Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Two “Minnesota Market Warriors” scout out antiques in Red Wing May 21, 2013

Part of an edited painting depicting Red Wing inside Pottery Place.

Part of an edited painting depicting Red Wing, inside Pottery Place.

RED WING, MINNESOTA. It’s a Mississippi River town synonymous with shoes and pottery. And antiques.

The sprawling Pottery Place complex.

The sprawling Pottery Place complex.

On a day trip here this past winter, my husband and I shopped at Pottery Place Historic Center, the old Red Wing Pottery factory which today houses antiques and specialty shops, eateries and a pottery museum.

An antique store display of Red Wing pottery, I assume. It was too high to reach.

An antique store display of Red Wing pottery, I assume. It was too high to reach.

Because we were only in town for a few hours, part of that time at a park watching for eagles, we toured just a minuscule section of Pottery Place. You could easily spend half a day here. Truly. Randy and I didn’t even get downtown except to drive through on our way to Covill Park.

One of our more unique finds, a souvenir Minnesota-shaped ashtray.

One of my more unique finds, a souvenir Minnesota-shaped ashtray displayed on a plate.

Now we don’t necessarily buy a lot of antiques or collectibles at antique stores, preferring to find ours at garage and yard sales or thrift stores. But that doesn’t stop us from window shopping, or scouting for others.

I had no clue what this was, but Randy identified it as an egg scale.

I had no clue what this was, but Randy identified it as an egg scale. If I would have looked a little closer…

You might call us “Minnesota Market Warriors,” referencing the public television show by that name, minus the “Minnesota.” The five cast members search for merchandise at flea markets with those items then sold at auction. It’s a competition. But, for the viewer, the show also presents history and market lessons.

On this particular Saturday, Randy would have won the competition. He found a Watt Ware pitcher stamped REDWOOD COUNTY, Farm Bureau Service Co., WABASSO, MINNESOTA. Score. Several extended family members collect Watt Ware from Redwood County, my home county.

The Watt ware pitcher from Wabasso which we purchased on behalf of extended family.

The Watt Ware pitcher from Wabasso which we purchased on behalf of extended family.

Not being able to afford this pitcher ourselves, we called the potential buyers and were given the go ahead to purchase the piece, marked 20 percent off if paid for via cash or a check. After locating an ATM, the purchase was made.

Now, if we had been thinking, we would have auctioned off the pitcher to the highest bidder or charged a finder’s fee. But turns out one of the family members owns the exact same pitcher, gifted to her by our mother.

Jokingly, I told her, “OK, then, $XXX will be deducted from your inheritance.”

Yeah, just call me Miller Gaffney, the persistent Market Warriors Southerner who always haggles for a bargain and holds her purse strings tight.

#

BONUS PHOTOS from Pottery Place:

The sign which adorns this historic building.

Love this Pottery Place sign.

A hallway inside Pottery Place.

A hallway on the first floor of Pottery Place.

One of the first things I spotted inside an entry, this lovely water feature around the corner from the Red Wing cityscape painting above.

One of the first things I spotted inside an entry, this lovely water feature around the corner from the Red Wing cityscape painting above.

Lovely spice jars and salt-and-pepper shakers all neat and tidy in rows.

Lovely spice jars and salt-and-pepper shakers all neat and tidy in rows in an antique shop.

The two antique shops we visited, Pottery Place Antiques and 3rd Floor Antiques, were on the second and third floors.

The two antique shops we visited, Pottery Place Antiques and 3rd Floor Antiques, were on the second and third floors, up that stairway.

I was a little freaked when I encountered this fur among the vintage hats.

I was a little freaked when I encountered this fur among the vintage hats.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

All of the above images have been edited, some with a “cartoon” application to create a yesteryear appearance.

 

21 Responses to “Two “Minnesota Market Warriors” scout out antiques in Red Wing”

  1. Amy Says:

    I do love Red Wing pottery! There once was a bowl that was perfect for making pancakes, elegantly crafted, beautiful in its design, filled with many colorful speckles on a beige background. Yes, I wanted this bowl. But alas, it wasn’t mine. It was in a cabin, next door to my great-aunt and uncle’s house, that no one had stayed in for at least 15 (!) years! I even took the time to go on the internet and look up prices of similar bowls….at least $60….wouldn’t cut it on a single household still in school budget. My sister noticed how much I envied the bowl….I mean who would know? The mayonnaise in the cupboard had expired 5 years prior….would anyone notice?! As an aspiring pastor’s wife, I couldn’t in good conscience leave with the bowl. My sister and I had this conversation: Me, “This is a great bowl.” Her, “Do you want it?” Me, “Yes. But I can’t take it.” Her, “I could.” Me, “I can’t tell you to do that.” Her, “You don’t have to.” Me, “Do what you want, just don’t tell me what you do.” You can likely see this kind of conversation happening between sisters!

    So we left vacation, I had a hunch what she did, but didn’t ask. Don’t ask, don’t tell, right?! She packed her things to come to my house for Christmas that year and brought the bowl along. She went to get it from her bag to make pancakes one morning. She opened her bag and all I heard was, “Ah man! It broke!” And there was the beautiful bowl….in about 5 large pieces, with slivers all over, unable to be mended. I guess I wasn’t supposed to have that bowl after all…..but if I find one like it one day, I will do all I can to purchase it!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      What a story. Someday I bet you will have your bowl. You were right not to take that bowl. Now as for your sister, she may just have learned a little lesson from this, right?

  2. I love that place, as I’ve told you before! We have two huge Red Wing jugs – Colin’s uncle used to make wine in them. I don’t know what they’re worth, but I ought to check into it!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, I recall how much you love this place. And those jugs, lucky you to own them.

      • I just did a little research – I like them, yes, but golly! I might be able to fix the AC in my car if I sell them!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Hmmmmm. Best check with the husband first given they came from “his family.” Worth a lot then, huh?

      • OH, I’m sure we’ll keep them! And obviously I’d never know an exact price unless someone actually looked at them, but yes, for the pair, it looks like rather impressive numbers.

  3. Loved exploring Red Wing growing up and the Pottery Place was one of the must stops too:) Neat to see an egg scale. One room in our farmhouse was a candling area for eggs – the walls were written all over with dates and numbers of eggs for that day – wish I was older because I would have taken a picture. I love the shape of MN – very distinctive! Happy Tuesday:)

  4. Oh, I’ve been to that Pottery Place (not for a long time, though) and love wandering around in there. There’s something about the Red Wing pottery vases from pre-1940 that makes me want to run my fingers over them. There’s a certain sheen, a certain “softness”, that I really love. My mom had a cream-colored vase that was a gift to her at one of the jobs she had early in her marriage (that would have been the late ’30s or early ’40s) that had that feel. Alas, I broke it. I have never been able to find another quite like it. It did, however, ignite a period in which I collected Red Wing vases and I ended up with some really cool ones. I don’t collect them anymore, but still enjoy the ones I acquired.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, it is the memories we attach, or the family histories, which make a piece a collectible to a certain individual. I can only imagine your dismay when you broke that vase.

  5. bev walker Says:

    That “fur thing” with a fox face reminds me of when I was a youngster in church and sitting behind a well-to-do lady with one of those “fur things”. It SCARED me to death!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, my, now that you mention it, I have faint memories of a “fur thing” worn in church, too.

  6. lanae Says:

    I assume that the Wabasso pitcher was not bought for me. Which leaves our brother–that brat. I may have to do a ransom note. AGAIN. I loved the hats. Wish I had gone with you.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      If you did not get a phone call from me seeking funds to purchase the Wabasso pitcher, then, yes, it would be our middle brother who benefited from our scouting.

      I thought of you when I saw those hats… Maybe next day trip we will ask you to accompany us. But only if you promise to behave. And that would be tough for you to do. Love you, sister!

  7. Laurie Says:

    Looks like I need to add Red Wing to my travel list — we have quite a few Red Wing items here at Minnesota’s Machinery Museum and it does bring back fond memories for many – we recently acquired some vintage clothing from a family that includes some of those furs — I’m glad we didn’t have anyone at our church wear them — I am still working on how to display them — let alone touch them – but it will be very interesting – hopefully they won’t scare too many (me included)!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      What a wonderful gift to receive from a family. You should have a fashion show as part of some other event at your museum. Wouldn’t that be fun? Maybe not “allowable” with museum donations, but I’d like to see more museum items showcased in that sort of way than simply exhibited. I’m not referencing your museum specifically, just making a general observation/comment.

  8. Glad you had a great time at Pottery Place. Since you have a passion for Red Wing Pottery, I would like to invite you to the Red Wing Collectors Society Convention coming up in Red Wing, MN July 11-13. Here is a link to our event site to learn more. http://www.redwingcollectors.org/rwcs-calendar-of-events/annual-convention/about-the-event

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Stacy, thank you so much for the invitation and for sharing that info about the upcoming Red Wing Collectors Society Convention. Readers, take note.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.