More Raymor – Alvino Bagni

Two striped Vases by Bagni for Raymor
Two striped Vases by Bagni for Raymor

Alvino Bagni (1919-2000) is right up there with Aldo Londi (Head Designer at Bitossi) and Gambone as one of best Italian ceramic designers whose work was imported by Raymor.

Bagni was taken under the wing of Londi in the early part of his career. Bagni did work at Bitossi for a few years in Florence, Italy before opening his own studio in 1956 in Lastra a Signa, on the outskirts of Florence, called Bagni Ceramiche. His work is still commonly misidentified as “Londi” or Bitossi by many who see the Raymor tag.

Raymor tag for Bagni and markings on bottom of orange vase
Raymor tag for Bagni and markings on bottom of orange vase
Bagni White Wave type vase.
Bagni White Wave type vase.

However, if the vessel still has a Raymor tag on it, and if it is Bagni’s work, it will have “BAG” either typed or handwritten on the tag. Raymor generally used the first three letters of the artist/manufacturers name for their tag codes – with some exceptions. But since many paper sticker tags are lost over time, the most common seen “Bagni for Raymor” mark is a painted mark comprised of an ‘R’ for Raymor, followed by a three or four digit number, probably Raymor’s internal stock number. I have seen pieces of Bagni’s work signed “A. Bagni” but I have not come across his signature being applied on pieces for Raymor.

The vast majority of Bagni’s work was for the U.S. Market, and he even worked with Raymor competitor Rosenthal-Netter (just as Bitossi did).

Bagni did a stunning array of widely different designs for Raymor, and because of that it can be hard to pinpoint his work since it can vary so greatly. Early pieces sometimes have a floral theme, pieces of the early 1950’s show the influence of Aldo Londi, then you have some very individualistic styles and forms that really represent the best of Bagni’s work, with stripes, geometric patterns and bold lava type glazes as some of the more common themes. Some of his more modernist, geometric pieces have been mis-attributed as Ettore Sottsass’ work.

An easy way to date Bagni’s work is the type of clay used, red clay was used from the late 1940s-1950s before a finer white clay came into use in the 1960’s.

Sea Garden Glaze
Sea Garden Glaze
Vessel by Alvino Bagni for Raymor, showing the influence of Londi.
Vessel by Alvino Bagni for Raymor, showing the influence of Londi.

There are two hallmarks I’ve noticed of Bagni’s work, first he was very experimental with his glazes coming up with some really radical combinations and colors schemes. The “sea garden” glaze, which is an unusual mix of turquoise, blue, green, yellow, browns and blacks, is an excellent example of his experimentation. I’ve also noticed metal inclusions in Bagni’s work, which I have not seen used in any other of Raymor’s ceramic artists. Bagni like to include metal rings or other small metal pieces, like the horns in his magnificent Sea Garden bull, with his ceramic designs. Bagni was also fond of “wax resist” techinque

Outside of Raymor importing his work, Bagni also sold his work from his studio in Lastra Signa. The Studio Potter Archive (SPA) has a marvelous example of some of his tile work, and his illustrative style of painting, here.

Bagni did a series of design lines for Raymor, outside of sea garden, incorporating color motifs for specified shapes. My favorite examples are the striped vases at the top of the post. Many times these are referred to as “gulfstream” vases because they resemble the work of Fong Chow’s Gulfstream designs for Glidden pottery. (See example here.) In fact, I’ve seen Bagni’s vases attributed to Fong Chow, so unless it’s marked “Glidden” I don’t think its safe to assume it is Chow’s work unless you are intimately familiar with his work.

Bagni Wheel Thrown Vase for Raymor
Bagni Wheel Thrown Vase for Raymor

Bagni also did very individualistic, studio work for Raymor. This might be why you can find quite high prices for Bagni’s work – in the 1960’s. Some of the highest prices of the period that I have seen noted on Raymor pottery comes from Bagni. While some of Raymor’s Bitossi imports cost $12 or $8, on Bagni’s studio pieces I’ve seen prices of $18 and $29 – which was quite a bit of money in the 1960s. (Given inflation $18 dollars in 1961 is equivalent to approximately $125 today.)

Even after the end of the Raymor era, which declined and disappeared in the 1980’s, Bagni was still designing and creating work for the American market. I’ve seen examples of pieces he did for Anthropologie in the 1980’s among others, signed with his name on the bottom. His studio closed in 1992 and Bagni died eight years later.

VARIOUS BAGNI TAGS AND MARKS

Mark on Bagni Vase
Mark on Bagni Vase
"Italy" Incised stamp on Sea Garden Vase
“Italy” Incised stamp on Sea Garden Vase
Bagni Raymor tag on studio piece, note $19.50 price
Bagni Raymor tag on studio piece, note $19.50 price
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11 Comments

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  1. To keep yourself looking sharp, please make a correction: Studio Potter Archive (SPA), is an archive whom also has the generic term “studio potter” in our title. We love “The Studio Potter”, but we’re not magazine people who put out a bi-annual publication, we’re an archive of approx 4000+ pieces of prime studio pots, whose goal is to pay homage to the studio potter all day, all of the year! Thanks!

  2. As the author of the first and only books written in English on the subject of Italian pottery identification I would like to clarify a few “facts” concerning Alvino Bagni. Bagni never worked worked for Bitossi nor did he ever work with Aldo Londi. Alvino, son of Bagno and Tecla Galli-Bagni, was born in December, 1919 in the municipality of Lastra a Signa, about 7 miles west of Florence. He lived and work there all his life. Both Alvino and his older brother, Lido, received formal training in art at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. Alvino’s greatest personal teacher and life-long inspiration was sculptor Torello Santini, After graduating Belle Arti Alvino was apprenticed to the former Ginori model-maker and decorator Arnoldo Pugi who had opened his own studio in Lastra a Signa.
    In 1946 Alvino married Gina Tarchi and opened his own studio in Lastra. His big break came in 1952 when he received an order to create 3,500 presidential campaign plates with the inscription “I Like Ike”. Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican nomination and became the 34th President of the United States.
    In the late 1950’s Bagni began catching the attention of importers such as Raymor, Rosenthal-Netter and others. In 1962 Bagni created a new studio, factory and research center. He brought to his new endeavor the talents and creativity of such artists as Remo Buti, Enzo Borgini and Michelangelo Santonocito. By the 1970’s Bagni was employing more than 110 artists, technicians and crafts people. It was during this period that Bagni was experimenting with new clays, new techniques and new glazes. It was in 1974 that he created his famous “Sea Garden” glaze.
    In 1992, faced with stiff competition from emerging Third World countries Bagni was forced to close his doors. Two years later, at the age of 74, Bagni opened his new studio, Nuoveforme. The company, now lead by his grandson is still active today and remains loyal to Bagni’s concept of artistic virtue and creativity.

    Walter Del Pellegrino, author of “Italian Pottery Marks from Cantagalli to Fornasetti” and other Italian pottery guides

    • Hi Walter:

      Thank you very much for the additional information, finding biographical information on Bagni is not easy. I will add your post to my post on Bagni in the next day or two but I would first like to clarify one statement you made.

      You stated Bagni never worked for Bitossi or with Londi but according to the Archivio della Ceramica Italiana del ‘900, Alvino Bagni worked with Bitossi until the end of the 1950s when he opened his own studio.

      I have been confused by these dates in regards to Bagni since a lot of people reference Bagni studio pieces from the late 1940’s so I wasn’t sure if people were mixing up 1940/ 1950s or what was the correct information.

      I greatly appreciate you taking the time to post and thank you for sharing your expertise. Compared to most of the research I do on mid century designs, Italian pottery has been among the most difficult to find real facts and period references on. The terrible telephone method of repeating bad information from online listings until it is considered almost fact makes the task even harder and more aggravating.

    • Hello Mr Pellegrino,I am looking for some information about a service of SIMAC, Modello Di Koch by Filiberto De Angelis. I was wondering if you perhaps could get in touch with me so I can send you some pictures? I would really appreciate a reply, especially as it is very difficult to find information about it. Thank you!

      • Società Industriale Maioliche Abruzzesi Castelli, better known as SIMAC, was created in 1920 by physician Giovanni Fuschi. The factory was located in Abruzzi, Castelli, a commune in the province of Teramo. Dr. Fuschi sold the company in 1938 and the name was changed to SPICA . The factory was then converted to the manufacture spark plugs with porcelain bodies.

        Your Tea Service is interesting and rather unique. While SIMAC produced traditional earthenware pottery decorated with equally traditional Abruzzi landscapes, this serving set is porcelain. Rarely does one factory attempt to create both earthenware and porcelain products at the same time in the same location. The two requires different type clays, different process, different skilled artisans and even different kilns. SIMAC experimented with the idea in the mid 1920’s but quickly gave up the experiment. Your set is one of those very early attempts and that makes it somewhat special. Most wares are simply marked with the company logo and country of origin but your example is unique as noted by the fact that bottom of the teapot reveals both the designer and the decorator.
        The modeler named on the teapot is Koch and this is a reference to Maurice Koch, a Hungarian who graduated the University of Budapest with a degree in Chemical Engineering. In the 1920’s, while living in Padua, he contributed his knowledge and talents to SIMAC and created new clay mixtures and glazes and even designs.
        The decorator was Filiberto De Angelis. He remained with SIMAC until 1938 and continued on with company as it transitioned to SPICA.

  3. The essential information comes directly from the grandson of Alvino Bagni who wrote the introductions to the two websites below. In both biographies there is no mention of Bagni having worked for Bitossi. Bagni opened his own studio in 1946 and therefore the probability of his employment at Bitossi n the 1950’s is highly unlikely. None of my other sources make mention of a Bitossi/Bagni connection except for the one you have named.

    http://met.provincia.fi.it/news.aspx?n=56607

    http://www.nuoveformefirenze.it/1.html

  4. I have a raymor piece I was hoping you could identify for me. How do I get a hold of you?

  5. I have something that may be by Bagni. Is there a way I could send you an image to see what you think?
    Thanks

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