In Search of C. A. Selzer’s Messina

By Ken Gallagher

As the past Webmaster of FlowBlue.Org I received many inquiries asking about Flow Blue China, pattern identification, value, where to sell, where to buy, etc. but an inquiry really piqued my curiosity.  A young lady sent me a photo of a Flow Blue plate, that with a little research, I determined was Messina by Cauldon.  But, this plate had two anomalies’ First there are distinct (raised) leaves and acorns around the periphery of the plate (that are not part of the Messina pattern) and each of the embossed leaf/acorn decorations is covered with heavy gold making the plate/pattern very distinct.  (Cauldon made two versions of the plate, a ‘smooth’ version without the embossed leaves and acorns and an embossed version with the leaves and acorns.)   And secondly, there is a name: ‘C. A. Selzer, Euclid Ave., Cleveland’ stamped within the potters mark.  Thus the question:  Was the pottery a special order for the Selzer family or something else?

Before we begin our search for C. A. Selzer, let’s spend a minute looking at the potter, Cauldon (Brown-Westhead Moore& Co.) Ltd. (Cauldon for short).  An internet search provided the following:

Brown-Westhead Moore & Co. Ltd. Cauldon Works, Stoke-on-Trent

  • c.1773 the Cauldon Works which later became Messrs. T. C. Brown-West-head, Moore and Co., were founded by the famous potter, Mr. Job Ridgway.
  • At the death of Job Ridgway in 1814 the business passed into the hands of his two sons, John and William, and, on the retirement of William, the concern was carried on for many years under the sole management of Mr. John Ridgway.
  • In 1862 Mr. Brown-Westhead and Mr. W. Moore became associated with the firm, and from then to the 1890’s the business increased six-fold.
  • In 1905 the business was renamed Cauldon Ltd.
  • In 1920 the business moved to the Crescent Pottery in Stoke and was renamed Cauldon Potteries Ltd.
  • In 1962 the firm was divided when the porcelain side was continued by E.W. Brain & Co. Ltd., (now Coalport, which in turn is part of the Wedgwood group). The business of Cauldon Potteries Ltd. was acquired by Pountney & Co. Ltd. of Bristol during the later part of 1962. The business of Pountney failed in 1977.



The search for C. A. Selzer continued, again turning to the internet I found the following references to C. A. Selzer of Cleveland, Ohio:

From the book: CLEVELAND THE MAKING OF A CITY, by William Ganson Rose.

1881:  ‘Young C. A. Selzer opened a business this year, on lower Euclid Avenue, that was the show place of Cleveland.  It was stocked with imported china and glass, silver, furniture, furnishings, and decorative art that made it a veritable museum of the Old World.  A great attraction was a white crane in the playing fountain where the lower level of the store began.  Selzer later moved his famous galleries to the Hickox Building, then to the Bulkley Building, and they were eventually taken over by the George Bowman Company.’.

From the WorthPoint Web Site:

‘Auctioning a set of six porcelain Plates Trim Designed in Exquisite Gold Gilt Pattern on White Porcelain.

Please take a moment to view a spectacular set of luxury, fine bone china dinner plates. Crafted in the early years of the 20th century they are pristine remnants produced by one of the “Stoke on the Trent” renowned English porcelain manufacturing companies, Cauldon Ltd.

“This set represents one era’s desire for luxury, glitz, and glamour tastefully delivered in refined elegance. The blending of opposite styles was a difficult task. Cauldon Ltd. met that challenge with artfully crafted porcelains and hand painted designs. The artists works lent a rich, luscious flavor tempered by gracious charm. This Staffordshire pottery secured its place among the most successful of England’s porcelain manufacturers during the years now referred to as the “Gilded Age”.

“This sudden change in American society might have been a backlash from the Victorian Era. A new generation intrigued by the flamboyant styles enjoyed by European consumers triggered a boom in the export business from abroad. The US was ordering all types of goods faster than they could be produced.

“England’s exports included this pattern from Cauldon Ltd. expressly provided for C. A. Selzer of Cleveland OH. Selzers was a high-end specialty boutique which accommodated the tastes of Cleveland’s upper echelon.’.

And finally, from the book:  Leading manufacturers and merchants of the City of Cleveland and Environs.  A Half Century’s Progress.  1836 – 1886, by International Publishing Company

‘C. A. Selzer, Fine Gas Fixtures, Artistic Potteries, Bronzes, and Bric-a-brac, etc, No.18 Euclid Avenue.-This elegant repository of art, the finest of its special character in Cleveland, was founded in 1877 by C. A. Selzer.  The magnificent stock carried embraces a wide list of valuable productions, comprehending artistic goods in some of their most exquisite forms, and presenting the greatest diversity in design and execution.  The display of potteries, glass, china, modern, and antique ware, brasses and bronzes, statuary, fine glass fixtures, Bric-a-brac, and novelties of every description is beautiful and complete.  Mr. Selzer imports freely from the leading foreign dealers and manufacturers, with whom he has established business relations of the most advantageous kind.  The best productions of America are kept in abundant supply, and the means are here offered for the gratification of every desire and fancy.  The facilities and resources of the house are such that every favorable opportunity of the markets is commanded.  The trade is very heavy.  The inspection of the many treasures exhibited is earnestly requested, the proprietor taking just pride in every article handled, and desiring that the benefit should inure to all as far as he can contribute to such a consummation.  The sales rooms are located at No. 18 Euclid avenue, admirably furnished and arranged, and a credit to the enterprise and liberality of their direction.  Mr. Selzer was born in Cleveland, and understands the wants of the population.  No detail of excellence has been omitted in the conduct of the affairs of his house.’.

From my internet searches I believe we can ascertain the following:

  • C. A. Selzer owned a European import store located at 18 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, which he opened in the 1877 time frame.
  • C. A. Selzer had contracts with European manufacturers, including Cauldon Pottery, to produce wares for his Cleveland store.
  • Wares produced for his store were ‘custom marked’ with his name and store location as further evidenced by the following found on an eBay auction:
  • The Messina Flow Blue with the ‘C.A. Selzer, Euclid Ave, Cleveland’ was from customized orders for C.A. Selzer’s business located in Cleveland.
  • The only examples of ‘Selzer’s Cauldon Flow Blue’ are the embossed pottery (with leaves and acorns), not the smooth pottery, (without the leaves and acorns).
  • C. A. Selzer’s Flow Blue pottery is distinguished by gold trim embellishment on the leaves and acorns around the periphery of the pottery and his name and store location included within the potter’s mark.

And with this research we can close the Flow Blue mystery of the ‘gold adorned’ Cauldon Messina pottery’ marked with the name ‘C.A. Selzer, Euclid Ave., Cleveland’.   I wonder how many other ‘Flow Blue mysteries’ lie waiting to be discovered?