One of the categories of antiques that has the most relevance to people is china (or pottery). There’s a good chance that, even if you don’t collect antiques, you might have wondered what those marks meant on the back of the plate or the bottom of the vase you own. You might even have wondered if it was worth anything.
For the more than 20 years that I have been involved with antiques, first by selling them in my shop, and now by doing appraisals, I have come across a lot of utilitarian pottery. There isn’t a farm auction or antique show that doesn’t have several examples. I have come to appreciate their simple lines and modest beauty.
You know the kind I mean. Our grandmothers made pickles or sauerkraut in large earthenware crocks. My own mother made dandelion wine and potato champagne in her large crocks – I kid you not! Both were disgusting. Ugh!
My favorite piece is the bean pot. I love bright red ones but the brown ones are more commonly available. It’s easy to imagine these large pots having pride of place in the center of a farmhouse table surrounded by people with hearty appetites.
In Alberta, the company that is best known for producing these wares is Medalta Potteries. I was telling my Antiques 101 class about Medalta Pottery and one of the participants googled Medalta as I spoke. She shared the information she came across with the rest of the class.
According to the Medalta site: “In 1928, during an interview with Maclean’s Magazine, he (MEDALTA Manager Charles Pratt) promised that if a piece of Medalta pottery or stoneware wore out before 3,000 years had passed, it could be returned for a refund of the original purchase price.”
You have to admit that it takes a pretty confident business person to make that kind of statement, and Pratt had no way of knowing that the refund of the original purchase price might not even buy a quart of milk a scant 87 years later.
You can tour the historic Medalta Pottery in Medicine Hat. I was there a few years back and found it extremely fascinating. I’m sure you’ll sleep easier tonight knowing that, if you own any Medalta, that you have until 5012 before your warranty runs out.
Visit their web site at Medalta Potteries.