Wisconsin Pottery Association
P.O. Box 705
Madison WI

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Early Wisconsin Stoneware & Earthenware

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Above is an hand-thrown earthenware bowl made in Sheboygan.  As you can see, the bowl melted irregular in the kiln.  This was due to the poor clay found in Wisconsin.  Earthenware was produced from the local clays.  Earthenware is porous verses stoneware which is vitreous.  Stoneware is made from clay brought in from other states & mixed with sand.  Local potters would add local clays to stretch their supply of clay.  The piece above has a lead glaze to reduce absorption.  The two pieces of earthenware were made by Conrad Londenberg (sp?) who sold to 20 stores in the Sheboygan area, which he haul in a cart from store to store.  He also sold pottery from his house.  He started selling in 1856 & was still selling in 1893.  He died in 1899.

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Above are two 'flip' jugs.  With a flip of the wrist someone can separate or remove the cream that had risen to the top of the jug of fresh milk. To the right is the earlier earthenware jug made in Sheboygan with a lead glaze.  On the left is a stoneware jug with an Albany slip glaze. Above is the earthenware bowl along with two hand thrown stoneware bowls.  The two bowls neatly stack on top of each other.  The inside you can see the potter finger's indent & the outer side is smooth from using some tool.
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Above is a stoneware bottle marked "J B Ferstl - Ashland Wis." Above is three just.  The two outside ones are glazed with Albany slip.  The center & right jugs are marked & shown below.  Both are marked "C Hermann & Co - Milwaukee".
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The above churn has a stylized flower, but nobody knew what the original flower was the basis for this design.  This same design is seen on some Canadian & Pennsylvanian stoneware.  It is marked "John B Maxfield - Milwaukee"  Maxfield used clay from Ohio. This churn has an identifiable flower motif of tulips.  Tulips were a very common motif of German heritage.
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The stoneware crock above with the Albany slip interior is marked "T Guenther - Sheboygan".  This was made by Theodore Guenther who got his clays from the east coast.  The crock & the two churns above & the two jugs below are salt glazed.  Salt would be thrown in the kiln where it would vaporize & then coat the pottery with a clear coating.  The blue designs were done with cobalt salts.  The brown jug below used magnesium to create that color.

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On the left is John B Maxfield jug & on the right is a Whitewater Pottery ware. The jug is marked "John B Maxfield - Milwaukee".
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Maxfield started production as "John & Amos Maxfield" in 1853.  Later it became "John B Maxfield" in 1856.

In his dissertation on Wisconsin Pottery in 1972, Mark Knippen identified 248 potters who worked at approximately 40 kilns.  He found a lot of his data by going through the 1850 through the 1890 census data looking for people who identified themselves as potters.  A question that could be answered from this data was if the person created pottery or was just in the business.

Another picture of the John B Maxfield jug.

Related Pages:

Related Sites: (The sites will open up in a new window)

Mr Bottles - Has an extensive listing of over 100 clay beer bottles made in Wisconsin from 1850 until the turn of the century.  The listings include name, location and pictures of many.  Be sure to read the introduction to clay bottles because it contains information about how they were made, of what materials, the markings and much more.  Recently added were pictures of Wisconsin Antique Stoneware.