How rare is Gouda pottery?
Well, look at a random Gouda item, and then try to find a second one
exactly the same. I predict that will be very hard, or most often
impossible. Of course pairs of e.g. vases do exist, but it is more
exception then norm. For older pieces it will be next to impossible, for
relatively new pieces you might get lucky.
Try to find a piece with a certain decor name, and you might manage, but
only for the more common decor names, and then when you find a piece with
the wanted decor, it is probably a different shape and/or size. Less
common decors or older models often cannot be found at all.
The biggest producer of Gouda earthenware was the “PlateelBakkerij Zuid
Holland”, (the PZH), but even though millions of pieces were produced it
is still nearly impossible to find matching pieces. Compare this to a
stamp or coin collection where it will be possible to find a similar
piece. The scarcity of Gouda pottery can probably be explained by the
fragile nature of the product. There has been a lot of breakage since its
inception. Most of the “gouda”-production happened in the 1920’s. That is
almost 100 years ago. How many times would those pieces have moved houses,
changed families and even crossed oceans by now? Also the average
house in the early 1900 was not really made to preserve pottery. Houses
were primarily places to live in and were not made to preserve fragile art
Drop a rare postage stamp, and it probably survives the ordeal, do the
same with a piece of pottery and . . . it‘s history. So
really, it is only getting scarcer.
Also events like the 2nd world war would not have helped. Actually also
the recent New Zealand earthquake in 2011 was reported to have caused
widespread destruction to a rather large “Gouda”-collection held over
there. So if Gouda is scarce now, it will only get scarcer still.
The other interesting fact is that there is literally not one book
available that describes all the variations and decors ever made. A stamp
or coin catalogue gives a complete overview of what is available, there is
no such thing for Gouda pottery. Good literature is available, but
undocumented models and decors still surface from all over the world. If
it was somehow possible to collect all shapes, sizes and decors, the total
number of pieces would run into the many thousands.
In the 30 or so years that I collect Gouda I have seen very few identical
pieces, they do exist but to find them is another thing. For some pieces
there is just no other one around at all, these were made on request or as
a one off. Either way whether pieces are unique or not, they are so scarce
that it is most often impossible to find a duplicate, this is proof of how
scarce they are and it allows collectors to create unique collections. I
find that a very attractive thought.
Despite the overall rarity Gouda pottery can be found for sale at prices
starting at $10 and of course at much higher prices.
for a bit more on its value.