Pierre the Chef cookie jar

My husband’s mother gave him a Red Wing’s cookie jar serial #’s D-130,328 D-130,329 & D-130,320 appear on the bottom. It’s a yellow glazed "rolly-polly" chef 11" tall and 7" wide at the middle. I am one to actually use unique items and want to tell people about it but don’t have a clue it’s history other than finding this web site. More importantly, I have high energetic young boys. Is this item valued to the point I should pack it away until they get past the destructive stage :) No chips on the jar. I can see small dark spots underneath where the glaze has tiny cracks. Please inform us on this when you have a moment. Your time will be appreciated. Mary

Answer: Pierre the Chef is the name of your cookie jar.

Pierre was introduced by Red Wing in 1941, along with his friends Katrina the Dutch girl and Friar Tuck. Price lists from 1942, 1943 and 1944 show them as being available in blue, yellow, and tan colors. An undated brochure, probably from the mid to late 1940s adds green as an available color. These three cookie jars were great sellers for Red Wing. Many thousands of them were made and production continued into the mid 1950s.

The oldest jars are stamped "Red Wing Pottery" across a stylized wing in bluish-black ink on the bottom, along with three patent numbers. These are the number you described. Jars made a bit later do not include the patent numbers. The Chef Pierre cookie jar was introduced in 1941 and was produced into the mid 1950s. Jars that are marked with the three patent numbers were made early in production. I’m not certain how long the patent numbers were applied but it is safe to say such jars were made in the early 1940s. Eventually (around 1950) the ink stamp was omitted and only "Red Wing USA" appears on the bottom, imparted by the mold that formed the piece.

While these cookie jars are not at all rare, jars in excellent condition are not easy to find in any color. After years of use (often by the small hands of children more interested in the contents than the jar), these jars are usually chipped or cracked and have grease stains. Yellow is the most common color; a yellow chef cookie jar in excellent condition would be worth around $50 to $75. Tan and blue jars go for $75-100 today, while green jars are not easily found and will sell for several hundred dollars. Chips, cracks and staining reduce the value significantly. The name for the tiny cracks you mentioned is crazing. Crazing consists of minute cracks in the glaze that allow grease from the cookies to seep in through the glaze and into the clay. This is a common problem with these cookie jars.