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West German Stoneware & Fat Lava

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

If you have a tendency towards OCD (as I do) and a love of ceramics (as I do) then you may be interested in building a collection of West German Stoneware, often referred to as Fat Lava.

From the 1950's, many (West) German ceramicists started to design and manufacture some incredible vases, pots, planters and even animals, in bright colours and glazes - many using a technique that raised a rough glaze over the top of a more traditional one that bubbled in a volcanic sense, hence the name Fat Lava.


These makers included names like Scheurich (still going today), Carstens, Roth, Dumler & Breiden, Bay, Otto Keramik, Ruscha, Jasba and others all of whom have distinctive styles and glazes.


The one thing that unites them is what’s on the base.


Take one of these vases and turn it upside down and you will start to see what the collectors do. Around the outside there is usually a script saying W. GERMANY which dates it to post 1949. The clay ring should be almost white and in addition you will see a set of figures such as 240/25 or 540/15 which will denote a style or shape of vase.



The OCD part kicks in when you realise that for each 240/15 (or indeed any) vase, there can be unlimited different colours and glazes. It means you could, for example, collect just one style, and have literally dozens of vases all the same shape and size, but all in different glazes!!


Equally, if you want to collect the Bulls (Ruscha/Otto Keramik), they come in all colours and shapes and are striking to look at.


You could also collect one specific designer. Roth for example, is one of the more valuable, and therefore expensive, houses to collect but the thrill of finding one at a boot sale or trade fair, hidden amongst a bunch of tat for a few pounds is incredible.


Prices start for as little as £10-15 for smaller vases and can range up to £500-£800 for the really top range items, and if you decide to pop into The Beehive you’ll find a number of pieces waiting for you.


Be careful though, it’s highly addictive!!


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