Wisconsin Ceramic Art Collection | Wisconsin Historical Society

Resource Description

About Our Wisconsin Ceramic Art Objects

Wisconsin Historical Museum Collections

Wisconsin Ceramic Art Collection | Wisconsin Historical Society

Need intro describing scope of our holdings


How Ceramic Art Objects are Organized


175 objects from the Wisconsin Historical Museum show the diverse range of ceramic art made by Wisconsin artisans from the 1880s to the 1960s. Included are examples of ornamental pottery, painted china, and small ceramic sculptures created by Wisconsin artists and potteries.

What’s not included: Items in the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society's historic sites.

Once you select a browse category, you will have several optiMons to narrow your search based on the parameters of that category.

As you drill down, you will see a list of ceramic pottery item records. Each listing has a thumbnail image and a brief description. To enlarge the image, click on the thumbnail. To see the detail record of the object, click on its brief description.

Browse Categories

Ceramic art objects are browsable by maker.

American Art Clay Works, 1892-1895  (Edgerton, WI)

founded by two Danish potters, Thorwald Samson and Louis Ipson, who had worked for Pauline Pottery; specialized in statuettes, busts, and wall plaques

Badger Craft Pottery, 1920s-1930s (Madison, WI)

an operation whose history is not corroborated by supporting documentation

Century House, 1948-1963 (Madison, WI)

operated by a married team of potters, Priscilla Jane Scalbom Howell and Max Howell; specialized in plates, bowls, mugs, tea sets, lamp bases, and figurines; company continued to exist as a retailer of Scandinavian furniture

Ceramic Arts Studio, 1940-1955 (Madison, WI

founded by Wisconsin potter Lawrence Rabbitt, who partnered with Reuben Sand; specialized in head vases, wall plaques, salt and pepper sets, and decorative figurines; many products designed by Madison-born Betty Harrington

Edgerton Art Clay Works, 1895-189 (Edgerton, WI)

new name for American Art Clay Works

Glenn A. Minshal, 1941l (Madison, WI)

Kansas-born bookstore clerk who may have made pottery as an avocation; all works in the collection are bowls

Norse Pottery (Edgerton, WI: 1903-1904; Rockford, IL: 1904-1913)

founded by Samson and Ipson from American/Edgerton Art Clay Works; specialized in reinterpretations of Scandinavian artifacts

Pauline Pottery (Chicago, IL: 1883-1888; Edgerton, WI: 1888-1894)

founded by Pauline Jacobus; specialized in cups, ewers, jars, lamps, teapots, and vases; produced pottery for retailers Marshall Field and Tiffany; succeeded by Edgerton Pottery after bankruptcy

Susan S. Frackelton (Milwaukee, WI: 1881-1904; Chicago, IL 1904-1909)

Milwaukee-born authority on china painting who also produced art pottery and became known for distinctive salt-glazed stoneware

Detail Records

Each object has a detail record which contains the following information.

Catalog Number

The identification number the Wisconsin Historical Museum uses to track the object. Please refer to this number in any correspondence with Museum staff.

AAT Object Term

What the artifact is called according to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a vocabulary created by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Applicable object name and object genre terms are listed.


A list of the materials used to make the object, in terms used by the Art and Architecture Thesaurus.

Detailed description

Physical description of the object. Information about the condition is not accessible online at this time.

Object history

Contextual information about the object, its maker, its owner(s), and/or the circumstances surrounding its creation and use. If such information is unknown, the object history does not appear.


Dates associated with the object's history. Dates may refer to design, manufacture, modification, use, and/or subject.



houses a wide variety of fine and decorative arts, including approximately 7500 glass and ceramic pieces,



If you would like more information regarding any of the objects, please contact the Curator of Domestic Life. The Historical Society cannot provide information regarding appraisal values and storage locations.


Related Materials

Wisconsin Pottery Association website  or more information on most of these makers

visit the online exhibit, Pottery by Frackelton.

Pauline Pottery Covered Jar, Curator's Favorites

Frackelton article in WMOH, Summer 2012 isssue

History of American Pottery Movement in Wisconsin

The American Art Pottery movement originated in 1876 when a group of women china decorators in Cincinnati began to experiment with ceramic glaze techniques inspired by British Arts and Crafts pottery. This new approach to ceramics as an art form caught on quickly, and studios producing ceramic art sprang up across the United States. 

One of Wisconsin's most innovative and influential ceramists was Milwaukee native Susan Frackelton. In the 1880s Frackelton gained national recognition as a china decorator when she developed a line of paints, patented a portable kiln, and published "Tried by Fire" (1885), an instructional manual for amateur china painters. Frackelton went on to make distinctive salt-glazed stoneware.

Pauline Jacobus was another woman who made a successful career from ceramic art. She established the Pauline Pottery in Chicago in 1883, using molds and a staff of decorators to produce vases, candlesticks, and other ornamental wares. In 1888 Jacobus moved the pottery to Edgerton, Wisconsin, to be near high-quality clay beds.

The success of the Pauline Pottery attracted a number of other ceramic artists to Edgerton. The museum's collection includes work by Thorwald Samson and Louis Ipson, two Danish potters who came to Edgerton to work with Jacobus. The pair began producing terra-cotta figurines and plaques under the name American Art Clay Works in 1892 (renamed Edgerton Art Clay Works in 1895). In 1903 they developed a new line of ceramics, the Norse Pottery, modeled after ancient Scandinavian artifacts.

New ceramic art businesses emerged in Madison in the mid-20th century. These included Century House, operated by Priscilla and Max Howell, and the Ceramic Arts Studio, founded by Lawrence Rabbitt. Working with designer Betty Harrington, the Ceramic Arts Studio became the most commercially successful of the Madison potteries, producing up to 500,000 molded ceramic figurines and other items at its peak in the late 1940s.

Wisconsin ceramic art can be found in the collections of several other museums and local historical societies around the state. The Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database includes images of Pauline Pottery at the Neville Public Museum of Brown County, Pauline and other Edgerton potteries at the Rock County Historical Society and the Kenosha Public Museum, and work by Susan Frackelton at the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum. More information about each of these artisans, as well as other Wisconsin potteries, is available from the Wisconsin Pottery Association, a statewide organization of ceramic collectors.