One of the most collectable of U.S. potteries of the 20th Century is product from the Shawnee Pottery Company. In spite of being in operation for only 24 years, the company created thousands of pieces of pottery and wares. The styles of the pieces and the colors of the glazes and other finishes are distinctly American in appearance and quality.
Shawnee was a start-up in 1937 in Zanesville, Ohio. They were a relative newcomer to potteries in Ohio and the domestic market. Some of the more established companies included Brush and the very famous, popular McCoy potteries. So they had plenty of competition to overcome. The company began operations at the site of the former American Encaustic Tiling Company factory and kilns.
Malcolm Schweiker had been surveying the location of the new, as of yet unnamed company when he discovered an arrowhead on the property. This was not unexpected, because the original Encaustic Tiling factory had been built upon the site of the discovery of a skeleton and flint weapons. After researching historical records, Schweiker determined that the indigenous tribe of Zanesville was one of the Shawnee people’s. Therefore it was thought appropriate to name the new company “Shawnee”. The company’s trademark logo became a flint arrowhead framing a portrait of a Shawnee Warrior.
The original contractors for Shawnee products were the mass merchandisers S.S. Kresge, F.W. Woolworth and McCrory stores. The contractors provided the original designs and then promised purchase orders if the items could actually be manufactured. Later, Sears, Roebuck and Company jumped onto the bandwagon. Sears’ exclusive design of Valencia dinnerware is what gave the Shawnee Company its initial boost.
Eventually items as diverse as artware, vases, flower pots and kitchen wares were produced. Some of Shawnee’s most famous, most collectable products are their figural cookie jars.
The Shawnee pottery, in my collection, consists mostly of floral ware. Most of which is mid-century product. If you’ve seen some of my Floral Friday posts, you’ve likely seen a few Shawnee vases and planters.
The two photos in this post show three mid-century planters and one 1940s era wall-pocket…the “bow” shaped container. My projects for the week include filling these four vessels with arrangements. Be sure and see how they turn out by reading this Friday’s bluejayblog on Floral Friday.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if there was ever a product line of Shawnee blue jay items.