Rookwood Monkey Bookends

12 Feb
Photo of Rookwood Monkey Bookends

1986 Rookwood Pottery Monkey Bookends. 4.5 inches tall.

This pair of ceramic monkey bookends is relatively small, but it comes from the respected Rookwood Pottery Company.  Each bookend bears the Rookwood trademark on the base with the painted date of 1986.  The bookends are slip cast so the details are not sharp, but each figure is strengthened and weighted by factory plaster filled through the circular hole in the base.

Photo of Rookwood Bookend Base

Rookwood Monkey Bookend base. Impressed Trademark. Painted date of 1986.

The Rookwood Pottery Company was founded in 1880 in Cincinnati, and quickly became a premier maker of ceramic items in America and renowned for artistry.  This early prestige attaches to all Rookwood pottery today and makes their pottery relatively expensive. The company passed though several owners in the succeeding decades. From 1982 to 1986 it was run by the Townley family, when these monkeys were produced.  The monkeys are a reissue from a sculpture by Kataro Shirayamadani.  The monkeys,  produced during the Townley era, are known as “The monkey that saved Rookwood”.  Their popularity and sale as bookends and paperweights kept the company viable.

Kitaro Shirayamadani (1865-1948), a Japanese artist  and potter was hired in 1887  to take advantage of the popular interest in Japanese culture and artwork at that time.  His artistry is largely credited for Rookwood earning a gold metal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889.  Shirayamadani was working for Rookwood at the time of his death in 1948.

The Rookwood trademark is easily recognized.  The impressed trademark is a reversed R back-to-back with a P for Rookwood Pottery surrounded by 14 flames.  Rookwood added 1 flame per year of production from 1896 until 1900.  After 1900 the original factory used impressed Roman numerals at the base of the trademark to indicate the year of production.  As this pair is from the 1980s, the date is painted.  Check out this Kovel video that describes Rookwood Pottery dating system.


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