Red Wing, MN – Fads come and go and interests often fade away, so it’s no surprise that very few collectors’ clubs have been around for 40 years. The Red Wing Collectors Society (RWCS), however, bucks the trend. The organization will mark its 40th Annual Convention “Ruby Red Wing” when more than 1000 members assemble in Red Wing during the week of July 4th. The 2016 Convention will kick off a year of celebration, as the club’s 40th anniversary will be recognized in 2017.
RWCS President Larry Birks attributes the club’s long-term success to Red Wing’s diverse product lines and the strong bonds that RWCS members share.
“The stoneware and pottery companies of Red Wing made such a wide variety of wares between 1877 and 1967 that they appeal to collectors of completely different periods,” Birks says. “Whether a person gravitates to country primitives, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco or Mid-Century Modern, Red Wing made it. And as we say, the stoneware and pottery is what first brings collectors to Red Wing and the RWCS, but the camaraderie, friendships and the beautiful City of Red Wing are what keeps them coming back.”
Like most antique collecting clubs, attracting young new collectors has been a challenge for the RWCS. A bright spot in the organizations recruiting efforts has come through the RWCS Facebook Chapter, which is a highly active page where recent finds are shared, questions are answered and pieces are bought and sold by new and advanced collectors alike. To join the conversation, visit www.facebook.com/groups/RWCSChapter/.
The RWCS Convention will unofficially begin on Wednesday, July 6 when the RWCS Foundation holds its “Wine-ing for Red Wing” fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing at 240 Harrison Street, Red Wing. Admission for the fundraising event is $20; it will feature food and beverages, silent and live auctions and live music by local Red Wing band Flatt and Square.
The RWCS Convention officially kicks off the next day with a welcome from the city’s mayor and a keynote presentation on the earthenware made in Whitewater, WI, which predates Red Wing’s earliest salt glaze stoneware by about 20 years. The official RWCS members-only auction, which features more than 250 pieces consigned by members, will take place in the Red Wing High School gym at 4:30 that evening.
RWCS members will also have their lineup of usual favorites to attend during Convention, including street sales held at Red Wing’s historic Pottery Place, auctions held on Tuesday and Wednesday, educational seminars and the official RWCS Show & Sale at Red Wing High School that begins for members at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 9. It opens FREE to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
In addition to these activities, the 5th annual Crock Fest celebration will feature music, food and fun from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8 at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing.In addition to its regular displays, the museum will introduce its “General Store” seasonal exhibit to collectors for the first time.
Other Convention activities include a “Crock Hunt” scavenger hunt around Red Wing, the opportunity to create a piece of pottery with local potter Richard Spiller, and a special display room at Red Wing High School where members create their own unique displays of Red Wing items for the education and enjoyment of attendees.
An annual commemorative will be unveiled and distributed to members beginning Thursday, July 7. The commemorative piece is a closely guarded secret and there is much speculation as to what the piece will be each year. It is a miniature replica of a Red Wing pottery item with a limited number made. Last year’s commemorative was a stoneware canteen.
The breakout education sessions scheduled for Friday, July 8 at Red Wing High School will offer some of the most diverse topics in quite some time. The presentations are listed below; check out the “Education Seminars” page on the Convention section of the RWCS website for more detailed descriptions.
• Ebb Tide and Ceramastone, Provincial and Concord line patterns (three different sessions) by RWCS Hall of Famers Terry Moe & Larry Roschen.
• Is That Right? Aftermarket Dinnerware & Art Pottery by Display Room Chair Laura Beall.
• Red Wing Art Pottery by Ray Reiss, author of two books on the subject.
• Red Wing Salt Glaze Stoneware (Parts 1 and 2) by RWCS Newsletter Editor Rick Natynski.
• Symbolism on Victorian Era Gravestones by Goodhue County Historical Society Executive Director Dustin Heckman.
• Crafting Beer in the Desirable City: Red Wing’s Brewing History by Scott Kolby, owner and founder of Red Wing Brewery.
• Updates from the Pottery Museum by the RWCS Foundation.
• Privy Digging by RWCS Hall of Famer Steve Showers and fellow digger Mark Youngblood.
• Dump Finds by Red Wing dump diggers Paul Boudin and Connie Mathison.
• Collecting Zinc Glazed Red Wing Stoneware by RWCS Hall of Famer Larry Peterson and Steve Poeschl.
• The River Underground: Finding Red Wing’s Historic Jordan Creek by Goodhue County Historical Society Curator Casey Mathern.
• White Ware & Kitchen Ware From the 1930s by RWCS Hall of Famer Dennis Nygaard.
Another unique aspect of the RWCS Convention is the participation of the younger generation through the KidsView program. The Society is on the leading edge of creating engaging and educational ways to get the younger generations involved in collecting. The focus on these RWCS members is an important part of the vision of the Society to ensure its continued existence and growth. There are many interactive and challenging activities and seminars for children ages 3-12 to get involved in, such as learning how to bid at an auction, what to look for in an antique, and several hands-on pottery creation projects.
To further complement KidsView, the RWCS Young Collectors is entering its fourth year of helping Red Wing collectors ages 13 to 20 grow their interest in Red Wing. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Red Wing, develop new friendships through peer-to-peer discussion groups and participate in hands-on activities.
To learn more about all the events and activities of the RWCS Convention, visit the RWCS website event page for the Convention. The RWCS can also be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.
Annual membership in the Red Wing Collectors Society costs only $35 and includes six 16-page full-color newsletters mailed to your home throughout the year. The RWCS was founded in 1977 in Red Wing and there are more than 4,000 members worldwide. For more information or to become a member, call the RWCS business office at 800-977-7927, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.redwingcollectors.org. You can also join the RWCS on Facebook and follow it on Twitter at twitter.com/RWcollectors.