On public display for the first time is a charming private collection of chalkwares to be discovered on display at the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House. Don’t miss this petite display included with admission for the fall and Christmas seasons.
In 19th century American cities and towns peddlers went door to door selling their “wares” or plaster-of-Paris figurines painted in bright colors as decorative art intended as household ornaments and mantle garnitures. These hollow figurines called “chalkware” because of their apparent similarity to the look of chalk were molded into the forms of stylized animals, birds, bouquets of flowers and fruits, houses, and famous busts of people. These small sculptures were created inexpensively to imitate the more expensive English Staffordshire figurines of the same subjects.
This once popular collector’s item could be said to have made a recent resurgence with the “paint your own pottery” shops in tourist destinations across the country. The only main difference being that the bisque ware pottery is glazed and re-fired in the kiln, whereas the antique chalkware pieces were just never fired and simply dried and painted with watercolor or oil paints.
Chalkware pieces are considered rare finds because of their inherent fragility and one-of-a-kind nature, as they were created individually before mass production. Their fabrication lasted until the turn of the 20th century when they were replaced with more modern materials and manufacturing methods, although the concept of chalkwares were revived for the production of carnival prizes.