Tuesday, September 15, 2009


 Old Sleepy Eye stonewareQ: I found a pitcher that appears to be Old Sleepy Eye, without the old sleepy Indian pottery mark. The mark on the bottom is a diamond shape with "Monmouth" written in the center and "ILL" below that. I can't make out more than "SCO' on the top. Do you have an idea what pottery mark this might be?

A: Old Sleepy Eye stoneware pictures the profile of an Indian, teepees, and trees. It was made as premiums that were put in bags of flour sold by the Sleepy Eye Milling Co. of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Eventually the government made the milling company stop putting pottery in the bags since the customer wasn't getting the full weight of flour. Blue and gray Sleepy Eye was made by Weir Pottery Company of Monmouth, Illinois, from c.1899-1905. Weir merged with six other potteries and became Western Stoneware in 1906. Western Stoneware Company made blue and white Sleepy Eye from 1906 until 1937, long after the flour mill went out of business in 1921. Western Stoneware has operated as WS, Inc. since 2006. The mark you describe was used by Western Stoneware Company and the letters above the word "Monmouth" are "WSCO." The town, the lake it is on, and the flour milling company are named after Sleepy Eye, a Dakota Indian who had drooping eyelids. His Indian name, Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba, means sleepy eyes or drooping eyelids. He was one of four Indians who went to Washington, D.C. to meet President James Monroe in 1824 and was later involved in the treaty that gave Sioux lands to the U.S. government. Old Sleepy Eye died in 1860. His monument in the town of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, is inscribed "Always a Friend of the Whites." Reproductions of Sleepy Eye pieces are being made and new pieces that were never sold as premiums are also being made. The original pitchers came in five sizes and were made in one piece. Reproduction pitchers have an attached handle and are lighter in weight. It looks like you paid $1.99 for it, so you got a bargain. It is worth $100 or more, depending on size and condition.


Anonymous said...

I have a crude pottery bowl of a rustic red or reddish brown. The bowl has embedded into the inside botttom of the bowl a fully opened rose. Who made this pottery and how old is it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Sleepy Eye response from Kovels: Only the 4 original old Weir flemish premiums were put into the flour sacks. Also, the original set of 5 blue and white pitchers had an attached handle, whereas the reproductions are usually made of one piece.