Until I started my research, little was known with certainty about Kent Art Ware or KAW for short. Identifying it is straightforward enough since every piece is stamped on the bottom Kent Art Ware. Virtually all are also stamped Japan.
KAW was produced during the last half of the 1930’s and possibly into the 1940’s prior to December 1941 when Japan entered the Second World War.
Kent Art Ware was very inexpensive in its day. One of the best sellers, the ten inches tall “Female Head with Applied Hair” seen here, originally sold in stores for $1.29.
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 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.
Of real significance, the mirror image figurine is clearly marked on the bottom, “Moriyama – Made in Japan”. Moriyama Pottery was established in 1911 by Hidekichi Nakamura. Assuming there was a connection between the Moriyama Pottery and Noritake, and to date finding no existing records of Kent Art Ware either in Japan or America, my conclusion is this…
In the 1930’s a fancy-ware (giftware) distributor in the USA contacted the New York City ceramics maker and wholesaler, Morimura Brothers, later to be renamed Noritake. The distributor asked them to produce an inexpensive private label line of Art Deco and other ceramics to be named Kent Art Ware. Noritake chose in this instance to contract Hidekichi Nakamura’s Moriyama Pottery to produce Kent Art Ware. To put it In a nutshell, the Buyer was in the US, Morimura Brothers (Noritake) was the bi-lingual Broker, and Nakamura’s Moriyama Pottery was the Manufacturer.
I find the quality of ceramics in my KAW collection to be uneven as primarily determined by how well the greenware was prepared prior to firing.
My assessments aside, one must remember KAW was not produced for the well-heeled, but for average Americans who took the trolley downtown to purchase something special for their fireplace mantel perhaps – something eye-catching the five and dimes and smaller stores neatly clustered on their crowded shelves.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND KENT ART WARE
It does have its advantages for the collector. Current prices of items that actually sell tend to be reasonable, and it is safe to say KAW is not being reproduced for there would be little profit motive 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 their families, they collect Art Deco, or just like individual items for their merits. For me, it is fun discovering pieces of KAW I never knew existed. If you own a piece not pictured in the Gallery, or a finish variation on one that is, please email me a good digital photo and I will include it with your permission. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d be happy to hear from you – especially from anyone who might have additional information about Kent Art Ware.