Pieces made by Shawnee Pottery (1937-1961) are popular and inexpensive. Probably best-known are the dinnerware pieces from sets of Corn King, made from 1946 to 1954; Corn Queen, made from 1954 to 1981; and the figural cookie jars. Any jars that were imperfect were kept aside and sold to employees or to the public in the company store. Many of these jars were given added decorations to hide flaws, and today many collectors seek these “rarities.” Original “perfect” jars had no gold decoration and no small bugs, patches, or flowers used to hide flaws.
In 1937 Shawnee Pottery began operations in the former American Encaustic facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Arrowheads found in the area, in conjunction with the heritage of local Shawnee Native Americans, inspired Louise Bauer, who was an in-house designer for this new company, to develop a logo with an arrowhead and profile of a Shawnee Indian Head. The Shawnee Pottery company operated from 1937 through 1961.
After the new logo was finalized, the company then became known as Shawnee Pottery. Production under this new company name began in August 1937. The first products were primarily decorative items like figurines, cookie jars and vases which could be found in “five and dime” stores, such as r, S.S. Kresge’s and McCrory Stores Shortly after production began in 1937, Sears and Roebucks Co. asked the Shawnee Pottery Company to design a line of dinnerware known as Valencia, and a line of kitchen ware exclusively for their stores.
World War II had its effect on the Shawnee Pottery. The Army Air Force had contracts with Shawnee Pottery company from 1942 – 1946 which provided Shawnee with 90% of its production. During this period, ceramic designer Robert Heckman joined the company.
Kitchen Items and Cookie Jars:
The first Smiley pig cookie jars were the cold painted jars, offered with either a blue or red scarf at the wholesale price of $12. per dozen. The Smiley salt and peppers were sold wholesale at the price of $3.60 per dozen. Meanwhile, the 1945 Sears Roebuck catalog offered sets of the Shawnee salt and peppers (watering can, farmer pigs and winking owl) at forty-seven cents each, along with teapots for $1.29 (horizontal ribbed base) and $1.59 (vertical ribbed base).
Other Products :
Shawnee Pottery Company offered a wide range of products for the kitchen, from baking dishes to whipping jars and everything you can think of in-between. They also produced a line of decorative art pottery, from aquarium ornaments to wall pockets.
In the mid 1990s another Shawnee Pottery Company surfaced for a few years selling cookie jars, which should not be confused with the vintage Shawnee company. This company has also been advertised as “The New Shawnee Pottery Company”. They have sold and produced several different cookie jars, Although the markings on the bottom of the jars do not look like the older company, one jar shows both USA and Shawnee Impressed on the bottom, unfortunately this could confuse new collectors.The New Shawnee Pottery Company has made several different designs and they are all very different from the original Shawnee jars.
Beware of Fakes and Look-a-Likes:
There are numerous fakes on the marketplace with the Smiley pig being the most popular target. Beware of jars literally covered in crazing and of decals/flowers not seen before. The all over crazing is actually a glaze that makes the crazed effect. Although Shawnee Pottery had many variations, after studying a good book or two, you’ll be able to spot the fakes.
Several Shawnee jars have been copied and produced by larger companies. One reproduction is the Sailor or Jack Tar. Since it is well-marked on the bottom as a Midwest jar, there should be no problem with its origin. The Block China/Jonal company also produced a series of retro classics that included a Puss ‘n Boots jar.
The Sky’s the Limit:
Although everything “Shawnee” is collectible, cookie jars are especially popular. The Smiley pig, Winnie pig, Muggsy dog, Puss n’ Boots and Dutch Jack and Jill were some of the more popular jars produced by Shawnee Pottery. Smiley, in his many variations, is one of the most “wanted” jars of all for cookie jar collectors, not only Shawnee collectors. A collection doesn’t seem complete without at least one or two Smileys.Since gold-trimmed jars are always the most sought after, it’s interesting to note that most gold trimmed jars were originally seconds or had blemishes. Gold and decals were applied to the jars to “hide” the blemish. These jars were later sold in specialty shops at a higher price, and of course now command a MUCH higher price.
Today, it appears the sky’s the limit when it comes to the rarer gold trimmed, decorated jars. In 2002 a Smiley Pig sold for $6750. at the Kent Mickelson Auction House in Missouri.