Smaller pieces of Gordy pottery, such as ashtrays, generally sell on eBay for $25-$40, while larger pieces sell for $30-$150. At auction, pieces like face jugs have fetched up to $4,500.
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