Century House was the name of a Madison, Wisconsin tavern building, originally erected in 1836. In October of 1948, Priscilla Jane Scalbom purchased the building for $6,000.
A Madison high school art teacher who had been educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, Scalbom began a pottery production and retail operation which she called Century House, after the building. In 1949, Scalbom married Max Howell, another potter, who had learned the craft in California. Continue reading “Century House Pottery”
The Camden Art Tile and Pottery Company was founded in the fall of 1926 in Camden, Arkansas, by Samuel “Jack” Carnes, John Lessell, Stephen Sebaugh and the Camden Chamber of Commerce. Factory production began in the summer of 1927.
Since 1999, through our research, annual shows and presentations at our monthly meetings, the Wisconsin Pottery Association has gathered information and examples related to many pottery companies.
We share this information for the benefit of our members and other pottery collectors and enthusiasts.
Here is an alphabetical listing of potteries that are (or will be) featured on this site.
Note: We are actively in the process of reorganizing and updating our website content. Information, galleries, and details of past shows and presentations will appear again soon. Please revisit! Thank you for your patience.
The content below is a report on the Clewell Pottery presentation made by member Betsy Knutzen in February 2000.
Clewell is one of those potteries for which there is very little printed information. Betty went back through old journals seeking data for her talk. The following is a bit of what she learned and presented to the WPA. Continue reading “Clewell Pottery”
The Weller Pottery was the first mass producer of art pottery. Samuel Weller was known for hiring great artists, and for his innovations. However, he also produced many so-called “mutant” pots – strange glazes and odd glazes for a given pot type.
At the March 2001 WPA meeting Chris Swart gave a wonderful presentation on Weller Art Pottery. Chris also organized our 2001 Show and Sale Exhibit on Weller and Company. Continue reading “Weller Pottery”
On September 12, 2000 WPA members met for our September meeting. Here is a brief synopsis of what Mr. William Engel presented on this much collected stoneware.
Old Sleepy Eye was a Native American Indian chief — Sleepy Eye is also the name of a town in southwestern Minnesota (located on US Highway 14). Old Chief Sleepy Eye was affectionately chosen as the mascot for a flour milling company in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. The Sleepy Eye stoneware was designed and decorated with Old Chief Sleepy Eye’s likeness and used as a promotion for selling flour; the pieces of pottery were given away with 50lb. barrels of flour. However, the government intervened in the give-aways, perhaps because the rather heavy pottery pieces had a negative affect on the amount of flour that was contained in those 50lb. barrels. The stoneware pieces were later sold, printed with advertising, to grocery stores and such.
Western Stoneware of Monmouth, Il originally produced the Sleepy Eye stoneware. Monmouth Pottery later bought the Western Stoneware plant, which at one time had the largest contract for pottery ever signed in the United States. Redwing pottery eventually surpassed this Sleepy Eye contract.
The Sleepy Eye Stoneware pieces included butter-crocks and steins, which were made around 1890. William Engel described some of the pieces as “Flemishware” — some of these pieces were marked as such on the bottoms. The Flemish-styled pieces were white with blue heads of Chief Sleepy Eye. Some pieces also had blue borders or trim around rims. Certain pieces also had an Indian chief’s head done in relief on the handle. In addition to the blue and white pieces, designs included white with brown decoration.
Some Sleepy Eye pieces were made by the Weir Pottery — these pieces are probably the most valuable today. The Weir pieces are marked “Weir” inside of a circle on the bottom.
Mr. Engel discussed how to spot reproductions of Sleepy Eye pieces — many have a hole or indentation on the inside where the handle is attached, say for a stein. Sometimes the holes have been filled in, but a black light will reveal these “repaired” pieces.
It was interesting to learn that Sleepy Eye collectors fancy stoneware and pottery from a variety of manufacturers, referring to it all as Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye shows and swapmeets contain a variety of pottery makes. Mr. Engel mentioned that there are two Brush-McCoy pieces that have Indian heads on the handles (and that these pots are included as Sleepy Eye pieces). Some believe that this was due to a Monmouth designer that also did work for Brush-McCoy.
We were shown several pieces of stoneware or pottery with the “ugly Indian” design. These pieces featured a less attractive Indian and were made sometime in the 1930s. We also saw an Indian head pitcher, white in color with a blue glazed design and a maple leaf on the bottom. These pieces had the “sucked in” handle marks on the inside. Monmouth has been known to make pieces with maple leaves on them. In addition, Whitehall pottery is known for unglazed bottoms, which these pieces had. Mr. Engel also showed sugar bowls — some white with blue and also burgundy pieces.
Redwing did two mugs for Sleepy Eye. For these pieces, the Indian head was accompanied by a saying.
Some of the examples of Sleepy Eye stoneware that Mr. Engel showed the club included a couple of mugs that featured Chief Redwing (who came before Sleepy Eye) — these mugs were signed by the artist. In addition, we saw a series of 9” vases with a dragonfly and cattails done in relief. This vase was done in approximately seven different glazes, including a black design on white, and an all black vase. These pieces were created by Monmouth, but once again, are included as Sleepy Eye stoneware.
Many thanks to William Engel for his excellent presentation on Sleepy Eye Stoneware!
by Wahpeton Pottery Company
Wahpeton, North Dakota
Linda and Bill Bakken visited the Wisconsin Pottery Association in March 2003 and gave a delightful presentation on Rosemeade Pottery.
North Dakota’s Rosemeade Pottery, well-connected to the University of North Dakota’s ceramics department, was a relatively large company in its day, with as many as 27 employees . Rosemeade is said to have turned out 1,400 pieces a day at its peak.
The company grew out of the Wahpeton Pottery Company, Wahpeton, N.D., under the direction of ND native Laura Taylor, who founded the pottery in 1940 with her husband-to-be, Robert J. Hughes.
Laura Taylor was a student and assistant, in the late 1930s, at the University of North Dakota (UND) where famed ceramist (and Minnesota native) Margaret Cable taught from 1910–49. Taylor also studied with the well-known studio potter Glen Lukens at the State University Teachers College in Valley City, North Dakota, and was a supervisor for the Federal Clay project of the Works Progress Administration from 1936–39.
She was chosen by the WPA to demonstrate throwing pottery at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. As Dr. Marion J. Nelson notes in his book “Art Pottery of the Midwest”, Taylor was apparently adept at throwing pottery, but Rosemeade’s only thrown pieces were small flower vases along with a few swirled pieces.
The Bakkens told of a 1951 article in National Geographic that featured North Dakota and included Laura Taylor Hughes, perhaps in part because she was known to use animal photos from that magazine as models for her pieces.
Marion Nelson determined that Rosemeade had some qualities unusual to figurines, that earned it the label of American art pottery. The colors of the pieces appear to have been applied with metal oxides under the glaze, a technique seldom found in figurines. The colors partially combined with the glaze and ran slightly during firing, creating a true ceramic effect. In addition, the buff color of the clay shows through, making the colors blend nicely.
Rosemeade pottery is often identified by the Rosemeade sticker or label, although Linda and Bill report sometimes finding these stickers on non-Rosemeade pieces. As well, some pieces did not get labels. The pieces are also sometimes marked on the bottom, with stamps done in dark blue or black ink. There are a few embossed marks a well. The clay for Rosemeade Pottery is often a sandy, beige color (N.D. clay) but some pieces are done in red clay too, “imported” from Kentucky. The swirl pieces have glaze on the inside, which is clear, blue or brown. A bottom stamp is the best way to identify these pieces.
The “tail-up” pheasant is the most common, best-known piece. The Bakkens received this pheasant piece as a wedding gift, although Linda admits that it stayed in the cupboard for their first 15 years of wedded bliss, because they thought it was so tacky. Now, as devoted Rosemeade collectors, she suggests that perhaps the moral is that Rosemeade pottery grows on you.
The animal figurines made by Rosemeade run the gamut: pheasants, horses, ducks, quail, chickens, bluebirds, robins, songbirds with perching stance. There were also fish figurines and cats done in unusual positions. The state flower of ND, the prairie rose, was used to decorate pin dishes, salt and peppers and spoon rests. Tulips decorate cream and sugars, salt and peppers, etc. Anne K, a friend of Laura T. Hughes, did some decorating—some of the pieces were marked Wahpeton, ND—she painted shoes and a few hearts, using a mark of “AK”.
Rosemeade Pottery was sold throughout the U.S., although concentrated in the upper midwest. Laura Taylor Hughes died in 1959 and the Rosemeade plant closed in 1961. According to the Bakkens, prices of Rosemeade have decreased in the past four years, although prices have stabilized recently.
Rosemeade collections available for viewing include: Wahpeton at the Richland County Museum and, soon to open, a collection at Bonanzaville, west of Fargo, ND.
North Dakota History: Journal of the Northern Plains has been published since 1926, and has published many articles on the pottery of North Dakota. Back issues are available and the articles are listed.
By the Way…..
Rosemeade was a very popular name for china patterns. It was used by Harker, Mikasa and Wedgwood,
Artist Fritz Scholder’s mother, Ella Mae Scholder worked for Rosemeade Pottery for several years according to North Dakota State Alumni Foundation. His father was Administrator of Indian Schools and for a time stayed at the Wahpeton Indian School. His Wisconsin connection was that he went to school in Ashland & Superior. A very interesting oral history is available at the Smithsonian Archive of American Art. As a child, he would paint envelopes and send them to famous people all over the world to sign with the postage from that country and have them sent back because he was a collector of stamps & postal covers. He recalled how he sent an envelope to Albert Einstein with his formula painted on it and he got it back signed and dated (due to the postmark).