Tips by Dr. Lori

Chalkware

by Dr. Lori Verderame
Chalkware

Chalkware

Once called poor man's porcelain, Chalkware is a collectible molded ceramic likened to plaster. Decorated with watercolor pigment and other media, Chalkware was largely produced in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Some of the most popular distribution channels for figural or decorative chalkware was carnivals where the figures were given away as prizes. 

Determine Age and Origin

Santa

One helpful bit of information when assessing any object is to figure out how old it is. With chalkware, the surface of the piece can tell you alot about its age. Notice Santa's costume and his green chair, both are typical of the early decades of the 1900s.

The fact that Santa is sleeping is another clue to its origin and value. Santa is more commonly shown sleeping in European depictions of Santa rather than in American versions. This points to the earlier images of Santa Claus prior to World War II. 

Condition 

Back of Santa bank

The impression on the back of the bank is a big clue. It shows you about the material and the fact that you have to break the bank in order to access your savings. The bank is made of an inexpensive material--a ceramic that is called chalkware that chips and breaks easily. Condition impacts value and the fact that the pigment on the bank is chipping is another clue.

Mark on Santa Bank

Found at carnivals and fairs, this chalkware Santa bank was made in Germany and exported to the United States.

What to Look For

With most pieces of Chalkware, look for completely molded pieces with no loss areas. Value is higher for those pieces that have intricate designs and strong painted decoration. Values for Chalkware pieces from the late 19th/early 20th Centuries can range from $10 to $500 depending on form, decoration, condition, age, rarity, and other factors. 

Get an online appraisal of your collectible Chalkware from Dr. Lori

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