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Wisconsin Historical Museum Online Collections

Candleholder by Pauline Pottery, Edgerton, WI, 1888-1909.
This candleholder, made by Pauline Pottery of Edgerton, WI, between 1888 and 1909, can be found in the online ceramic art collection.

About the Ceramic Art Tour

Content of the Tour

This tour features 175 pieces of ceramic art from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Included are examples of ornamental pottery, painted china, and small ceramic sculptures created by Wisconsin artists and potteries. This tour does not include items in the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society's historic sites.

The tour contains selected information about each object. The first thing you see is a thumbnail image and a brief description of each artifact. Clicking on the thumbnail results in a zoom image. Clicking on the brief description yields more information, including:

  • Catalog number - this is the identification number that the Wisconsin Historical Museum uses to track the object. Please refer to this number in any correspondence with Museum staff.
  • AAT object term - this is what the artifact is called according to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a vocabulary created by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Applicable object name and object genre terms are listed.
  • Materials/Medium - this is a listing of the materials of which the object is made, in terms used by the Art and Architecture Thesaurus.
  • Detailed description - this is a physical description of the object. Information about the condition is not accessible online at this time.
  • Object history - this is contextual information about the object, its maker, its owner(s), and/or the circumstances surrounding its creation and use. If such information is unknown, the object history does not appear.
  • Dates - these are dates associated with the object's history. Dates may refer to design, manufacture, modification, use, and/or subject.

If you would like more information regarding any of the objects, please contact the Curator of Domestic Life. The Historical Society cannot provide information regarding appraisal values and storage locations.

For more examples of Wisconsin ceramic art, visit the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database.

Organization of the Tour

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The tour consists of lists of object records created from searches of a master database. The searches represent one primary way to access the ceramic art collection by maker. For those who would like to just browse the collection, there is an "All Ceramic Art" section.

The makers represented are:

American Art Clay Works (Edgerton, WI: 1892-1895) founded by two Danish potters, Thorwald Samson and Louis Ipson, who had worked for Pauline Pottery; specialized in statuettes, busts, and wall plaques

Badger Craft Pottery (Madison, WI: 1920s-1930s) an operation whose history is not corroborated by supporting documentation

Century House (Madison, WI: 1948-1963) operated by a married team of potters, Priscilla Jane Scalbom Howell and Max Howell; specialized in plates, bowls, mugs, tea sets, lamp bases, and figurines; company continued to exist as a retailer of Scandinavian furniture

Ceramic Arts Studio (Madison, WI: 1940-1955) founded by Wisconsin potter Lawrence Rabbitt, who partnered with Reuben Sand; specialized in head vases, wall plaques, salt and pepper sets, and decorative figurines; many products designed by Madison-born Betty Harrington

Edgerton Art Clay Works (Edgerton, WI: 1895-1899) new name for American Art Clay Works

Glenn A. Minshall (Madison, WI: 1941) Kansas-born bookstore clerk who may have made pottery as an avocation; all works in the collection are bowls

Norse Pottery (Edgerton, WI: 1903-1904; Rockford, IL: 1904-1913) founded by Samson and Ipson from American/Edgerton Art Clay Works; specialized in reinterpretations of Scandinavian artifacts

Pauline Pottery (Chicago, IL: 1883-1888; Edgerton, WI: 1888-1894) founded by Pauline Jacobus; specialized in cups, ewers, jars, lamps, teapots, and vases; produced pottery for retailers Marshall Field and Tiffany; succeeded by Edgerton Pottery after bankruptcy

Susan S. Frackelton (Milwaukee, WI: 1881-1904; Chicago, IL 1904-1909) Milwaukee-born authority on china painting who also produced art pottery and became known for distinctive salt-glazed stoneware

For more information on Susan Frackelton, visit the Wisconsin Historical Society's online exhibit, Pottery by Frackelton.

For more information on most of these makers, visit the Wisconsin Pottery Association website.

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