Red Wing Pottery
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RED WING POTTERY
Red Wing Pottery has a rich place in Minnesota history. The first known potter in the area came to Red Wing in 1861 and settled on what later became the Red Wing clay pits. John Paul, a German potter, produced pottery from his wheel for 10 years. In 1871, he moved to Shakopee and became a brick mason. Red Wing Terra Cotta Works, under Wm. M. Philleo began producing pottery and architectural terra cotta during the 1860's. Red Wing Stoneware Company sprung up in 1877 and quickly earned a name for producing quality stoneware. Later, Minnesota Stoneware Company appeared on the scene in Red Wing in 1883 and in 1892 North Star Stoneware Company began. Each of these companies were built using the latest technology and were soon able to mass produce the stoneware. However, the 1890's brought a severe economic down swing and left each of the three companies having to periodically shut down and cut down. In 1894, Union Stoneware Company was born as the sales outlet for all three companies. Northstar Stoneware Company, being the newest and least known, could not compete and ended up shutting its doors in 1896. By 1900, prosperity had returned and by 1906 Red Wing Stoneware, Minnesota Stoneware, and Union Stoneware Company merged to become the Red Wing Union Stoneware Company.
The processes for making the pottery changed as the industrial revolution provided more and more opportunities for mechinization. Hand turning was totally abandoned by 1917 and all but jug handles were molded or pressed by machine. Red Wing Stoneware became the leading producer of stoneware in the world. However, the industry would change in the next few decades for several reasons. First, the rich clay fields needed for the stoneware were limited, and secondly, with the development of refrigeration and plastic food containers, the need for stoneware would diminish and disappear. The company positioned itself to make way for these changes; kitchenware and art pottery began to be produced which could be made from other clay. By 1936, the focus was more on the art pottery and the beginnings of producing dinnerware; thus the name changed to Red Wing Potteries Inc. By the end of WWII, the stoneware industry had died. Red Wing Potteries then began designing many more dinnerware patterns and various lines of art pottery.
These products became very popular and the company flourished. However, by the 1960's, foreign competition and changing tastes were creating a down turn in the Red Wing pottery business. In 1967, after a brief workers' strike, the company closed its doors forever.
Since that time, Red Wing Pottery has become very collectible for its beauty, quality, and design. We have stoneware collectors, art pottery collectors, and dinnerware collectors and some who collect all three areas of Red Wing Pottery. People set their tables with the dinnerware and the art pottery vases as well as adorn their walls and china cupboards with these treasures. People have special shelves and rooms to house their stoneware collections. Others use the crocks and jugs to make a coffee table or decoration as well as make saurekraut, wine, pickles, etc. in the crocks. Some people are fascinated with a certain aspect of the stoneware; they collect only bottom stamped pieces, side stamped, large wing, birch leaf, ski ovals, elephant ears, pieces that have a mistake, pieces with turkey droppings, etc. In the art pottery and dinnerware lines, sometimes they collect a certain designer such as Eva Zibel, Charles Murphy, or Belle Kogan. Or they collect a certain line such as the magnolia art pottery, or the stoneware vases. Or maybe collectors concentrate on a certain item such as salt and peppers from each dinnerware pattern or the teapots or dinner plates. Whatever the collectors seek, it is with a passion of the hunt.
Here are just a few of the thousands of pieces that are in our shop at present.
We have crocks, crocks, and more crocks. At any one time we
probably have 100 + crocks between all of the dealers.
We also have a wide range of Red Wing churns, butter crocks, water coolers, lids, sponge ware, blue band, sponge band etc. pieces.
These items in this case are a combination of North Star Pottery, advertising pieces (not all Red Wing) and some local advertising-postcards, plates, etc.
Below you see an example of a beautiful salt glaze 12 gal crock with an elaborate butteryfly design all hand dripped. These gorgeous salt glaze pieces are rare and hard to come by.