Until recently, little was known with certainty about Kent Art Ware, or KAW for short. Identifying it is straightforward enough since each and every piece is stamped on the bottom, Kent Art Ware – Japan. We also know KAW was produced during the last half of the 1930’s and possibly into the 1940’s prior to December 7, 1941 when Japan entered the Second World War. (America’s Art Deco period was from 1909 to 1939.)
It was suggested by a ceramics authority to an Art Deco dealer in the UK the brand was created by Noritake as a far less expensive alternative to Germany’s Rosenthal and Hutschenreuther ceramics and Vienna’s Goldscheider ceramics. Noritake did indeed have an American office in New York City during the lifetime of KAW, yet a phone call in 2008 to the current Noritake corporate office did not turn-up anything of value including confirmation of the Noritake connection.
The firm suggested I contact a well-known and respected china replacement company well versed in Noritake history. As it turned out they did not have information about Kent Art Ware either, but the gentleman I spoke with was kind enough to contact an expert within a highly respected Noritake collector organization. The gracious authority on Noritake promptly sent me an email with what she knew. The email was a cut and paste of an early version of this page and I was right back where I started.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND KENT ART WARE
KAW may be found primarily on eBay, other auction sites, yard and estate sales, and antiques stores though certainly not as frequently or abundantly as more familiar makers of Art Deco era ceramics.
It does have its advantages for the collector. Since KAW is not a hot collectible, at least as of this writing, prices tend to be reasonable. And it is safe to say KAW is notbeing reproduced for there would be little profit motive in the reproduction capital of China or elsewhere to do so.
I often wonder if I am the only person avidly collecting Kent Art Ware just because it is Kent Art Ware. Others own KAW because it has been handed down within theirfamilies, they collect Art Deco, or Japanese Art Deco, or just like individual items for their merits. In any event, for me, it is fun discovering pieces of KAW I never knew existed.
To my knowledge, this site is the first time anyone has attempted to catalog Kent Art Ware. If you own a piece not pictured here, or a finish variation on one that is, please email me a digital photo and I will include it with your permission. email@example.com
I would be happy to hear from you! I’d be especially happy to hear from anyone who might have additional information regarding it.
Kent Art Ware was offered in a creamy white and less often in a brighter white. Some were cold-painted with gold accents, or fired partially painted in a limited number of colors, or far less frequently, fully painted. The size of the pieces did not vary, but color schemes did and I have examples of the same items withdifferent finishes.
I find the pieces in my KAW collection to be uneven and the same may be said of how well the greenware was prepared and painted prior to firing.
My assessments aside, one must remember KAW was not produced for the well-heeled, but for average Americans who lived and worked in the period we know asArt Deco – people who took the trolley downtown to purchase something special for their fireplace mantel perhaps – something eye-catching the five and dimes andsmaller department stores neatly clustered on their crowded shelves.