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WISCONSIN POTTERIES

Redware & Stoneware

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1996

Last Revised 04/20/2010

    Wisconsin's potteries, particularly those at Belmont and Whitewater, rivaled Galena, Illinois, in producing redware of the highest quality. John Hammett was an active potter between 1842 and 1879. Characteristics of his colors were glazes in variations of yellow, orange, and green, colors also typical of Galena, where Hammett is said to have worked. However, form, far more than color is the distinguishing characteristic of these jugs. The overall shape, particularly the neck, and handle finish is as stylish as anything ever done in this country. Hammett must be regarded as one of the outstanding nineteenth-century potters.

    Whitewater pottery is a typical early stoneware shape, decorated with cobalt, which turns purple-black on red clay. Whitewater's first potter was Warren Cole, active from 1845 to 1855 working in conjunction with George Williams, and, from the contour alone it may be assumed that this pottery is from his kiln, since ovoid pots were rare after 1850. Cole was followed by J.C. Williams & Co. circa 1855-59 and finally, Dan Cole & Co. active until 1871. There was a second shop in Whitewater, this one run by Michael Ohnhaus and John Milz between 1859 and 1881. Although much of the glazed earthenware now found in Wisconsin must be attributed to Whitewater, there was another well known redware craftsman, Konrad Langenberg of Franklin, who made teapots, cake molds, baking dishes, and crocks from 1860 until 1888. Langenberg's hand formed Christmas tree ornaments are most prized.

    Several Milwaukee shops made red earthenware, the chief artisans being Frederick & Albert Herman, 1857-98, and John G. Bauer, 1857-1905. The dominant product was flowerpots, though household crockery was also manufactured.

    Milwaukee and Sheboygan were the stoneware centers of Wisconsin. The river bank in the former city was once piled high with Ohio clay brought to the city to serve the kilns of Charles Herman & Co., John B. Maxfield, Isaac Brazelton, and other manufacturers. The Herman firm was opened in 1856 and continued into the twentieth century. It was an extensive operation, producing in later years a half-million gallons of stoneware annually. (Western shops measured output by capacity rather than by piece as in the East). The stamp "C. HERMANN & Co.", sometimes the name alone and sometimes with "MILWAUKEE" added, appears on some fine wheel-turned cork and wax-sealing fruit jars.

    The only serious competition within the state was offered by the Sheboygan shops. Isaac Brazelton had transferred his business there in 1855, and he was succeeded by Theodore Gunther, whose Eastern Stoneware Factory produced substantial amounts of crockery between 1862 and 1887.

Article taken from the Pottery & Porcelain Handbook also appeared in The Cream City Courier, submitter unknown; and excerpt from Bottle Makers and Their Marks by Julian Harrison Toulous, 1971, re: the Hermann stamp. 

WISCONSIN POTTERS

City - Potter Name / c. Period / Product

 Cottage Inn (near present day Belmont) - John Hammett & Bros. c. 1842-79  Redware

Broadhead - William Murrey  c. 1868 Redware

Franklin - Konrad Langenberg c. 1860-88 Redware

Manitowoc - William Reinhardt c. 1868-69 ?

Menasha - Batchelder Pottery c. 1850-80 ?

Milwaukee - Isaac P. Brazelton c. 1844-55 Stoneware

                    Charles Hermann & Co.  (see Pierron) c. 1856-02 Stoneware, 554 E. Water St.

                    Frederick & Albert Herrmann (son) c. 1848-84 Redware, 480 3rd St.

                    Albert Herrmann c. 1884-98 Redware

                    John G. Bauer c. 1857-05 Redware, 420 Washington St.

                    Frank (Franz) Mohr c. 1856-66 Redware.,  828 Winnebago

                    Wentzel Weitzner c. 1856-96 Redware

                    Caspar Hennecke & Co. c. 1868-95 Stoneware, Buffalo St

                    John G. Heinze c. 1867-94 Redware, 1001 Winnebago

                    H. Weis & F. Schmidt c. 1876-15 ?

                    Wenzel Reitzner c. ? ?, 402 6th St.

                    Ferdinand Fleig c. ? ?, 1407 Fond du Lac Ave.

                    Gallasch Wenzell c. ? ? (Mustard Manuf., 116 Ogden)

                    Louie Pierron (see C. Hermann & Co.) c. 1886-1935 Stoneware

                    Oscar F. Baker c. 1851-53 Stoneware, Milwaukee Stoneware Factory, W. Water Street near                         Clybourne

                    John B. & Amos Maxfield c. 1854-55 Stoneware (Purchased Milw. Stoneware Factory)

                    John B. Maxfield c. 1854-58 Stoneware (Bought out bro. Amos)

                    E.D. Chapin c. 1858-? Stoneware (bought out J.B. Maxfield)

Sheboygan - Isaac Brazelton c. 1855-62 Stoneware

                    Theodore Gunther c. 1862-87 Stoneware (Eastern Stoneware Factory

                    Gunther & Burns (Peter) c. 1864-66 Stoneware

                    Miles Diedrich & Co. c. 1887-90 Stoneware

Whitewater - Warren Cole (Sr) & Co. (G.G. Williams). c. 1845-55 Redware, (Cole & Williams partners                         from 1847-55)

                    George G. Williams & Co. c. 1855-59 Redware

                    Cole & Hunter (Dan & William)  c. 1859-67 Redware

                    Daniel Cole c. 1867-71 Redware

                    Michael Ohnhaus & Co. (John Milz) c. 1859-71 Redware

    The above listing was obtained from articles previously published in The Cream City Courier by unknown submitters (believed to be in part by Peter Maas?). Additional info was received from stoneware collector Jim Berns and the book "Wisconsin Folk Pottery" by Kenneth Dearolf in corporation with the Kenosha Public Museum, 1986.

    From a Milwaukee Sentinel article "City of Beers: History Revealed in Bottles" by Joseph A. Huddleston about M.A.B.C. member John Lauber comes this additional information article excerpts about pottery bottles.

    The earliest bottles used to contain beer in this area were pottery bottles, according to Lauber, and they were first brought to the Milwaukee area by the new arrivals. Manufacture of pottery bottles in the area was from about 1850 to the middle 1880's, and some apparently were reused for quite a while after that. They could be rather inexpensively made with available clay and wood to fuel the kilns.

    A few of the early bottle manufacturers can still be identified but most have been lost to even avid researchers. Dozens of small potteries probably operated out of homes and back sheds in small villages and farm homes throughout south and eastern Wisconsin.

    The Charles Hermann pottery in Milwaukee and the Theodore Gunther pottery in Sheboygan probably produced many of the recognizable pottery bottles still in existence now.

    Seldom was there a name or indication given as to who actually made the bottles. It's believed that markings often found around the neck of bottles was to identify the bottles by their owners or makers.

    The pottery beer bottle were normally closed with a cork, which was held down by a wire and removed by an ice pick or a similar device. Frequent chips around the tops of many bottles indicate they were reused.

    John [Lauber] is reported to possess in his collection a one of a kind multi-sided gray pottery bottle with "Taylor & Bro." impressed on the side. It has a blob top leaning slightly to one side, the top of this bottle dating from about 1851, apparently tilted before the damp clay was fired in the kiln. He also has an Otto Zwietusch pottery bottle, probably made in the 1860's.

    Excerpts from the newspaper article have been rewritten by this book's [The Milwaukee Antique Bottle & Advertising Club: The Cream City Courier - A Special 25th Anniversary Issue]  editor, Mike Reilly. copyright February, 1997.

 

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