The information presented here has been taken from the RWCS Newsletter Introduction to Dinnerware article series. Below is a brief summary of the early patterns by Red Wing.
Each pattern has been assigned an Availability rating and a Collector Interest rating as described below. Availability represents an average for the pattern in question, however the scarcity of certain pieces within the pattern may differ. Collector Interest refers to the pattern in general, but there may be specific pieces in any pattern that are of greater interest to specialty collectors (teapots, pitchers, salt & peppers, etc). Please keep in mind these ratings are the authors’ observations; your experience may vary.
AVAILABILITY COLLECTOR INTEREST
1 Rare 1 Highly sought, demand exceeds supply
2 Very scarce 2 Primarily of interest to specialty collectors
3 Hard to find 3 Above average
4 Average 4 Average
5 Readily available 5 Below average
The Full Article includes where the information was found, availability and collector interest for the patterns.
Availability: 2 Interest: 1 Years: Unknown (1930s)
Red Wing dinnerware production began in the mid-1930s. The first pattern produced is most likely the one known to collectors as Wreath. No documentation of this rare pattern has been found, so we cannot confirm production dates or even its official name. But several pieces marked with a blue Red Wing Potteries ink stamp have been found. This mark is also found on early Blue, Black, and Blue-Green Gypsy Trail coffee servers, which leads us to believe Wreath predates Gypsy Trail. This theory is further supported by several Wreath pieces glazed in bright Gypsy Trail colors. Standard Wreath colors are Ivory, Light Yellow and Light Green.
Ivanhoe – 1937
Availability: 2 Interest: 1 Years: 1937
The February 1937 issue of “Crockery and Glass Journal” included an announcement for the new Ivanhoe dinnerware pattern sold by RumRill Pottery Co. Ivanhoe was made by Red Wing but sold exclusively by the RumRill Pottery Co, owned by George RumRill. This ad is the only known documentation for Ivanhoe. The announcement stated Ivanhoe has “a matt glaze finish in ivory, suntan, Alpine blue and ocean green”. Ivanhoe pieces feature a raised laurel pattern around the rims, are not marked, and are often not recognized as being made by Red Wing. Not long after the introduction of Ivanhoe a dispute arose between George RumRill and Red Wing Potteries, and their partnership soon ended. The remaining unglazed Ivanhoe pieces were glazed with Gypsy Trail colors.
Gypsy Trail Line – 1935
A brochure dated June 1935 introduced the Gypsy Trail line. This brochure included 19 items, most of which would later be part of the Reed pattern but at this point were simply called “Gypsy Trail”. An updated brochure in September 1935 added 15 more pieces. The colors available at this time were White, Yellow, Turquoise, Blue and Orange. These colors continued to be available for the duration of Gypsy Trail production. Two additional colors, Black and Blue Green, were available for only the 565 Coffee Server. The Reed Mixing Bowl was also available in Mulberry. These three colors only appeared in this 1935 brochure.
An undated brochure (probably from 1936) introduced many more items, including the Chevron pattern. All items that were not Chevron continued to be called Gypsy Trail, with some items identified as Plain or Reed. This brochure was printed in two versions, identical except for the company name. One version had the Red Wing Potteries name, the other stated “Rum Rill Pottery Company, Little Rock, Arkansas”. George RumRill partnered with Red Wing and introduced new designs and glazes. Today he is better known for his work with art pottery but also had an influence on the development of Red Wing dinnerware. In exchange for his expertise, RumRill was allowed to market Gypsy Trail in parts of the country outside Red Wing’s usual distribution area.
The January 1939 issue of “Crockery and Glass Journal” had a full page ad for Fondoso, “the new member of the Gypsy Trail Hostess Ware family.” An undated brochure, likely from the same time period, divided all Gypsy Trail pieces into four distinct patterns: Reed, Plain, Chevron and Fondoso. This brochure was used by existing Red Wing reference books to define the Gypsy Trail line. However, this brochure was merely a snapshot of the Gypsy Trail line at that particular time, thus many collectors see only part of the Gypsy Trail story. The ad and the brochure both made clear the Fondoso design was copyrighted, and the copyright mark can be found on many Fondoso pieces themselves. This may have been because of concerns about the broken partnership with George RumRill. Fondoso was designed by Belle Kogan, a well-known designer who developed many art pottery designs for Red Wing but also worked on several dinnerware designs over the years.
Markings: Most early Gypsy Trail pieces were not marked. Quite likely this was because of the co-marketing agreement with RumRill, who would not want his wares marked with the Red Wing name. Most marked Reed, Plain and Chevron pieces likely were formed by molds created after the end of the partnership with RumRill. Early marked pieces had simply “RED WING” on the bottom. Later pieces were marked “RED WING USA” along with the shape number from the Gypsy Trail catalog. The three digit number is similar to the shape numbers used on art pottery, causing some collectors to believe these dinnerware items were from the art pottery lines. There were 3 art pottery items which had Fondoso markings, but were not dinnerware. These 3 items were candleholders and 2 bowls.
Colors: Although specific colors were associated with specific patterns in the price lists and brochures, any Gypsy Trail item may be found in any of the colors. There were 30 colors listed but some may be different names for the same color at different times in the life of the line.
Resources: Collectors will discover that there is no single resource or reference book that will include all of the individual Gypsy Trail items shown in the Red Wing Brochures and Price Guides. There were at least 189 individual items in the line and that count does not include the different sizes listed for many of the items such as plates, pitchers, and bowls. A Gypsy Trail collection is never completed, and that is what makes it such fun to collect.
Availability: 4 Interest: 3 Years: 1935 – post WWII
Reed items had vertical ribs on the exterior of most pieces. For plates, the ribbed effect was found around the outer rim. For other items, the ribbed effect was on the outside of the piece. Reed was available in the five standard Gypsy Trail “bright” colors: White, Blue, Yellow, Turquoise and Orange. Some mixing bowls were also available in Russet (brown) and Mulberry. The pastel colors introduced with Fondoso may rarely be found on Reed pieces.
Availability: 4 Interest: 3 Years: 1935 – post WWII
The name says it all. Some Plain items had swirls or a trim line, but most were smooth. There was not a consistent design that could be used to identify Plain pieces. An unusual aspect of Plain was the lack of plates; there were platters, divided grill platters, and a sandwich tray but no plates. Plain was available in the five standard Gypsy Trail “bright” colors: White, Blue, Yellow, Turquoise and Orange. The pastel colors introduced with Fondoso may rarely be found on Plain pieces.
Availability: 3 Interest: 3 Years: 1936 – approx 1940
Zigzag lines (chevrons) around the rims identified pieces from the Chevron pattern. Some non-collectors describe it as rickrack. Chevron was available in the five standard Gypsy Trail “bright” colors: White, Blue, Yellow, Turquoise and Orange. The pastel colors introduced with Fondoso may rarely be found on Chevron pieces. Chevron was discontinued shortly after the introduction of Fondoso and did not appear in the 1940 price lists.
Availability: 4 Interest: 3 Years: 1939 – approx 1942
Fondoso pieces had a raised art deco leaf design. The design was found on the exterior of hollowware and around the rim for flatware. Fondoso was available in several newly introduced colors (Powder Blue , Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Pastel Pink, Pastel Yellow) as well as four of the Gypsy Trail bright colors (Blue, Yellow, Turquoise and Orange). Fondoso mixing bowls were available in Russet (brown).
By 1940 Gypsy Trail Hostess Ware became the name used on company catalogues to represent the entire line, which continued to expand in the ensuing years. New items that did not belong to any of the four patterns were added, intended to be accessories that could be used with any of the patterns or on their own. Metals for consumer use were scarce during World War II; to fill the void Red Wing developed a wide and colorful variety of pottery substitutes shaped in art deco, fruit and figural designs. The items included casseroles, bowls, cookie jars, marmalade jars, pitchers, teapots, canister sets, dripolators, butter dishes, juicer, bakers, ice tub and even a watering can. During this period items that did not sell well were promptly dropped and replaced by something new. The well-known Chef, Katrina and Friar cookie jars were introduced as Gypsy Trail Hostess items in 1941. During the war years the four distinct dinnerware patterns faded and most pieces from those patterns were dropped. All remaining items were marketed under the Gypsy Trail Hostess Ware name. The last known Gypsy Trail catalog was dated January 1944, and with the end of World War II came the end of production for most Gypsy Trail pieces.