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What’s in the attic? With any luck, Red Wing Pottery |

What’s in the attic? With any luck, Red Wing Pottery

The skilled German craftsmen who settled in Redwing, Minnesota in the mid-1800s were quick to realize the good fortune into which they had stumbled.

With large native clay deposits and easy access to transport by railroad and river barge, Redwing was the perfect location for pottery manufacturing. In 1887, after more than a decade of producing quality pottery for local use, they took their endeavors national with the opening of the Red Wing Stoneware Company.


Their first wares consisted of everyday salt-glazed pieces such as jugs, bowls, spittoons, flower pits, cemetery vases, and umbrella stands. Characterized by a tan or gray body, the surface of these early pieces will feel pocked, like the skin of an orange, and will be decorated with a hand-drawn bird or flower in cobalt blue. By the nature of their design, many of the early pieces saw rough wear that left them damaged. The ones that survived unscathed are highly prized by collectors.

With the introduction of refrigeration to mainstream America, many of their storage pieces became obsolete. Always abreast of a changing market, Red Wing turned their efforts to art pottery. Sales soared, and by the early 1900s they had established themselves as the largest producer of pottery in the United States.

But growth came at a cost. The craftsman’s way of production, where a skilled potter saw the piece through the entire production process, was abandoned. The potters now worked in assembly lines using machines and molds to produce their pottery. Gone were the salt-glazes that had become obsolete, and in their place came a more uniform Bristol glaze. With the industrialization of Red Wing pottery there also came a new look. From this era forward each piece was stamped with the “red wings” on the sides.

Smooth glazes were introduced in 1929 with one glaze on the inside and a different glaze on the outside.

Some other notable glazes to watch for include Nakomis, Scarlet, and Crackle Turquoise with a bronze lining.

In keeping with public demand, dinnerware was added in 1935. The patterns were bright and of solid colors, as was the preference of the day. For a short time Red Wing also produced dinnerware for the Bauer Company after their factory burnt. This is why there are pieces of Bauer and Red Wing that are almost identical.

In 1936, the name was changed to Red Wing Potteries, Inc. and lamps, cookie jars and figurines were added to the inventory. George RumRill’s “Athenian Nudes” from this era are popular with collectors.

Also watch for the Magnolia and Pompeiian lines from the 1940s, the Tropica and Charles Murphy’s footed bowls from the 1950s, and Prismatique from the 1960s.

In 1968 the factory was revamped once again and all existing inventory was liquidated. In 1970 the name of the company was changed to Red Wing Pottery Sales, Inc. It is important to note that during the liquidation years, from 1968 to 1970, the company operated under the name “Remnicha,” a Native American word which means “red wing.”

While collectors highly value the early pieces of Red Wing, they have little to no interest in pieces post-1967. The rights to the molds from the original Red Wing factory have been reused by a number of companies, as has the Red Wing name. Many of the salt-glaze pieces produced by “Red Wing Potteries Inc.” are made with old-time methods, but they will obviously be new in their appearance.

Until next time,

Linda

Irvington resident and Greensburg native Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/WhatsInTheAttic.

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