RED WING, Minn. — An 8-gallon Red Wing blue-banded pantry jar was the top item in this year’s Red Wing Collectors Society (RWCS) Convention Auction, held July 11. Thanks
to its good condition and the fact that the 8-gallon size is quite hard to find, it drew an impressive $4,200 gavel price.
The RWCS celebrated its 36th anniversary at this year’s convention, which brought nearly 1,500 visitors to the city of Red Wing from July 10-13 to buy, sell and learn more about the lines of Red Wing stoneware, art pottery and dinnerware. This year’s event was sponsored by Red Wing Stoneware, Red Wing Pottery, Larry’s Jugs Antiques and Treasure Island Casino.
Other items of interest in this year’s auction, which was operated by Houghton’s Auction Service, included a 2-gallon Elephant Ear Ice Water cooler (hairline), $2,100; 2-gallon “Geno Mfg. Co.” advertising water cooler (Mint), $2,100; Red Wing Gray Line cake stand (cracked), $1,300; and a 20-gallon butterfly crock back-stamped “Red Wing Stoneware Company” (Mint), $1,050.
For notable art pottery items, a hard-to-find Red Wing Cleveland Brushed Ware vase sold for $1,200 and a pair of M3014 Decorator Line vases sold for $200 and $325, respectively. A 6-3/4-inch tall Nokomis glaze elephant sold for $450.
Top dinnerware lots included a large grouping of Town & Country dinnerware for $350 and a 31-piece lot of Ernest Sohn Butter Mold dinnerware for $325. The auction, which consisted of about 190 items, brought more than $58,000 in total sales.
Events throughout the week included the annual business meeting, a “Crock Hunt” scavenger hunt around the historic Mississippi River town, and the always anticipated Saturday Show & Sale. There was also a special display room at Red Wing High School, where members created their own unique displays for the education and enjoyment of attendees, combined with some fun and creative competition. Members bought and sold items throughout the week in the parking lot at Pottery Place Mall. About 200 volunteers helped make this year’s convention a success. RWCS members Dennis Nygaard, Steve Showers, Paul Boudin and Connie Mathison officially kicked off the convention on July 11 with a keynote presentation on digging in the Red Wing Pottery Dump. The Goodhue County Historical Society Museum also got in on the act by opening its vault of archives to RWCS members throughout the week.
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To increase funds and support for its new museum space, the RWCS Foundation held “Wine-ing for Red Wing” – an event that featured food and beverages, silent and live auctions and live music by musician Karl Burke. The RWCS Foundation is in the process of renovating the north half of the Pottery Place Annex building to house the new Red Wing Pottery Museum, which is scheduled to open during next year’s RWCS Convention on July 9, 2014. The RWCS Foundation took in more than $30,000 in donations over the course of the week.
The year’s commemorative, which could be purchased only by RWCS members, was a Red Wing stoneware Bulldog figure. Two limited-edition commemoratives were also produced. These were mixed in with the regular commemoratives, and all were packaged in sealed boxes, so a small number of members were fortunate enough to get one. Of all the commemorative Bulldogs that were made, 90 percent were brown, 9 percent were white and black and 37 pieces were two-toned tan. RWCS Commemorative Manager Bob Morawski also had several special items made that were auctioned off to benefit the Society.
Attendees had a good selection of topics to learn about during the educational sessions held on July 12, including an orientation for first timers, Red Wing zinc glaze, Red Wing 101, recent finds from the old pottery dump, Red Wing dinnerware, history of the villages surrounding the Goodhue County clay pits, Red Wing bowls and creating the 2013 RWCS commemorative. Local potter Richard Spiller and Finnish potter Aba Luostarinen held hands-on pottery classes for adults, and the RWCS Foundation held an information session on all the news surrounding the future Red Wing Pottery Museum. In addition, the 2nd annual Crock Fest celebration featuring food vendors and music by The Crusiers was held at Red Wing’s Central Park later that day. It was sponsored by Maple City Pottery.
Another unique aspect of the RWCS Convention was the participation of the younger generation through the KidsView program. The Society is on the leading edge of creating engaging and educational ways to get the younger generations involved in collecting. The focus on these young members is an important part of the vision of the society to ensure its continued existence and growth. KidsView Co-Chairs Sue Tagliapetra and Aarika Floyd announced at the annual business meeting at the end of the week that they were stepping down from their roles after many combined years of service; they were given a standing ovation.
Young Red Wing collectors ages 13 to 20 participated in the Young Collectors Clubbat Convention. Activities included a hands-on pottery wheel opportunity led by RWCS member Frank Sheldon, and a hike up Red Wing’s famed Barn Bluff. The Young Collectors Club recently announced that participants can be eligible for a college scholarship by participating in club activities and earning participation points. Contact program chairperson Wendy Callicoat at email@example.com for more information.
The next official RWCS event will be the annual MidWinter GetTogether, which will be held in Des Moines on Feb. 6-8, 2014.
Founded in 1977, the Red Wing Collectors Society is devoted to educating people about all American pottery. For more information or to become a member, call the RWCS business office at 800-977-7927, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.RedWingCollectors.org.