If the Leach family is the founding family of British studio pottery, then to me, Zaalberg can proudly claim that spot in the history and development of Dutch ceramics.
For many years Zaalberg has played a central role, producing dazzling items in the 1950s that came to define the period. For more information look on https://www.curatedceramics.
A short history
In 1918 Herman Zaalberg (1880-1958) rented a small workshop on the Hoge Rijndijk, now Leiderdorp.
The pottery, founded by Zaalberg, was named Earthenware De Rijn. Soon the workshop was far too small and the oven too old, so the company moved to Jaagpad 22 in 1922.
The eldest son, Meindert, had been working in his father's company since 1919. He was only 12 years old when he began and went to school in the evenings. Meindert's son, Herman, was 14 years old when he started working in the company in 1949 – so this is a family that is totally immersed in the pottery trade.
Zaalberg turned his company into a public limited company in 1925: Aardewerk de Rijn / v / h H. Zaalberg. The company, despite setbacks, has been in continuous production ever since. Three times fires have broken out at the factory – most significantly in 1929. This fire left nothing but ash but the production was able to continue with the help of Sibbes, who among others, baked Zaalberg’s turned objects that arrived by rowing boat each day.
The first hand-turned crockery went on display in 1937 during an exhibition in the Jaarbeurs, Utrecht. A gold medal followed for the collection that was shown at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. In 1939 the company was honoured and invited to submit a large collection for the World Fair in New York.
In 1942 tragedy struck once again, when another fire caused extensive damage. But the pottery was quickly rebuilt by early 1943. The new name was Potterij Zaalberg Leiderdorp. In 1948 peat laid to dry on the hot oven caught fire, causing damage. Zaalberg continued to create despite this.
The style of the pottery has changed over the years from the Jugendstil style of father Herman to the simple shapes and glazes of Japanese and early Chinese ceramics that are now synonymous with his son. The old building was sold in 1981 and a new bell kiln was installed which optimised production. The pottery still exists today and is located at Hoge Rijndijk 12 in Zoeterwoude.
The work of the Zaalberg family can be found in museums, private collections and appears at specialist auctions. Curated Ceramics has some beauties in their collection from this prestigious pottery dynasty for you to own and cherish.
Ricardo van Ede