Five years ago when we moved to Red Wing, we knew very little about Red Wing pottery. All we knew was it sold well! The first three lamps we purchased were lamps that were made out of vases. Two were a set of huge lamps in Crystaline Blue at a local garage sale. The other one was a Georgian Rose. All three looked like regular Red Wing vases. We thought that someone had taken vases and converted them into lamps…real neat idea. Then one day, a fellow came in the shop and introduced himself as Ray Reiss, said he was writing a book on Red Wing Art Pottery! Al picked his brain for about two hours. Learning that the Historical Society had “genuine” catalogs from the pottery, we were off. We spent about 4 hours or more there having them make copies of everything and anything that had to do with Red Wing. To our surprise, there was a catalog of Lamps made by Red Wing”. Al decided right away, that is what he wanted to collect because no one knew about them and at that time, they were so unusual. The race was on. That was four years ago. To date we have just under 165 lamps. About 135 were on display at the 1997 Red Wing Convention.
Red Wing lamps have the same glazes that were used for pottery vases. We found that the bottom was open, usually had two levels, the inner level recessed an small fraction of an inch and had some sort of number…three or four digit numbers. These numbers did not correspond with any vase number. We felt we knew enough about the Red Wing glazes. Our first lamps found were the art pottery green, yellow and white. Some of the first lamps found we could document as the pictures were in the lamp catalog. Some of the lamps we found, that we were not sure of, we would purchase and wait until Ray came to town, showed them to him and proceeded to pick his brain again and again. Of all the lamps we purchased that first year, there were four that were not Red Wing! Two were a set of George and Martha Washington. We knew Red Wing made a children’s line of lamps. We saw the picture of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and thought Martha was Mary and thought somehow that old George belonged in there somewhere but, there was no picture of him in the catalog! We found out later they were made by some other pottery. The other two were on metal bases. They did not have the double ledge on the bottom when we took them apart but, the blue and yellow color of each lamp was close to the Red Wing glazes. Again we were wrong.During this time, we found that Red Wing made lamps for RumRill also. Our first purchases of RumRill lamps were #252 and #327. At first we thought the were vases made into lamps. As we looked closer, they were lamp bases. They were keepers for sure! Since that time, Al has taken a liking to Run Rill Scarlet and Bay lamps of which he has eleven! The nudes are the most famous and the most sought after AND, the most expensive. Although, the “bullets” with blended glazes have caught on too.
At the end of the 1996 convention Al commented that he would like to do a display on Red Wing lamps at the ’97 convention but, we had only 60 – 70 lamps. He felt that wouldn’t make an eye catching display. He said that he wanted 100 lamps by January l, 1997 for his display. On his birthday, which is New Years day, I presented him with his 100th lamp. The lamp was made of #1170 vase mold. It had a factory metal base and cover. Our mission was set in stone….1997 Convention here we come! Between January 1st and the day before we set up our display at the convention, we came up with another 35 lamps.
We have taken 90% of them apart so we can display them around the shop for education or in lighted cabinets in our living room for us to enjoy. We have saved all the metal works just in case there will be a big sale someday and they can be put back together. The other 10% we use for lighting in our shop and in the different rooms in our living area.
We still look for lamps and purchase them when we find something we don’t have. On our travels, we laugh at times because within 100 miles of Red Wing, lamps that are close to Red Wing glazes never have any felt on the bottom. Others with factory bases are usually tipsy because they haven’t been put back together correctly. Watch out for those!
When buying lamps approach with caution……..just because a lamp is marked RED WING on the price tag, it may not be! We have never found a lamp that is speckled blue, speckled yellow, speckled pink or speckled green. If the glaze doesn’t look right, it may not be Red Wing. There will be plenty of Red Wing lamps for sale at this years convention…good luck to new lamp collectors
Children’s line “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
Red Wing Stoneware Cherub