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Vintage West German pottery

Updated on November 1, 2011

An introduction to West German pottery aka "Fat Lava"

We love vintage West German pottery dating from the 1950s-70s. It's currently really underrated but it's slowly growing in popularity.

We hope that this little taster will make you a fan of these fantastic ceramics!

After a period of time being generally 'out of fashion' these amazing ceramics are being appreciated once more for their style and eccentricity. They are now regularly seen gracing the pages of design and interior magazines.

The range of colours, shapes, textures and sizes is mind-boggling!

Some pieces are hand-thrown, others are mass-produced, stock shapes. However, as with Poole Pottery's 'Delphis' Pottery range, even these stock shapes can be transformed by the textures and the individual glazes in every colour imaginable. Pieces range in size from 3 inches to well over 20 inches tall for the larger floor vases.

A number of factories produced these characteristic ceramics - Baykeramik, Carstens, Dumler & Breiden, Jopeko, Roth, Ruscha and Scheurich to name but a few. Much has still to be learned about which company produced what. Some factories produced pieces with distinctive base markings such as the crossed swords of Dumler & Breiden, however the majority of pieces simply have serial number markings (often accompanied by 'German' or 'W. Germany'). You may be lucky enough to find a piece with the original paper label, otherwise you're in for a bit of detective work.

There hasn't been a great deal published on West German ceramics from this period, however Fat Lava, by Mark Hill (from Amazon UK) is a good starting point - it outlines the main factories and is packed with good quality colour photos.

In fact, the book was written to accompany an exhibition of German pottery from this period held at King's Lynn Arts Centre in 2006.

Another place to find out more is the GinFor's Odditiques website. Also Outernational, fat-lava.com and An Seta Pottery.

West German pots work well displayed in groups of either similar or contrasting colours. The larger floor vases look great as stand-alone pieces.

Our particular favourites are the fiery oranges and reds, particularly ones with the bubbling lava glazes. We've built up quite a collection but good examples are getting harder to find and prices are rising steadily.

If you have any examples that you'd like to share with other fans or would like help with identifying, we recommend a couple of forums:

The members are very helpful and incredibly knowledgeable!

We hope you've enjoyed browsing our lens. Have a look at our West German Pottery Collectors group on Flickr to see some more examples from us and other members. If this lens has inspired you to start your own collection, happy hunting!!

Books & magazines about West German pottery

Our favourite YouTube films on West German pottery

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi everyone, I am new to W. German Pottery collecting. I recently saw a beautiful Silderdistel vase on eBay. It's really nice. It's number is 151038802594 I know it can still be purchased inexpensively this one is very unique - at least I think it is.

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      cherricopottery 5 years ago

      wow those are some awesome pottery forms...thanks!