PREVIOUS QUESTIONS FROM OUR WEBPAGE

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Recently at a show, I had the opportunity to view a CAS pair I’d never run across before. These were two leaf-shaped green plaques, each about 5-1/2” wide. Molded on each plaque was a modernistic looking figure of a running deer. They didn’t have a Studio marking on the backs, though.

 

When I saw the price tag, I nearly passed out, so passed them by. Now I’m thinking I should have bought them. What do you say?

 

Kickin’ Myself

 

Dear Kickin’:

 

Well, I was going to say “yikes”, but that would probably set you to kickin’ yourself all over again. So let’s just say that purchasing them would probably have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Uh-oh – I can hear that kickin’ starting up again!)

 

The Stylized Deer Plaques are among the rarest of Ceramic Arts Studio pieces. They really have no other counterparts in the CAS inventory. Released in 1953, the Deer Plaques were the work of associate designer Ulle Cohen, better known as “Rebus”. Although only at CAS for several years, “Rebus” contributed some imaginative pieces. He specialized in animal figurines that veered between the ultra-modern angular, and the ultra-realistic. (You can read more about “Rebus” in the “Animal Fair” article, elsewhere in this issue.)

 

The Deer Plaques resemble little else in the “Rebus” repertoire, since the remainder of his Studio work was figural. The deer have a flowing, Art Deco look in their styling. Because of that, and because the few that have surfaced are unmarked, many dealers mistakenly attribute them to an unnamed designer of the 1930s. But they’re most definitely by “Rebus”. The focus on line over detail was a recurring element in his work. And, while green was thought to be the only Deer Plaque colorway, an even nicer tan-and-brown single plaque was recently located by longtime CAS collector Jeffery Grayson. (A photo of that sensational find appears on the cover of this issue).

 

You don’t mention the price tag on the pair you passed up, but in the early 2000s, the Deer Plaques were fetching $1000-1200. . .each. Nowadays, a single plaque could reach $500-600. . .a still-heady range. 

 

(Now, stop kickin’ yourself: Jeffery Grayson’s Deer Plaque will be among the offerings at this year’s Convention Auction – so you still have a fighting chance!)

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

I have a “Mary Quite Contrary” plaque, and some of the red trim paint has worn off. I’ve never encountered this before with a CAS piece. Someone told me it’s because the trim was “cold-painted”. What does that mean?

I. C. Winters

Dear I.C.

Cold-painting refers to the process when paint was applied after a piece was fired. This was only used when a color would not come out correctly in the kiln – for instance, a true red. When fired, it often came out a dull browny-red, so the presumably oil-based paint was applied after, to the glazed surface. Because it is on the surface, cold-painted colors are often susceptible to flaking.

Nowadays, certain of these paints can be cured in low-temperature ovens, but in Studio days it’s presumed that the cold-painting was allowed to dry at room temperature. Several pieces in the Studio’s inventory employed this technique, which often consisted simply of the application of black highlights, such as the Shadow Dancer’s scarves. The most intricate and extensive use of the process, however, appeared late in the Studio’s history, with lavishly cold-painted versions of such nursery rhyme characters as Little Miss Muffet, Jack Horner, and Goosey Gander, and your Mary Quite Contrary (always a charmer, even with some flaking!)

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

What’s a CAS “lunch hour piece”? I’m working up an appetite just thinking about it!

 

I. M. Hongree

Dear I. M.:

Settle back with a snack, and let me explain. CAS decorators were given leeway to do some decorating on their own free time, for pieces they wanted to give as gifts, or just keep for themselves. Since that free time was usually during lunch hours, the "lunch hour" term came into use.

Although the standard figurines were used (which the decorators purchased at cost), they were free to paint them as the mood struck. These pieces were, of course, not sold commercially, but do show up at estate sales and the like. Often, the decorator would actually sign the base of such a "lunch hour" piece.

The two Lillibeths shown on the cover of this issue are presumed to have been made as “lunch hour” pieces. They are beautifully decorated, in ways that were not standard at the Studio. The maroon and green model may well have been prepared as a holiday gift, with the maroon substituting for true red. The decoration of both pieces must have been intensely time-consuming – not suited to regular production schedules, but just the right projects for many a long lunch hour!

 

Now enjoy your lunch!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

What, exactly, is a “Chinthe”? I recently bought a piece at a garage sale with that marking, and the Ceramic Arts Studio stamp. It looks like some sort of angry dragon. Kind of scary, actually. What can you tell me about it?

 

Fiercely Wondering

 

Dear Fiercely:

 

Well, if you think the Chinthe looks scary, then he’s doing his job! The 1954 Ceramic Arts Studio catalog describes this fellow as an “authentically styled Temple Guardian”. He was sold along with two companion pieces, the Burmese Man & Lady, as part of the Studio’s ongoing series of “foreign costume” figurines. The Man & Lady are often found in a bisque finish, but more desirable are the heavily decorated pair; the colors provide a nice complement to the brown or green shaded Chinthe. As the figures were relatively small (all under 5 inches), they proved difficult to intricately decorate, which may explain their rarity. A current estimate for the Chinthe is $175-200, and $200-225 each for the decorated Burmese.

 

Designer Betty Harrington recalled also wanting to design a “Burmese Temple” to go with this trio, but there’s no record that one was ever released.

 

Enjoy your Chinthe — and think of his fierce scowl as just an over-eager grin!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I just bought a pair of CAS figurines. They’re a squatting man and woman, kind of grumpy-looking, with their hands up by their faces. Each figure has a slot in the back, like a piggy bank. Who are they?

 

Banking On An Answer

 

Dear Banking:

 

You were lucky enough to run across Mr. & Mrs. Blankety Blank, designed by Betty Harrington for CAS in 1952. You’re right: they are banks, of a very particular type. Mr.& Mrs. are “swear banks”, Betty’s interpretation of the old-fashioned “cuss box”. According to the 1952 CAS catalog, “Mr. and Mrs. Blankety Blank have slots in the back of their necks. If anyone swears, a coin must be put in the bank of the opposite sex.”

 

The banks were only designed by Harrington in response to market demand; she often described them as her “least favorite” CAS pieces. Still, their “shocked” expressions (“an angry male and a horrified female”, said the catalog) make them cute as can be, and a favorite with collectors who will shell out $120-140 for each one. We swear!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

On eBay recently, I saw a beautiful (and very pricey) figurine of a kneeling lady clutching a giant fish. The description said it was by Ceramic Arts Studio. Is it really? I’ve never seen this one before.

 

Aquanetta

 

Dear Aqua:

 

Yes, the figurine you ran across was designed by Betty Harrington for Ceramic Arts Studio. It’s the Mermaid & Fish Vase, which, while not one-of-a-kind, had an extremely limited production run. While an intriguing concept, it must have seemed rather unusual upon its debut, circa 1948. The detail of the sculpting is amazing, especially when one realizes that Betty carved most of it into the master mold itself -- in the negative, so that when cast, the image would emerge in the positive. This detail was further enhanced by the application of transparent glazes. Such glazes only color the surface, rather than masking it; the more glaze that collects in the grooves of a design, the darker the fired result will be. This process was used to glorious effect in the Mermaid & Fish Vase, as it’s possible to see all of the carved detail.

 

The Vase is 6-1/4” high, and, as noted, very few were produced. If you’re lucky enough to run across one, it will set you back between (yikes!) $800-1000. For the determined CAS collectors, it may prove worth every penny!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My wife and I recently relocated, and while unpacking we unearthed a pair of ceramic figurines. My wife thinks they belonged to her mother. Both are of ladies in long yellowy-green gowns with hoods. Each is holding a black smiling mask, and has a “Ceramic Arts Studio” stamp on the bottom, but that’s the only marking. They are about 12” high. What can you tell me about them?

 

Stage Struck

 

Dear Struck:

 

From the description, your figures seem to be Comedy & Tragedy, designed by Betty Harrington for Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison, and released in 1950. The style reflects Betty’s interest in the modern dance costume designs favored by Martha Graham – lots of flowing, stretchy fabric, with just the hands and face revealed. Other CAS figurines from this period, particularly of dancers, show the same influence. In the 1980s, when Betty was doing ceramic work on her own, she designed another Comedy & Tragedy pair, but those two are quite different – they’re taller, and show some exposed leg.

 

Comedy & Tragedy came in a choice of several robe colors:  among them, chartreuse (the yellowy-green you have), green, black, white, and deep green. In mint condition, an estimated current value for the pair would be $160-200.

 

Since the figurine bases are of a good size, they usually have the figurine names stamped on them. As yours don’t, check those masks again – unless you have duplicates, only one would be smiling; the other, Tragedy, would be wearing a frown. (Editor’s Note: “Stage Struck” re-checked the masks his figurines were holding, and found he did indeed have both “Comedy & Tragedy”.)

 

Comedy & Tragedy are beautifully designed, and take center stage in many CAS collections. In fact, they were the first two I ever owned. (Thanks, Mom!)

 

Baby talk? That’s the topic this time around, as we dip once more into the “CAS Mailbag”!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Last summer while antiquing, I came across a cute figurine of a sleeping black baby. I collect Black Americana and when I saw this one, I had to get it! I think I paid around forty dollars. Her place now is right on my dresser, along with other small collectables, so I get to admire her everyday!

 

I was told this figurine was by Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison. However, I’ve not run yet run across a similar one. So here’s my question: is this actually a CAS original, a reproduction, or the work on another company? On the underside, the figure is marked “Betty”, if that helps! I’ve attached a photo. Thanks!

 

Babe E. Face

 

P.S. After doing some research on the history of CAS, ( to me the history is equally as fascinating as the works themselves), I have become very interested in collecting more Ceramic Arts pieces. I usually focus my antiquing on garage and estate sales. It probably has something to do with the "thrill of the hunt" -- eBay is too easy!

 

Dear Babe:

 

Your figurine, Baby Betty, is indeed by Ceramic Arts Studio, and was designed by Betty Harrington, the Studio’s principal designer. The release date was 1948. There were three additional black baby figurines, Bobby, Billy, and Berty, plus 4 Caucasian babies, Woody, Winney, Willy, and Wally. The Studio catalog described them as “adorable little babies in typical child poses”. Among those poses: “sleeping”, the position favored by Betty and her Caucasian counterpart, Winney.
 
The Baby figurines are not found often, and a current price estimate for Betty in mint condition would be $240-270.
 
For the 1998 through 2001 annual Conventions, the CAS Collectors Association released special Commemorative versions of the Baby figurines, but these were produced in a variety of glazes. The stamping on the bottom of your figurine definitely marks it as a CAS original. (I'm envious: I’m still looking for at least one CAS Baby for my own collection!)

 

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I recently purchased a pair of Ceramic Arts Studio animal figurines. One’s a donkey, marked “Dem” on the base. The other, an elephant, is marked “Rep”. Who are these contenders?

 

Polly Tician

 

Dear Polly:

 

You are lucky enough to have two CAS figurines inspired by a Presidential campaign. Dem the Donkey and Rep the Elephant were released in 1952, in honor  of their respective political parties. That year, the candidates for President were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II (as you no doubt remember, “Ike” emerged victorious.)

 

Dem & Rep were designed for CAS by “Rebus” (Ulle Cohen), the only designer besides Betty Harrington to make a significant contribution to the Studio line. Rebus, a World War II refugee, worked for several years at Ceramic Arts Studio during the early 1950s, and his figurines feature a modern, angular flair. According to one CAS decorator, the designer’s animals had a “lean and hungry look – like Ulle himself”. Betty Harrington recalled that Rebus would spend hours observing and sketching animals at Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo, to correctly capture their musculature in his work.

 

Dem & Rep are usually found as shakers, and, like most Rebus figurines, are rather difficult to acquire. In mint condition, a current value estimate would be $200-250 for the 3-3/4” pair. Larger 6" versions of both animals were also released, but very few were manufactured, and seldom turn up. When found, these range from $400-500 each. (If those are the ones you’ve run across, you’re definitely an election year winner!)

 

Incidentally, Dem & Rep aren’t the only Rebus donkey and elephant in the CAS menagerie. He also created the Mother Donkey & Young Donkey, and the realistic elephant duo, Tembo & Tembino. Betty Harrington’s contributions to this theme include the whimsical, flower-adorned  Daisy Donkey & Elsie Elephant (plus a rare Elsie Planter); Benny Elephant & Baby Annie; the early Small Elephant -- Trunk Down, (and the nearly impossible to find Large Elephant – Trunk Down); and the Wee Elephant Girl & Boy salt-and-peppers (the Girl’s trunk forms an “S” for “salt”; the Boy’s a “P” for “pepper”.)

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I have a piece of Ceramic Arts Studio that was my dad's. It is a cup that has a striped barbershop pole handle, and an illustration of four men on the cup (a barbershop quartet?) In gold letters are the initials “SPEBSQSA”. Have you ever heard of this cup or what it is worth?

 

Barbie Shoppe

 

Dear Barbie:

 

Ceramic Arts Studio Barbershop Mugs are very sought-after by collectors. Two different types of mugs were made, in 1949 and 1975, both designed by Betty Harrington. An easy way to determine which one you have is by size. The 1949 mug is about 3-1/2 inches high. The bigger, 1975 mug is about 7" high. Both have the striped pole handles, the quartet singers, and the "SPEBSQSA"  lettering ("Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America").
 
The 1949 mugs were a very limited project for Ceramic Arts Studio, and only about 125 were produced. Studio owner Reuben Sand shared these recollections about their making:

 

“We had an electrical company that did all our work at Ceramic Arts Studio. The owner, Mr. Endres had a great interest in barbershop quartets, and was the one who started the ladies’ barbershop quartet group. He really put himself into it. He came and asked if we could make a Barbershop cup. He’d told me about the lady barbershoppers, but said the mug could have men on it. He wanted to give a mug to each of the women who helped him found the group. Betty Harrington and I talked it over, and she did a superb job designing it. Zona Liberace did all of the decorating of them, I think, from the sample that Betty created. We made about 125 of the mugs at considerable cost. We sold them to him for a dollar apiece, and I think I lost about $1,500 on that project. But it was worthwhile.”

 

(Betty Harrington herself recalled spending an enormous amount of time carving the Mug master mold, due to the tremendous amount of detail required.)

 

Even fewer of the 1975 mugs, (about 10), were made by Betty, many years after the Studio closed, for her son-in-law Al Blom and his barbershop chorus. The 1949 mug has a value estimate of $650-750 in mint condition; the much more elusive 1975 mug can fetch upwards of $1500, depending on the market!

Whichever Barbershop Mug you’re lucky enough to own, it’s quite a CAS rarity, and definitely something to sing about!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I collect holiday items year round, and was recently pleased to run across a Ceramic Arts Studio “Santa & Evergreen”. However, I have some other CAS pieces, and the tree that came with “Santa” looks just like the tree I already have with “Paul Bunyan”. Are they supposed to be identical?

 

Also, some of the paint on “Santa”s red costume seems to be peeling off. Why is that? And can I fix it? I’ve never noticed this problem with other Ceramic Arts figurines.

 

Virginia

 

Dear Virginia:

 

You can rest easy. Santa and Paul Bunyan share the same Evergreen. Only one tree, intended for use with either figurine, was created by the Studio, and released in 1953.  You’re lucky to have two Evergreens in your collection: some Santas and Paul Bunyans have to share.

 

The paint problem you noted is because the red color of Santa’s suit was cold-painted, after the figurine had already been fired. At the time, this was the only way a “true red” could be achieved. Sprucing up Santa with a bit of identical red paint where the coloring has flaked off will certainly add to his visual appeal in your collection. (However, if you intend to resell Santa, you will want to note any after-the-fact improvements.) A current value estimate for a Santa in mint condition would be $200-225, $125-150 for his Evergreen. Paul Bunyan, (easier to find, since he doesn’t spend most of the year recuperating at the North Pole), will average $75-100.

 

A side note on Santa: our good friend, and Club Historian, the late Margaret Purucker, had quite a collection of these. First-time visitors to her home were urged to “take a Santa with you”. Attempts to resist this generous offer were always fruitless: at visit’s end, Margaret would follow you out to your car, clutching a Santa, and insisting you accept it, as if it were just a plate of cookies! Best of all, it would be a Santa in, as Margaret would say, “tip-top condition”.

 

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. And sometimes her name is Margaret!

--

The Riddle Solved

 

At last! A definitive answer to a Question raised in a previous issue! We’d been asked if the Chick & Nest pair were actually salt-and-peppers, since no one seemed to have run across a Nest with pour holes. Was it just a mini-salt dip?

 

Well, David Slotten assures us that this definitely is a salt-and-pepper pair, and he has the pour-hole-equipped Nest to prove it.  And now we know the rest of the story. Thanks, Dave!

 

 

Once again, we dive into the CAS Collectors Mailbag, in search of the most interesting inquiries about Studio figurines! This time around, CAS answer-man Donald-Brian Johnson selects two timely ones: a question about an international series, perfectly attuned to our 2011 Convention theme, “Around the World With CAS, and another just right for Valentine’s Day!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

One of my favorite features in each issue is the “Tail of the Mouse & Cheese”. What a dashing fellow that furry little globe-trotter must be! However, a friend tells me that there is actually another CAS ‘Mouse’, besides the one we know and (sigh) love! Is that true? If so, who is this interloper? I’ll bet he doesn’t hold a whisker to the “Mouse & Cheese” Mouse!

 

Minnie

 

P.S. Is Mr. Mouse single?

 

Dear Minnie:

 

Answering your most urgent question first:  Mr. Mouse, of Mouse & Cheese fame, is, (except for his ever-present Cheese), unattached, (so far as we know). You may be in luck!

 

As to whether there’s another CAS Mouse, the answer to that one is “yes”. Although not seen nearly as often as the Mouse & Cheese, there was also a CAS House Mouse, designed by Betty Harrington, and released in 1955. Betty noted that she’d even designed a ceramic Grandfather’s Clock to accompany the House Mouse, although there’s no record that any of the ceramic clocks ever made it into production. However, Jon-San Creations, Reuben Sand’s metalworks firm, which operated in conjunction with CAS, did create a metal clock which had limited release. This free-standing wire rectangle, with a grandfather-clockface decal attached to its front, was probably an intended companion for the House Mouse. Those attending one of our CAS Conventions several years ago were lucky enough to see one of these metal clocks “in person”, courtesy of former Jon-San worker Karl Ahlen. 

 

In mint condition, the House Mouse, who’s about 3” long, is valued at $90-110. More pricey than his Mouse & Cheese  compatriot, but certainly not as well-traveled!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Spring is here, and all those twittering birds in the trees outside my home got me thinking about a recent ceramics purchase. He’s a cute little turquoise parakeet, marked “Pudgie” on the base. There’s also a “C” in  a circle, which told me he must be by Ceramic Arts Studio. Am I right, or just another—

--Bird Brain

 

Dear Bird:

 

Well, you’re partially right (the most important part): Pudgie is definitely by Ceramic Arts Studio. He was designed by Betty Harrington, and released by CAS in 1953. Pudgie is actually one of a pair:  his companion parakeet, who faces him, is Budgie. Jon-San Creations, the CAS metals firm, designed a wire “cage” to hold both birds, and display them more effectively. A value estimate for each bird is $50-60. The much-rarer Parakeet Cage is valued at $125-150.

 

Now for the deduction that wasn’t quite right: the “C” on the bottom of any CAS piece just means “copyright”. Many figures by various ceramic firms will also carry the copyright symbol, but it’s no indication a piece was made by Ceramic Arts Studio.

 

But, on the whole, you had the right answers. So treat yourself to a bag of birdseed

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My parents were natives of The Netherlands, so I have many ceramic figurines with an “old Dutch” theme. I particularly enjoy those by Ceramic Arts Studio – but just when I think I have them all, another pops up! Just how many CAS Dutch figurines are there, anyhow?

 

Holland-Dazed

 

Dear Holland:

 

Yes, there are a great many Dutch-themed figurines in the CAS inventory, leading to the conclusion that they were good sellers in the late 1940s, when many made their debut. Or maybe designer Betty Harrington just enjoyed the look!) Here’s the roll call:

 

Big Dutch Boy & Girl – 4”, $30-40/pr (she has folded hands, he has hands in pockets)

Wee Dutch Boy & Girl – 3”, $30-40/pr (similar pose)

Dutch Love Boy & Girl – 5”, 1947, $120-140/pr (he holds a bouquet; she’s poised for a kiss)

Hans & Katrinka Dance Pair – 5-1/2”, $80-100/pr. (this standing boy & girl kick up their heels. Careful how you place them, so they don’t kick each other!)

Hans & Katrinka, Chubby Dutch – 6-1/2”, 6-1/4”, $100-140/pr (they’re really not that chubby, but they are taller than the Dance pair. She has her eyes closed; he’s another hands-in-pockets guy.)

Sitting Dutch Boy & Girl – 4-1/2”, $50-70/pr (“shelf-sitters”)

Dutch Boy & Girl Plaques – 8-1/2”, 8”, $120-150/pr (a high-kicking duo, just right for a wall)

Dutch Dance Couple Standing – 7-1/2”, $400-500/pr. (on the order of the Plaques, and also dating from 1954, but standing, and extremely rare)

Dutch Boy & Girl Bud Vases – 4-1/2”, $400-450/pr (undated, but with features resembling early CAS pieces such as Nip & Tuck, and also very rare)

 

With CAS, “going Dutch” was never so much fun! Enjoy the hunt!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I picked up a CAS treasure for my sweetheart. Judging from the wings, arrows, and outfit (or lack of it), he looks like “Cupid”. Is he?

B.M.I. Valentine

 

Dear B.M.I.

 

Yes he is, and your sweetheart will love you for it! Cupid is a very desirable (and very rare) CAS figurine. The Caucasian version, which you have, is valued at $275-325. There’s also a black Cupid , even harder to find. (If you do, he’ll set you back $450-500).

 

It’s presumed that Cupid dates from 1944, since he appeared that year in a Milwaukee Journal photo next to his designer, Betty Harrington. It’s rumored that a third version of Cupid, in a colorway similar to the Peter Pan & Wendy pair also existed, turning that duo into a trio, but none have yet to turn up.

 

On second thought, after finding out Cupid’s value, you may want to keep him for yourself, and buy your sweetheart a box of candy!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I recently acquired this figure of a little boy holding a towel. Evidently, he’s just emerged from the bath. The seller told me it was by Ceramic Arts Studio, but I’ve never run across this particular figurine before. Is it really CAS? If not, I don’t really mind, because he looks exactly like my own little boy – but still, it would be nice to know.

 

Proud Mom

 

P.S. I paid $25.

 

Dear Mom:

 

You are in luck (and you got a terrific buy, too!) This is most assuredly a Ceramic Arts Studio figurine, designed by Betty Harrington. It’s the rare Boy with Towel. Although undated, the Boy was presumably released in about 1948, when a slew of other children-themed CAS figurines hit the market, including the eight Diapered Babies and the eight-piece Children’s Band.

 

Although commercially released, the Boy with Towel never appeared in a Studio catalog, which is why many collectors remain unfamiliar with him. No explanations for this lack of promotion have yet been uncovered, although it has been suggested that perhaps display options for the Boy were limited.

 

Interestingly enough, Betty evidently planned the Boy with Towel as one of a pair. In her sketchbook, next to pictorial references for the Boy, are sketches for a proposed, similarly-styled Little Chef. Unfortunately, that companion piece never made it to actual production. (Again, the reasons are unknown, although Betty’s drawings indicate a somewhat complicated mold may have been required.)

 

You should definitely be a “proud Mom”: the estimated current value of your Boy with Towel is $300-350!

 

Do you have a CAS-related question? Just send it to Don’s attention on our website, www.cascollectors.com.  He’ll do his best to come up with the answer (hopefully, the right one!) 

 

Some Previous Questions:

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I thought I remembered my favorite children’s stories pretty well, but maybe not. I recently picked up 2 Ceramic Arts Studio pieces.  One is marked “Alice”, but the other is supposedly the “March Hare”. With that watch, and in that waistcoat, he sure doesn’t look like the “March Hare” to me! What’s up, Doc?

 

“Bugs” in Wonderland

 

Dear Bugs:

 

And you are definitely right! The dapper fellow who accompanies Alice from Alice in Wonderland is actually The White Rabbit. It’s clear as can be, right down to his fan, and sheaf of important papers.

 

Designed by Betty Harrington, and released in 1948, the Rabbit was, for some inexplicable reason, listed in the CAS catalogs as The March Hare, a completely different character from the Lewis Carroll books. A current value estimate for the pair, in mint condition (in particular, no broken ears on the Rabbit), would be $350-400.  Hope that’s solved your Wonderland wondering!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I recently acquired a CAS mother & baby bunny pair, and have been seeking further info. I saw a CAS pair advertised on eBay as “Running Bunnies”, but my two don’t seem to be running anywhere. Just sitting. The baby fits on the mother’s lap. Can some-bunny help me?

 

All Ears

 

Dear Ears:

 

There are actually three different CAS mother-and-baby rabbit pairs designed by Betty Harrington.  From your description, it sounds as if you have the Bunny Mother & Baby snuggle set. Ceramic Arts Studio released a variety of these animal-themed salt-and-pepper “snugglers”, which proved very popular at the time, and remain favorites with today’s collectors. A mint-condition estimate would be $90-100 for your snuggle Bunny pair.

 

Relatively speaking, the snuggler Bunnies are the most “realistic” of the CAS designs. The other two bunny pairs, both from 1953, are the Running Bunnies you mentioned (aka Betty & Benny), and the Kissing Bunnies, (Mommy & Tommy). The Running Bunnies are white with a floral pattern, while the Kissing Bunny Mother wears a perky hat, and Tommy has a flower by is ear. All make “24-carrot” additions to any collection!

 

And with that pun only Peter Cottontail could love, we hop off down the bunny trail for another issue. Do you have a CAS-related mystery? Send it to Don’s attention at our

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Who is this napping fellow? He looks like he might be “Little Boy Blue” from the nursery rhyme, except he’s wearing white trousers and a striped shirt. The paper label on the base says “Ceramic Arts Studio”. Any ideas?

 

Sleepytime Gal

 

Dear Sleepy:

 

Your figurine is indeed Little Boy Blue, designed for CAS by principal designer Betty Harrington, and first released in 1948. A companion figure, Little Bo Peep was released at the same time. Little Boy Blue is a bit easier to identify in his alternate outfit: blue overalls, with a white shirt. Paper labels were used in the early years of the Studio, later replaced by an inkstamp on the base. In mint condition, his estimated current value is $30-40.

 

By the way, our late friend, longtime CAS Collector Margaret Purucker came up with a unique way of displaying Little Boy Blue to his best advantage. He’s lounging against a pile of hay on weathered boards, (Margaret’s came from her beloved Beckman Mill), with a framed country scene in the background. Very restful!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I am confused. From my parents, I inherited a pair of Ceramic Arts Studio figurines I understand are the “Gay ‘90s Couple”. However, they don’t look quite like a pair I saw on eBay, also billed as the “Gay ‘90s Couple”. How many of these are there?

 

Befuddled, and Not Yet in my 90s

 

Dear Befuddled:

 

Your puzzlement is understandable, since CAS released two versions of the Gay ‘90s Couple. Version #1 (aka Harry & Lillibeth) date from prior to 1947. These are most often found with a “milky” glaze, which mutes the colors somewhat, although a clear glaze variation was also produced. By 1949, CAS had refined its glazes, and released the Gay ‘90s Couple #2 in a clear glaze only. The posture of the man with dog is relatively the same in #2, although he now holds his hat in his left hand. The design of the woman, however is quite different. She now leans into the gentleman, rather than away from him, her hand is no longer at her face, her eyes are open, and her hat and dress style have been significantly altered.

 

Judging by the photo you sent, you have version #2. A mint #2 Gay ‘90s pair has an estimated value of $55-75. A #1 pair would be estimated at $45-55.  Either version is desirable, providing excellent depictions of what the Studio catalog called “a lovely, shy maid, and a dapper gent.”

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I have a salt-and-pepper set that I picked up at a garage sale. One piece is a slice of cheese. The other is a mouse, who perches inside the cheese. The cheese is stamped “Ceramic Arts Studio” on the base. Any info?

 

Waiting for A Nibble

 

Dear Waiting:

 

If you only run across one Ceramic Arts Studio duo in your life, it will probably be this one. Immediately upon its debut in 1950, the ubiquitous Mouse & Cheese became a CAS best-seller, accounting for its regular appearance on today’s secondary market. As the company catalog said when the perky little Mouse was first introduced, “housewives go for him – but not with a broom!”

 

The Mouse & Cheese pair was part of the Studio’s “snuggle set” series, with one figure designed to fit cozily inside another. Some of the Mouse & Cheese pairs were even personalized for various cheese manufacturers, and can be found with the company named stamped on the side of the cheese slab. One Studio worker recalls when a batch of the Cheeses came out green instead of yellow! Fortunately, company owner Reuben Sand was able to find a client with a sense of humor (and an open checkbook).

 

In mint condition, the estimate for a Mouse & Cheese pair would be $20-30.  Not astronomical, but it’s a pair no died-in-the-wool CAS collector would be without. In fact, as club President Hank Kuhlmann tells us elsewhere in this issue, these are his favorite CAS pieces (of course, they’re also his only CAS pieces!)

 

 

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I’m so excited! I just love circus, fair, and carnival memorabilia, and today I found a “Clown & Dog” salt and pepper set, marked “Ceramic Arts Studio”. So cute! Here’s a photo of them saying “howdy”.  Is the dog supposed to sit on the clown’s lap? I’m assuming so, but thought I’d check.

 

Clowning Around

 

Dear Clowning:

 

The Clown & Dog were designed for Ceramic Arts Studio by Betty Harrington, and were part of the salt-and-pepper “snuggle set” series. You’re right: with the “snuggle sets”, a smaller figure usually rests in the lap of the larger one, and that’s where the Dog goes. The Clown & Dog date from 1951, and a current value estimate for a pair in mint condition would be $150-190 (which should buy a lot of dog treats and red rubber noses!)

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My father had this figure of a man’s head in his barber shop as long as I can remember. Is it a vase? There’s a slot in the top, but it doesn’t seem like it would hold many flowers. And how would you empty the water? The piece will always be a part of our family’s history, so any info you can provide would be appreciated!

 

Close Shave

 

Dear Close:

 

Your figure is Tony the Barber, a razor blade bank. It was designed by Betty Harrington, and released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1951. The bank was intended to hold used razor blades. Like most of the ceramic banks of the period, there was no way to empty the bank once it was full.

 

Some former CAS employees recall that Tony was named after, and modeled to look somewhat like, the barber patronized by Betty’s husband, Al. In mint condition, Tony’s estimated current value is $75-100. More than enough for a shave and a haircut!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I always thought Ceramic Arts Studio just made figurines, but yesterday, I ran across a piece with the CAS stamp marked “Bonita Stripe”. It’s a black swirl planter, with a pink stripe in four different areas on the swirl. The pink is raised (textured), and the black is smooth. Where’s the figurine? Am I missing something?

 

Worried

 

Dear Worried:

 

No, you’re not missing anything.  The Bonita Stripe Planter is a stand-alone piece. In addition to the figurines CAS is best known for, the Studio also made a limited number of vases and planters.

 

The Bonita Stripe Bowl was designed by CAS principal designer, Betty Harrington, and released in 1955, the last year of the Studio’s operation. Its current estimated value is $75-95. There’s also a Bonita Bowl which has a mottled finish rather than the stripes, and is worth about half that. The mottled Bonita looks especially nice when displayed with the similarly-decorated African Man & Woman Plaques.

 

Betty Harrington commented at one time that the Bonitas, while visually appealing, were not very practical. If enough water is placed in one to keep a cut flower healthy, water sometimes leaks over the flat edge. However, they are certainly nice to look at!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I volunteer in a museum, and we recently received a number of items from a family estate. One was a pink Space Bowl by Ceramic Arts Studio. It’s even got the CAS “C”! What can you tell me about it?

 

Museum Miss

 

Dear Miss M:

 

Like the Bonita Bowl, the Space Bowl was designed by Betty Harrington, and dates from 1955, the Studio’s last year. Although collectible on its own, the Space Bowl was originally intended to be displayed with the complementary Stylized Rooster figurines as a three-piece console set. By itself, the Space Bowl  is valued at $100-125.

 

For your reference, the “C” is not always an indicator of a Ceramic Arts Studio piece. It just means “copyright”.  Thanks for writing!

 

 

What does that signature mean? Signing-related inquiries fill our CAS website mailbag this time around, and we diligently search for the solutions.

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I recently purchased what I believe to be a Betty Harrington pin-up figure. I found it at St. Vincent de Paul’s, where they wanted $44.99. When I asked to look at it, the woman said it had been there for so long, she offered me a price of $10, and of course I bought it. Upon taking it home, and looking closer, I discovered a signature etched into the bottom: “Betty H”. I did some digging on-line, and assumed that to mean “Betty Harrington”, especially because I noticed she did do some pin-up figures. The pin-up has a sort of blue-ish mark on her leg, and the clear glaze is cracked all over. Do I have a Harrington piece?

 

Pin-Up Purchaser

 

Dear PP:

 

Although your pin-up is an attractive gal, we can state with confidence that she is not by Betty Harrington. On the rare occasions when Betty signed a figure, it was either with “BH” or with her full name, and the signature is quite different than the one on your lady. Also, your pin-up is not in the style of any of Betty’s work. In particular, she did not use the spaghetti-ceramic technique which makes up a part of the girl’s skirt, and the overall style of the decoration is much different.  As to the actual maker, that remains unknown. Often, however, individual ceramics hobbyists, working from an existing mold, would sign their work on the base.  This figurine was probably created by one such person, rather than by a studio. Even though not by Betty Harrington, here’s hoping you’ll enjoy your pin-up for the lovely lady she is! 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I am hoping you can give me some insight into the relative value of the “Mary” figurine that I have. She does not have the CAS mark, although she was obviously made at the Studio. I inherited the piece from my grandmother, and believe her sister worked for CAS. Her name was Jean Ragatz, and the figurine is signed “Ragatz” on the bottom.

 

Does that signature influence “Mary’s” value in any way? I don’t plan to ever sell her, but would just like to satisfy my curiosity.

 

Mary’s Main Man

 

Dear MMM:

 

Mary (usually accompanied by her Lamb), was first manufactured by CAS in the mid-1940s, and was designed by Betty Harrington.  In our file of Studio personnel, Jean Ragatz is listed as a decorator. Decorators often personally signed pieces as special gifts for friends or family. Since there also seems to be a holly design on the base of your figurine,  perhaps it was a Christmas gift from Jean to your grandmother.

 

A current value estimate for Mary is $35-45. Although the decoration on your figurine is fairly standard for CAS, the signature would place it at the upper end of the value range.

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I always thought Ceramic Arts Studio just made figurines, but yesterday, I ran across a piece with the CAS stamp marked “Bonita Stripe”. It’s a black swirl planter, with a pink stripe in four different areas on the swirl. The pink is raised (textured), and the black is smooth. Where’s the figurine? Am I missing something?

 

Worried

 

Dear Worried:

 

No, you’re not missing anything.  The Bonita Stripe Planter is a stand-alone piece. In addition to the figurines CAS is best known for, the Studio also made a limited number of vases and planters.

 

The Bonita Stripe Bowl was designed by CAS principal designer, Betty Harrington, and released in 1955, the last year of the Studio’s operation. Its current estimated value is $75-95. There’s also a Bonita Bowl which has a mottled finish rather than the stripes, and is worth about half that. The mottled Bonita looks especially nice when displayed with the similarly-decorated African Man & Woman Plaques.

 

Betty Harrington commented at one time that the Bonitas, while visually appealing, were not very practical. If enough water is placed in one to keep a cut flower healthy, water sometimes leaks over the flat edge. However, they are certainly nice to look at!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I volunteer in a museum, and we recently received a number of items from a family estate. One was a pink Space Bowl by Ceramic Arts Studio. It’s even got the CAS “C”! What can you tell me about it?

 

Museum Miss

 

Dear Miss M:

 

Like the Bonita Bowl, the Space Bowl was designed by Betty Harrington, and dates from 1955, the Studio’s last year. Although collectible on its own, the Space Bowl was originally intended to be displayed with the complementary Stylized Rooster figurines as a three-piece console set. By itself, the Space Bowl  is valued at $100-125.

 

For your reference, the “C” is not always an indicator of a Ceramic Arts Studio piece. It just means “copyright”.  Thanks for writing!

 

For collectors of animal figurines, Ceramic Arts Studio offers a merry menagerie. Many of our website inquiries often ask about inhabitants of the CAS “zoo”.  Here are two of the most recent:

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My grandma had figures of a cow and a calf marked “Ceramic Arts Studio” in her collection, and my aunt had always admired them. Because of this, Grandma gave them to my aunt and her husband on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

 

Grandma recently passed on, and my aunt decided to give the figures to my young daughter. We’d certainly like to know more about them, and how best to display them.

 

Diana from Dairyland

 

Dear Diana:

 

The figures you have are the Mother Cow & Calf Snuggle Pair – the Calf  sits in the Mother Cow’s lap.  These were designed for CAS by Betty Harrington, and date from 1951. The snugglers were supposedly based on Borden’s “Elsie the Cow” character, although the CAS catalogs don’t mention this.  A current estimated value for the pair is $100-150, although a rare purple pair is valued at $200-300.

 

Diana responded “thanks so much for this information. I will put your email in the box with the figures, for my daughter to enjoy when she is older.”

 

And thank you, Diana – the personal stories behind how a CAS piece was acquired are what make life interesting! Moo-ving right along:

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My wife and I have about 2,000 sets of salt-and-pepper shakers, and recently purchased a yellow chick on a green nest marked ‘CAS’. The nest does not have holes – is it a salt dip? Also, is the pair somewhat rare?

 

S& P Maniac

 

Dear S& P:

 

The Chick & Nest were designed by Betty Harrington, and date from 1953, two years before the Studio closed. They are the smallest of the CAS “snuggle pairs”, which is probably why so few turn up today – parts were lost! The set was obviously a spring release, since the CAS catalog described the figures as a “yellow baby chick in a cozy green Easter nest”. A current value for the pair is $160-200.

 

CAS released most of its “pairs” as both figurals and S & Ps, and the other animal “snuggle sets” I’ve seen do have pour holes in each figurine. The catalog listing gives no indication as to whether the Chick & Nest figures were designed differently, so I have no way of verifying if the Nest was a salt dip, or if it came in a figural version, and one with holes. Because of the rarity of these Nests, there just aren’t enough around to examine for comparison.

 

I’ll present this question in the next issue of CAS Collectors Quarterly. Perhaps those of our members who have the Chick & Nest will be able to provide more details. Sorry I can’t give a more definitive answer at present!

 

So, how about it, gang?  If you are lucky enough to have a “Chick & Nest” pair in your collection, please examine the Nest” for pour holes, and email the results to: donaldbrian@webtv.net .  Once we have the right answer, we’ll pass it along to “S & P Maniac”, and spice up his day!

 

Some of the most frequently-asked questions that arrive at our website involve identifying a figurine as authentic CAS. How can you tell? What should you look for?  Here are two recent inquiries on the topic, and the answers:

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I am a fairly new CAS collector, mostly S & P shakers, but I am just going to start getting ride of lesser shakers to make room (and money) for CAS. It is just so much nicer!

 

I have to ask: when there are items available that look sooo much like CAS that you would swear by them, yet they have no markings . . . are they CAS?  I mean, they are CAS designs, and beautifully executed – but were all CAS items always marked, or were some not marked, because of the type of foot, or the bottom of the piece?

 

Curious Chris from Colfax

 

Dear Curious Chris:

 

This is a great (and often-asked) question! If a CAS piece had a base large enough to permit it, there is a Ceramic Arts Studio identifying inkstamp on the base. When items came in pairs, the inkstamp was often just on one of the figures.

 

However, as you noted, many CAS figurines have bases too small to accommodate a stamp. But there is always a nearly-foolproof Ceramic Arts Studio indicator: the color-coded decorator “tick marks” just inside the drain hole, on the base of every CAS piece.

 

Each CAS decorator had her own “tick mark code”, and used these to identify pieces she decorated. That way, the Head Decorator could keep track of every decorator’s work, and exercise “quality control”. The tick marks are just one, or a series, of colored dots and dashes, and, as mentioned, are always just inside, or at, the drain hole.  Even today, many former Studio decorators can immediately recall their “code”.

 

So, if there’s a “tick mark”, it’s a sure sign a piece is by Ceramic Arts Studio, even if there is no base stamp.

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I am finding little or no information concerning Betty Harrington’s signature on work she may have done at CAS or before. I have a double-spouted pitcher/vase with the name “Betty USA” on the bottom. Is this by Betty Harrington?

 

Enquiring Engle

 

Dear Enquiring:

An item signed “Betty USA” would not be by Betty Harrington. Betty’s first ceramic work was of a girl holding an incense burner, and that led directly to her work for Ceramic Arts Studio, which was mostly figural.

 

Although many CAS pieces have the inkstamp “BH” on the base, this does not mean the figure was personally hand-decorated by Betty Harrington. It is merely an indicator that the piece was her design for Ceramic Arts Studio.

 

Although some of Betty’s work after the Studio closed in 1955 was hand-signed, it was usually with her initials, or, in some cases, a script signature of her entire name.  “Betty USA” was not a Betty Harrington signature.

 

“Enquiring Engle” later responded, saying “thanks so much for the very prompt and cordial response. I have never before received such a clear and thoughtful answer to my ceramic inquiries, and am forever grateful”.

 

That’s what we like to hear!  If you have questions regarding CAS identification (or other aspects of Studio lore), just direct them to our CAS answer-man, Donald-Brian Johnson, on the club website, www.cascollectors.com.  (And, if you should happen to have any info about the marking “Betty USA”, just let us know. We’ll pass along the details to “Enquiring Engle”.)

 

It’s always a pleasure to answer an inquiry and help out a worthy cause at the same time! CAS Collectors managed to do both in this recent “Question from our Webpage”:

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I am writing on behalf of “Pig Placement Network”. Our cause is rescuing and re-homing potbellied pigs.

 

We recently received a donation of two CAS pieces. They are two pigs in light green outfits. I have found identical figurines online that are salt and pepper shakers, but the two we have do not have any shaker holes.

 

We would like to sell them to raise funds for our activities, and any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.

 

Eileen from Grass Mountain Ranch

 

Dear Eileen:

 

The figurines you have are the “Wee Piggy Boy & Girl”, designed by Betty Harrington for Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison, and released in 1950.  The “Wee Piggyswere made as both figurines and salt & peppers, which is why your figures do not have holes — they are the figurine version. Advertised in CAS catalogs as the “cutest little pink pigs you ever saw”, the estimated value today for the pair is $50-70. (S & P’s would average $65-85.  Good luck with your sale!

 

--

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I have a Mouse that Betty Harrington made for me in 1986. It is signed with her initials. What can you tell me about this toothy fellow?  I’ve named him “Mickey”.

 

Minnie from Montana

 

Dear Minnie:

 

In the years after she left Ceramic Arts Studio, Betty Harrington made many of these Mice (she referred to them as “the critters”) , and each is one-of-a-kind.  Betty began creating the Mice in about 1975, and continued doing so until very nearly the end of her life. Her usual two-piece mold contained all the pieces needed to construct any mouse-movement she wanted to portray. The difference came in the way she assembled the greenware pieces.

 

It would be impossible to document all the various Mice Betty Harrington created, but some of the best-known include a five-piece Mouse Orchestra, and the Valentine Mice. The hundreds of Mice were all produced in Betty’s apartment kitchen, the later ones fired in a kiln at the apartment complex Senior Center. Betty later confessed that she chose that complex “because they had a kiln” — and she made good use of it! A current value estimate, per Mouse, is $175-225, depending on decoration.

 

P.S. Is “Minnie” your real name?  If so, sounds like “Mickey” has found a good home!

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

In 1952 or 1953, I purchased a Ceramic Arts Studio piece marked Lotus. I’ve been told there is a mate for her.  Can you tell me about him?

 

Pat from The Villages

 

Dear Pat from The Villages:

 

Yes indeed, Lotus has a partner: that fiercely bearded fellow, Manchu. Since there are actually three CAS pairs named Lotus and Manchu, however, I would need to see photos to determine which Lotus you have. The options include: standing head vases, hanging wall planters, and standing figures holding lanterns. All were designed by the Studio’s principal designer, Betty Harrington. The head vases were released in 1950, the wall plaques in 1951, and the lantern pair in 1954.  Both head vase variations were in white with black accents, while the standing lantern figures were robed in a choice of aqua, green, pink or white.

 

Current value estimates are $150-200 for the head vases, $400-450 for the wall planters, and $80-120 for the standing figures, all priced by the pair. (Extremely lucky collectors may occasionally run across a Lunch Hour Lotus standing head vase, with multi-colored decoration, and a value of $200-250, but these are few and far between.)

 

Hope your Lotus is soon happily reunited with her companion!

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Who is this girl, and what is supposed to go in her hat?

Erica from Virginia

 

Dear Erica:

 

The name of the lady in question is Barbie, and she belongs to a line of head vases released by Ceramic Arts Studio in the early 1950s.  Head vases were very popular at the time, as a unique way of displaying flowers. In answer to the questions, that’s what goes in the hat.  The floral arrangement becomes part of the hat design.

 

Barbie, introduced in 1950 along with her girlfriends Bonnie and Becky, was designed by Betty Harrington.  She was available as a blonde, brunette, or redhead, with the hat decoration complementing the hair color.  Currently, Barbie has an estimated value of $125-150.  An authentic CAS Barbie should have the name stamped on the bottom, or a decorator tick mark. An unauthorized Japanese reproduction was also released, but these are quite a bit smaller, and the decoration is somewhat slapdash.

 

And that’s it for this issue’s “CAS Mailbag”. All answers for are provided by Donald-Brian Johnson, newsletter Editor, and co-author of “Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington”. If you have a question about a CAS piece, please send it to Don’s attention on our webpage, www.cascollectors.com

 

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My husband Jedd and I coach a FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics team in Las Vegas. Team Nemo consists on 10 students who won the regional robotics championship and are the only FLL team invited to represent Nevada and compete at the World Robotics Festival in Atlanta this April.

 

We are in the process of fundraising to pay for this trip. Many people have donated items for our yard sale and auction. We received a nice piece that is clearly marked “Ceramic Arts Studio”, but we are having a difficult time identifying it. We were hoping that you might donate a bit of your time and expertise to help Team Nemo put a reasonable price tag on this. It looks like it could be St. Francis. Do you know the name of it? It is in fine condition with no marks or cracks, and we wondered how much you think we should ask for it.  Many thanks!

 

Sarah Olsen

 

Dear Sarah:

 

Thanks for writing.  We are very happy to assist you in identifying this figurine for your fundraising effort.

The figure is called St. Francis (extended arms) and was released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1947.  It is one of several different St. Francis figures designed for CAS by the Studio's principal designer, Betty Harrington, but is the only one with extended arms.  It was available in both realistic colors, and white (the one you have.)

St. Francis is a great favorite with collectors, (and is, is fact, one of the figures shown on the back cover of our book). He’s somewhat hard to find in perfect condition, as the extended arms are often damaged.

Currently, a reasonable price estimate for a "St. Francis" is mint condition would be $175-225.

Hope the info is of help--we are always happy to assist with a worthwhile project.  Good luck with selling the figurine--and good luck to Team Nemo!

 

dbj

 

Sarah has promised to write with an update about the sale of “St Francis”, and of course the fate of Team Nemo. Incidentally, our club is now listed as a contributor to their group, and our contact info is given on their website: TeamNemo.com

 

And one more. . .

 

Sometimes we’re sent questions, but just aren’t quite sure what’s intended. (Well, we have a pretty good idea, but the wording can lead us a bit astray!)  For example, here’s the opening of a recent letter, just as received:

 

“Dear CAS Collectors: I recently was given a girl shelf-sitter.  It came from my Aunt. My Aunt is now in assisted living. She has a very clear “Ceramic Arts Studio” stamp on her bottom. . .”

 

We wrote back for a photo, but never received one.  So, we don’t know if that shelf-sitter is “Jill”, the “Cowgirl”, the “Girl with Kitten”. . . .or maybe, as the letter seems to indicate, poor old Auntie herself! (If so, hopefully wherever she is they stock ink remover!)

 

Do you have a question regarding a CAS piece (or a “possible” CAS piece)? Please use the link below to send it to Don’s attention. We’ll do our very best to come up with the right answer!

 

Honoring the memory of CAS founder Reuben Sand, we’ve selected an inquiry dealing with one of Mr. Sand’s ventures following the close of the Studio in Madison: Ceramic Arts Studio (Japan).

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I found a beautiful wall pocket with a “Ceramic Art Studio” mark on the back, and it doesn’t look like the typical mark from this company. Can you tell me if this is a fake or not? It also doesn’t have a glaze like I see all the Ceramic Art Studio pieces have. It’s beautifully done and  detailed, but I’m very confused on the mark. Your help is appreciated. I would not like to sell a piece stating that it’s by Ceramic Art Studio if it is not. Thanks!

Renee Gagliardo

 

Dear Renee:

After Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison closed in 1955, founder Reuben Sand briefly moved the company’s base of operations to Japan, in hopes of continuing the company’s production more affordably. However, as Mr. Sand explained to us, the experiment was short-lived:

“I went to Japan in 1957 and spent four and a half months there. I worked with some Japanese ceramic artists, and they were creative enough. But then when it came to producing, the manufacturers set the minimum quantities for an order, and thus created a situation that made it too large a quantity for me, as I had no sales force. In any event, they could not be sure that they would be able to give me the exclusive right for items that I had helped and paid to create. So I said goodbye.”

Some of the pieces made there were from original CAS Madison molds.  Others, like the one you have were original designs. These Ceramic Arts Studio (Japan) pieces do have a certain value to CAS collectors who like to have a comprehensive display. Your piece, “Robins on Tree Trunk Planter” is pictured on page 248 of our book, “Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington”, and has an estimated value of $35-45.  While not made by the Madison firm, it does have a charm all its own!

dbj

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My Mom had a gift shop in the late 1940s and early 50's and she sold Ceramic Arts Studio pieces. While unpacking some of her things, I came across a “Pig Bank”,  with what looks like a Ceramic Arts Studio marking. It is hard to read but this really looks like a CAS piece. The eyes on the bank resemble the eyes on the CAS Camel.

 

--Rozanne

 

Dear Rozanne:

 

Although it is difficult to say for certain without a photo, it sounds as if the pig bank you are describing is the Paisley Pig Bank, inventory #343, released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1952. The pig came in gray or amber shades, and was distinguished by an incised whorl pattern on its "skin."  The value of a Paisley Pig is $325-375.  It's pictured on page 125 of our book. Hope the info helps!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

(Rozanne later sent a photo, and the pig was indeed the CAS “Paisley Pig Bank”. She mentioned that she had even found an old photo of her mother’s gift shop, with the “Paisley Pig” visible in the showcase. Notes Rozanne, “I wonder what she would think of today’s prices, as she had quite a few CAS pieces sitting around in her house. She must have really liked them for what they were, even before they became collectibles.”)

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

We recently completed a set of the standing Harlequin & Columbine with Masks. They are unfinished--creamy colored with, rosy cheeks being the only color on the pieces.  I know the value the CAS book lists for a finished pair is $900-950 each. However, we were wondering if we should use the prices listed, or if we should lower the estimated value because they are unfinished.

 

--Donald & Greg

 

Dear Donald & Greg:

 

Thanks for writing.  Since these figures are extremely rare, the value would remain high whether finished or unfinished.  It's my personal opinion that the value would be about 25% less than a finished version, since the finish enhances their visual appeal.  That is based on estimates of finished and unfinished versions of more common pieces. However, the Harlequin & Columbine with Masks figures surface so rarely that a determined purchaser might be willing to pay the book price or above, simply to own them.  I know I'd be tempted! Congratulations on your good fortune!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

(For the majority  of us, who have yet to add the standing Harlequin & Columbine to our collections, we can check out what we have to look forward to on the front cover and page 153 of “Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington”)

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Who designed Peek & Boo? Mine are marked Ceramic Arts Studio, but they don’t look like other pieces I have by Betty Harrington.

 

--Wondering

 

Dear Wondering:

 

Those clever cats Peek and Boo, (CAS inventory #s 443 and 444), are a “snuggle set  released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1954. Although most Studio pieces were the work of resident designer Betty Harrington, Peek & Boo were designed by “Rebus” (Ulle Cohen).  Rebus specialized in animal figures, often modernistic is their lines, and a series of his works was released by CAS in the early 1950s.  Currently, the estimated value for the figures is $70-90 each.  Hope the info helps!

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

 

Dear CAS COLLECTORS:

 

We were wondering if there is any information or photos about the early CAS hand-turned ware. We found a small hand thrown pitcher made of red clay that we originally thought was produced by a southern pottery, but once we got it home under good light and a magnifying glass, it appears to be marked Ceramic Arts. We read a lead in Mike Schneider's text about there having been hand- thrown early pieces, and looking at the mark shown, it very much looks like that mark. The piece measures 3 1/2 inches tall. Do the colors seem consistent with the hand-turned ware known to exist?

 

I'm attaching photos, in hopes that someone affiliated with your association might have some information or insight.  I have included a quarter in one photo to indicate relative size. I truly appreciate your time!

 

Brenda

 

-

Dear Brenda:

 

Thank you for your inquiry.  Your information was correct:  Ceramic Arts Studio did turn out hand-thrown ware, such as pitchers, vases, tumblers, etc., when the Studio opened in 1940. Shortly after Betty Harrington joined the Studio in late 1941, CAS began specializing almost completely in the decorative figurines it became known for.

 

Although the particular piece you have is not shown in our new book, "Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington", my assumption would be that is was created by  William Hallberg, an early Studio artisan, circa 1942.  Pitchers were a Hallberg specialty (although usually wide-topped "Quaker Pitchers"), and the glaze is consistent with that of similar Hallberg pieces.  The black inkstamp marking on the bottom of a Hallberg piece shown on page 20 of our book reads "Ceramic Arts Studio, Madison, WI, Hand Made" followed by the initials "WH".  (Sometimes the initials were not included, or "WI" was written as "Wis".)  The "Ceramic Arts Studio" name was arched above the rest of the stamped info, as in the illustration you sent of your pitcher.  Perhaps now that you have the rest of the info that usually appeared on the base, you will be able to decipher the portions of the stamp that you mentioned were somewhat illegible.

 

Since we do not show this particular piece in the book, I do not have an exact valuation for it. However, we value an 8” Hallberg “Quaker Pitcher and Tumbler” set at $350-450, and various Hallberg pots at $110-175. If by Hallberg, I would estimate a 3-1/2” pitcher such as yours at the high end of the $110-175 range, as the shape is somewhat unique.

 

Of course, that is only an estimate, and actual value would depend on buyer interest.  I do know that many CAS collectors like to have an early piece or two, so as to round out their collection of the company's work.

 

Hope the info helps, and happy collecting!

 

CAS COLLECTORS

 

(Followup: Brenda re-checked the inkstamp on the base of her pitcher and it is, indeed, by Hallberg—a wonderful find!))

 

ON THE MARK. . .

 

If there's no stamp on the base, can it really be CAS?  Here's a recent question-and-answer from our webpage:

 

Dear "CAS Collectors":

 

I recently received the Ox & Wagon shakers.  The Wagon is marked CAS, but the Ox isn't.  The Ox looks exactly like the one in the book, but there's no marking. Do you know if it's authentic? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!

                                                                        "Wondering"

 

Dear "Wondering":

 

Sometimes, only one piece of a CAS set was marked, particularly if there was no space available on one for an inkstamp.  If your Ox looks like the one in the book, chances are very good that it is by Ceramic Arts Studio.  We have not seen any exact imitations of this particular figurine.  The fact that it is paired with a marked Wagon is also a good sign of its authenticity.

 

The Ox (CAS # A 85) and the Wagon (CAS # A 86) were designed by CAS principal designer Betty Harrington, and copyright 1953.  The Ox is currently valued at $75-100, the Wagon at $25-35.  The Ox has a higher value, since it is difficult to find one in perfect condition, still in

possession of its horns.  Hope yours has them!

 

Thanks for writing, and hope the info helps!

                                                                      CAS Collectors

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I recently acquired the piece (candy or nut dish/chip n' dip/condiment tray???) shown, because I thought it was interesting, and am now trying to determine the manufacturer.  The manufacturer's mark seems to read cas. c. 2703 U.S.A.  I thought perhaps the c.a.s. meant Ceramic Arts Studio.  Do you know

if they ever produced pieces like this? Everything I seem to find indicates they did not.  Any assistance or insight you may choose to provide will be appreciated. Thanks in advance—

 

--Bob

 

Dear Bob:

 

Thank you for your inquiry.  The dish in the photo was not a part of the CAS inventory.  The only dishes of a similar size produced by Ceramic Arts Studio, were the "Pixie Shield Bowls", which had a pixie on them, and were not divided.  Also, Ceramic Arts Studio used an ink stamp mark with the complete name written out, rather than the incised mark on your dish.  Some very early hand-thrown pieces had incised marks, but these were not similar in any way to your piece. I'm not sure what the marking on your dish stands for--wish I could be of more help.  However, I am confident it was not made by the Studio.

Thank you for writing!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I'm the assistant manager at the St. Vincent de Paul store in Prairie du Sac, WI and we've come upon an interesting piece.  We believe that it is by CAS, but it doesn't have any markings on the bottom.  The figure is dressed in a sombrero and a poncho, leaning against  a bowl or pot. The sombrero covers the head completely, and the bowl reads "ESA'S FIESTA MADISON 1950". I measured the figure as well, and it sits about 2 5/8 inches tall, about 3 3/4 inches long, and about 2 inches across the top of the bowl.    It appears to have the same look as other CAS pieces that we've had before. Any information you might be able to provide us with would be fantastic.

 

--Jarrod Vande Hey

 

Dear Jarrod:

 

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the Mexican figurine. Ceramic Arts Studio produced three Mexican boy figures: one seated, holding a guitar; one a shelf-sitter with crossed legs; and one standing next to a cactus. Unfortunately, your figure is not one of these. The piece is quite interesting, particularly since it was made in Madison, but it does not resemble anything made by Ceramic Arts Studio, either commercially, or as an experiment. CAS released very few combination figurine/vessels, and none in shapes resembling this one. Additionally CAS designer Betty Harrington favored a much more realistic, detailed look in figurine design, particularly those in foreign costume.

 

I will include a photo in “CAS Collectors Quarterly”, and perhaps one of our readers, many of whom live in the Madison area, might be able to provide more details.  Thanks for writing, and sorry I could not be of more help!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

I have just come into a piece marked in black “Ceramic Arts Studio, Madison, WIS.” and the name “Burmese Chinthe” on the bottom of it.  This piece is in mint condition, and I am wondering how old and what the value of this item is.

 

--Wondering

 

Dear Wondering:

 

The "Burmese Chinthe" was an accompanying piece for the "Burmese Man & Woman", released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1953.  It is CAS inventory number 399, and was available in brown and green.  The "Chinthe" was designed by CAS principal designer Betty Harrington, and was described in the CAS catalogs as an "authentically styled Temple Guardian".  Because of its rarity,  we estimate the value of a "Chinthe" at $175-200.  Hope the info helps!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors

 

(Regarding the “Chinthe” the info did prove helpful—the owner was able to sell it on eBay for more than the estimate!)

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

My Mom had a gift shop in the late 1940s and early 50's and she sold Ceramic Arts Studio pieces. While unpacking some of her things, I came across a “Pig Bank”,  with what looks like a Ceramic Arts Studio marking. It is hard to read but this really looks like a CAS piece. The eyes on the bank resemble the eyes on the CAS Camel.

 

--Rozanne

 

Dear Rozanne:

 

Although it is difficult to say for certain without a photo, it sounds as if the pig bank you are describing is the Paisley Pig Bank, inventory #343, released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1952. The pig came in gray or amber shades, and was distinguished by an incised whorl pattern on its "skin."  The value of a Paisley Pig is $325-375.  It's pictured on page 125 of our book. Hope the info helps!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

(Rozanne later sent a photo, and the pig was indeed the CAS “Paisley Pig Bank”. She mentioned that she had even found an old photo of her mother’s gift shop, with the “Paisley Pig” visible in the showcase. Notes Rozanne, “I wonder what she would think of today’s prices, as she had quite a few CAS pieces sitting around in her house. She must have really liked them for what they were, even before they became collectibles.”)

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

We recently completed a set of the standing Harlequin & Columbine with Masks. They are unfinished--creamy colored with, rosy cheeks being the only color on the pieces.  I know the value the CAS book lists for a finished pair is $900-950 each. However, we were wondering if we should use the prices listed, or if we should lower the estimated value because they are unfinished.

 

--Donald & Greg

 

 

Dear Donald & Greg:

 

Thanks for writing.  Since these figures are extremely rare, the value would remain high whether finished or unfinished.  It's my personal opinion that the value would be about 25% less than a finished version, since the finish enhances their visual appeal.  That is based on estimates of finished and unfinished versions of more common pieces. However, the Harlequin & Columbine with Masks figures surface so rarely that a determined purchaser might be willing to pay the book price or above, simply to own them.  I know I'd be tempted! Congratulations on your good fortune!

 

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

(For the majority  of us, who have yet to add the standing Harlequin & Columbine to our collections, we can check out what we have to look forward to on the front cover and page 153 of “Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington”)

 

--

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Who designed Peek & Boo? Mine are marked Ceramic Arts Studio, but they don’t look like other pieces I have by Betty Harrington.

 

--Wondering

 

Dear Wondering:

 

Those clever cats Peek and Boo, (CAS inventory #s 443 and 444), are a “snuggle set  released by Ceramic Arts Studio in 1954. Although most Studio pieces were the work of resident designer Betty Harrington, Peek & Boo were designed by “Rebus” (Ulle Cohen).  Rebus specialized in animal figures, often modernistic is their lines, and a series of his works was released by CAS in the early 1950s.  Currently, the estimated value for the figures is $70-90 each.  Hope the info helps!

DBJ for “CAS Collectors”

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Can you tell me who this figure is?  He seems to be climbing up something, and I’ve been told he was made by Ceramic Arts Studio of Madison, but that’s all I know. Here’s a photo. Can you fill in the blanks?

 

Kathy from Kentucky

 

Dear Kathy from Kentucky:

 

You’re in luck!  This little guy is the CAS Jack in the Beanstalk, designed by the Studio’s principal designer Betty Harrington, and released in 1955, the last year Ceramic Arts Studio was in operation.  In mint condition, Jack is valued at $360-400.

 

Jack is valuable because he was produced in limited quantities.  However, as he was "cold-painted", (that is, the painting was not done before the piece was fired), he is often found with some peeling paint, as is the case with your example.  This can easily be repaired by a professional, which will enhance both the visual appeal and monetary value of the figure.  If selling, you would of course want to note that Jack has been restored. If you would be selling him in his current condition, you would want to take that into consideration in your asking price.

 

If you plan on keeping Jack, you will want to be on the lookout for his Beanstalk. This metal ladder-like frame was manufactured by Jon-San Creations, a companion firm to Ceramic Arts Studio, also owned by CAS founder Reuben Sand.  When found, Jack’s Beanstalk is valued at $125-150.

 

Q & A FOLLOWUP: After receiving the info on “Jack”, Kathy from Kentucky wrote us back, saying:

 

“I have listed ‘Jack’ on ebay just as he is, as I did not want to change him from his original being.  I have just begun to get into collecting Ceramic Arts Studio pieces, and find it so fascinating! I was absolutely thrilled when I found ‘Jack’ -- it has made me dig into the antique books and be more aware of what I see at auctions and flea markets. I found ‘Jack’ at a flea market and something just told me to pick him up.  I am so glad I did!

 

(Some folks have all the luck!)

 

--

 

 

Dear CAS Collectors:

 

Can you tell me something about this little vase?  It has some sort of bird on it.  My parents were originally from Wisconsin, and my mother gave this to me years ago. Thanks!

 

Ed from Oregon

 

Dear Ed from Oregon:

 

It looks like a vase, but what you actually have is the Swan Teapot, shown on page 101 of our book, Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington. The Swan Teapot was part of a “Miniature Vases” series released by the Studio in 1950.  Designer Betty Harrington came up with the idea after attending a trade show.  Next to the CAS booth was one assigned to “Miss Myrtle Munson of Indianapolis, Indiana”.  Miss Munson made miniature paper flowers, but could never find just the right containers to put them in. Betty came up with the idea of miniature vases and other small vessels, a perfect size for the tiny flowers. The Swan Teapot, done in a Wedgwood bisque style, is just three inches high. In addition to bisque, other containers in the series were made with glazed finishes, some with painted detail, others with bas relief decoration.

 

Because the miniatures were so labor-intensive, few are seen in circulation today. Current value of the Swan Teapot is $60-75 – a great price for such a tiny item!

 

(As always, website questions are answered Donald-Brian Johnson – when he knows the answer, that is!  If you have a CAS question, just direct it to Don’s attention on the club website, mailto:djohnson@cascollectors.com, and he’ll give it his best shot!)