Now that the Wisconsin decorative arts exhibition is installed, I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the computer and in the library stacks, researching and writing about the objects I photographed at several sites over the past several months. My most recent additions to the database are 11 artifacts from the Sauk County Historical Society in Baraboo, including a pre-1840 Oneida stamped woodsplint basket and a straw case made to hold the first temperance pledge signed in Baraboo in 1844.
Early ceramic production in Baraboo is represented by four items attributed to the Pointon Pottery, including the covered jar shown here. Born in England in 1808, Philip Pointon operated a pottery in the community from 1851 until his death in 1857. According to the Society, Pointon’s pottery produced “enough jars, jugs and other wares to keep three wagons delivering to the surrounding towns in central Sauk County. [He] used local clay obtained at ‘Gillson’s slough’ west of the city.” An 1851 advertisement for the “Baraboo Pottery” in the Sauk County Standard states that “Philip Pointon has now on hand a large assortment of Jars, Crocks, Jugs, Dishes, Stove coolers, garden Pots &c., and other kinds of pottery ware, which he now offers for sale 75 per cent below the prices usually charged for such articles.”
The four pieces attributed to Pointon in the Society’s collection are all unmarked, and are dramatically different from one another. This makes it challenging to confirm these attributions. The history associated with this covered jar provides the strongest evidence for the Pointon attribution. A handwritten note pasted to the underside reads: “This jar was made by Philip Pointon in the spring of 1853 in Baraboo Wis in a Pottery that was on the corner of Second Av and West St. It was given by Mr. and Mrs. Y. B. Gibbes who have lived in Baraboo 56 years. 1896.”
The Sauk County Historical Society is in the midst of a major expansion project–the transformation of the former Island Woolen Company Office Building into a new history center is currently underway. When the history center is completed, the Society’s current home, the Van Orden Mansion, will become a historic house museum.
Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.