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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ben Seibel and the Haeger "S Series"

In the world inhabited by serious collectors of china and other ceramics, an unsolved mystery frequently raises a debate. Did Ben Seibel design the "S Series" for Haeger or not?

We recently picked up this beautiful blue 16" Royal Haeger pitcher at auction which was attributed to Ben Seibel. As I always do, I began to research the piece.

Royal Haeger flower pitcher

I located a forum discussion about the same Royal Haeger flower pitcher in a shiny black glaze.

Some of the forum participants were convinced that this is a Seibel design, while others needed more proof. A couple thought the pitcher was reminiscent of Seibel's Forum International pitcher:

Forum International

However, I think it is even more similar to the design of the pitcher in the Impromptu series that Seibel did for Iroquois.

Iroquois Impromptu Pyramids

For now, the jury is out until someone finds an old ad or some archived piece of Haeger history. What do you think?

Pronunciation Guide


  1. Hmmmm . . . I'm never good at this type of thing. All I can say is the piece you bought is soooo purdy. Great colour & lovely texture - you have such a good eye for finding beautiful and timeless pieces. Can't wait to visit your shop . . .

  2. Isn't Haeger still in business? Can't someone just ask them? I thought all the "Royal" Haeger was designed by one designer, although that is because of hearsay from a seller at an estate sale who said they had a relative who worked for Haeger.

    Any old way, I love Royal Haeger and have lots of it.

  3. I emailed Haeger and was told they don't keep any archives, and they referred me to collectors' groups...and that's where the debate is taking place. Seibel's biography says he designed for Haeger, but apparently no one is sure exactly what.

  4. Don't keep any archives?? How odd. . .

    If I owned a company with "history", that would be an important part of what I did.

    The blue pitcher is lovely, and I'm not schooled on ceramics or glassware (or a lot of other things like name-brand vintage furniture) to be of any help!

  5. @1950sarh: I thought that was very odd too, but maybe that's the party line they give to people they've never heard of...or maybe I got a secretary having a bad day. Michael Pratt of MODish said in the thread I linked to my post that he would contact Haeger if none of the well-known Seibelophiles had any information, and he's probably got the "juice" to get an answer if there's one to be found.

  6. Someone needs to start a History Channel show that is about identifying designers in vintage and antique pieces. Like History Detectives, but with collectibles. I would totally watch that... They could have a segment about fakes and knock-offs, too.
    I'm not an expert either, but I can definitely see similarities in the styles. They are all gorgeous. I think the Iroquois is my favorite.

  7. Dana you're so good about research. I try but I'm very impatient if I can't find what I'm looking for right away. They certainly look similar to the Impromptu series don't they. Your pitcher is gorgeous. I love it!

  8. @adriane: That's a great idea for a TV show. My daughter is going to contact a friend of hers in Michigan who's in television and suggest to him that he pitch a show like that. I'd definitely watch a show like that.

  9. @Rhan: I really love the research part of it. (I'm sure my SIL would agree that I like it much more than the refinishing and heavy lifting.) I can sit for hours trying to find a picture of something we just bought...but being retired and not having kids or a husband under foot make that more possible for me than for a lot of people, I'm sure.

  10. Royal Hickman is the designer of Royal Haeger pieces. Many designers took 'inspiration' from other designers, making it difficult to id certain pieces.

    1. Thanks for that information. I hadn't heard Hickman's name before.

  11. The Royal Haeger line was named for Royal Arden Hickman who left California and remained at Haeger as Art Director from 1938 to 1944. When he left, Haeger changed their in-mold mark from "Royal Haeger by Royal Hickman" to just "Royal Haeger". Haeger hired other talented designers including Ben Seibel and Sascha Brastoff, but I don't have the dates for each designer's tenure. I've posed the question to a collectors' group and am awaiting a reply.

    Just noticed the date of previous comments, so this page may no longer be operating. Oops.