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June 23, 2008

Nokomis vessels

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 2:55 pm

The July 2006 – April 2007 History Center exhibit “Red Wing Retro: Extraordinary Pottery, Everyday Life” provided an opportunity to feature a significant portion of the Society’s holdings documenting a Minnesota firm and products. Exhibits also enable museums to inform potential donors about strengths and gaps in a collection. As a result of this exhibition, nearly 50 pieces of Red Wing pottery were acquired for the collections between 2006 and 2008.

A recent and most generous gift from a long-time donor has greatly increased our holdings of early and rare Red Wing art pottery with 9 examples of the vessels in the Nokomis line.

The company best known today as the Red Wing Potteries, Inc., had its beginnings in Red Wing, Minnesota about 1878. While focused on utilitarian wares with a conscious eye toward affordable yet fashionable offerings, Red Wing Potteries were at the same time traditional and modern. In 1929 glazed art pottery became part of the Red Wing Potteries, Inc. product family, and examples from many lines continued to be available until 1967. The Potteries’ artware featured exhaustive quantities of abstract, stylized and iconic objects created either for contemplation or to function in various capacities throughout the home. The vases, planters, ashtrays, bowls, sculptures, commemoratives, promotionals, and other items in the artware line generally amounted to about 15% of the Potteries’ sales.

Produced circa 1926 -1929 and likely sold into the 1930s, Nokomis vessels were slip-cast in plaster molds. The glaze was described by the company as “a metallic finish in gray and tan with a tint of copper;” and collectors today agree that the 18 classic shapes decorated in this impressionistic hand-applied glaze were marketed ahead of their time. Nokomis vessels are found in matte, semi-matte, and glossy surface finishes. All the shapes in this donation (#195, 196, 198, 200, 201, 205, 207 & 212) appear in the “Price List-August, 1931 Red Wing Pottery Glazed Ware.”

Marcia Anderson, Senior Curator

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