West German Ceramics

Collection of vintage West German 'Fat Lava' pottery vases

We recently posted a photograph of two lava glazed vases on our Flickr page which has proved very popular. So we thought that we’d write a few words and share a few more photos about West German ceramics from the 1950s to the 1970s.

After a period of time being generally ‘out of fashion’ these amazing ceramics are being appreciated once more for their style and eccentricity. They are now regularly seen gracing the pages of design and interior magazines. The range of colours, shapes, textures and sizes is mind-boggling!

Collection of West German 'Fat Lava' vases

Some pieces are hand-thrown, others are mass-produced, stock shapes. However, as with the Poole Delphis Pottery range, even these stock shapes can be transformed by the textures and the individual glazes in every colour imaginable. Pieces range in size from 3 inches to well over 20 inches tall for the larger floor vases.

West German vase with impressed detailing

Impressed ‘thumbnail’ detailing

Fat lava glaze detail

Frothing lava glaze

Incised West German vase

Incised decoration

Colourful West German vase

No rules with colour combinations!

Base detail of West German vase

Typical base markings

A number of factories produced these characteristic ceramics – Baykeramik, Carstens, Dumler & Breiden, Jopeko, Roth, Ruscha and Scheurich to name but a few. Much has still to be learned about which company produced what. Some factories produced pieces with distinctive base markings such as the crossed swords of Dumler & Breiden, however the majority of pieces simply have serial number markings (often accompanied by ‘German’ or ‘W. Germany’). You may be lucky enough to find a piece with the original paper label, otherwise you’re in for a bit of detective work. Fat Lava book by Mark Hill

There hasn’t been a great deal published on West German ceramics from this period, however Fat Lava, by Mark Hill (from Amazon UK) is a good starting point – it outlines the main factories and is packed with good quality colour photos.

In fact, the book was written to accompany an exhibition of German pottery from this period held at King’s Lynn Arts Centre in 2006.

Another place to find out more is the GinFor’s Odditiques website. Also Outernational, fat-lava.com and An Seta Pottery.

The pots work well displayed in groups of either similar or contrasting colours. The larger floor vases look great as stand-alone pieces.

Our particular favourites are the fiery oranges and reds, particularly ones with the bubbling lava glazes. We’ve built up quite a collection but good examples are getting harder to find and prices are rising steadily.

Trio of West German vases

Trio of small, red and brown West German vases, 4-6 inches tall

Trio of 1950s West German vases

Trio of incised vases – classic 1950s shapes

Blue West German vase

Blue vase with original Scheurich paper label

Huge floor vases

Floral West German vase with rustic stool and knitted cushion

Fat lave glazes provide striking accent colours

We hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of our collection. Have a look at our West German Pottery Collectors group on Flickr to see some more examples from us and other members. If this post has inspired you to start your own collection, then happy hunting!

Vintage West German pottery & ceramics currently available at our H is for Home online shop

'Fat Lava' book by Mark Hill

  • Highly cool. Thanks for sharing. What an outstanding collection.

  • Great blog;
    Put a link on my blog to you, hope you do the same! http://www.socalpotters.com


  • Hi there,

    have a look at an outstandin' west-german pottery collection at the site of petra and patrick folkersma at http://www.ceramics-glass.info

    greetings, patrick

  • I have checked http://www.anseta.com website and I have found exactly the type of German vases I was looking for.

    Great article, great blog

  • If you want to know the real Scheurich decor names i now have a complete list…regards Kevin

  • Pip

    Yowsa Adelle (and Kevin too – what are you doing here?).

  • Annemieke

    Last year I saw an exhibition/art installation of West German pottery in museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
    Interview in English: http://www.nomad.it/interv_adam.html

    pictures (and words in Dutch): http://www.galeries.nl/mnkunstenaar.asp?artistnr=

  • Amy

    Just getting started on West German pottery. I currently live in Germany and I am picking up pieces for 2-4 euro. I am looking for a good site to help me ID my pieces.

  • Hi Amy,

    Check out the Fat Lava Forum at

    They're very friendly & knowledgeable!

    H is for Home

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  • oh my goodness….
    i am SOOOOOoooooooo jealous…
    these pieces are DIVINE!!!

  • Phyllis Lilley

    I have a jug very similar to these and would like some info about it. It stands 81/2" tall and has the marks Germany and 556/20 on the base it is Crimson cream and light grey, If you could tell me more about it I would be grateful

  • Phyllis Lilley

    I also have a large floor vase that bears the marks 517-50 and W Germany I know that this was bought by a relative in 1971 but have no othe info it is brown orange and red.I would like more info if possible and some idea of price its worth.

  • Hi Phyllis,

    There are two online forums where people are very knowledgeable and friendly:


    <a href="http://www.potteryandglass.forumandco.com” target=”_blank”>www.potteryandglass.forumandco.com

  • phyllis


  • Pat

    Impressive collection. I also have a collection of 12 floor vases and about 130 different smaller sizes. I have been collecting for about 8 years. These vases are exceptionally well made pieces of Art

  • Oh! I just love to watch this very wonderful and captivating designs. I love to collect things like this and make it a decor around my house. I'm thinking where I could possibly buy like these kind of designs.

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