Ü KERAMIK VASE WITH IMPRESSED ABSTRACT DECOR 1400/30
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An outstanding example of an Ü KERAMIK relief-series vase in a striking color combination of light blue and cadmium yellow with an incised abstract design in black. The mark on the base, partially obscured by the glazing, indicates the mold number and the size in centimeters (1400/30).
Ü KERAMIK (AKA ÜBELACKER) began as a tin foundry in 1909 in Ransbach-Baumbach in the Rhineland. Its founder, master tinsmith Johann Übelacker, initially produced only pewterware—but he soon experimented with pieces that incorporated stoneware elements (in the manner of the common beer stein). Their popularity led to an expansion into the manufacture of terracotta, fine earthenware goods, and eventually glazed ceramics in the 1930's. Sometime after WWII, Ü KERAMIK began collaborating with SIERSHAHNER, a maker of klinker pottery; by 1949 it had taken over the operation. Together the two companies employed more than 550 people and were well positioned to supply the war-weary European population with some of the domestic trappings of a brighter, prosperous future.
Übelacker was an early adopter of his industry's technical innovations. In 1954, working with Ü KERAMIK's resident chemist and artistic director, Heinz Hommerich, he pioneered the mass-scale production of of selenium-red glazed objects in Germany. Newly formulated, the fiery red finish gave the firm a great advantage in the marketplace. It would prove to be the last innovation that Übelacker would personally introduce; he died in 1955, leaving the business in the hands of his three sons, who had learned the trade from childhood. By this time Ü KERAMIK was one of the largest producers in the region. Its impressive range of products included all kinds of ceramic items, both consumer and ornamental. The 1958 catalogue featured 25 different models of vases (excluding wall vases and pitchers), available in 66 sizes and 15 designs. A relatively large portion of Ü KERAMIK's output was exported to Austria and Scandinavia.
In 1960 the three Übelacker brothers were enticed by attractive incentives in the Irish Republic to help establish KILRUSH, a ceramics factory on Ireland's west coast. Unfortunately, the concern failed after only two years. (It was eventually acquired by ROSENTHAL in 1973.) Nevertheless—and even as interest in decorative ceramics began to wane in Germany during the 1980's—Ü KERAMIK products remained very popular in Scandinavia; so to better serve these markets, a second Irish venture was launched. The second time proved no charm. The factory was a financial debacle and left the Übelackers struggling with debt. As a result, the Siershahn factory had to be closed, and finally, in 1990, the main plant in Ransbach filed for bankruptcy.
A note on identification: Ü KERAMIK pieces were generally made of white or off-white clay and were usually only marked on the bottom with the form number and height. Foil stickers with the company logo were frequently used; occasionally the logo can be found impressed on the base. Consisting of a circled u-umlaut (ü), the logo bears a striking resemblance to a smiley face.
Production Period – 1960-1969
Country of Origin – WEST GERMANY
Maker – Ü KERAMIK
Attribution – MARKED
Materials – CERAMIC
Colors – RED, YELLOW, WHITE, BLACK
Condition – VERY GOOD (no defects; may show slight traces of use)
Height (cm) – 36.0