by Arley and Bonnie Olson
Products Company was organized December 18, 1934, taking over the Dickinson
Fire & Press Brick Co., which was founded in 1902. The company plant
was located by the Heart River in the southwest part of the city in the
vicinity of the present day water treatment plant.
The production of the Art pottery was started to keep the plant open on a
yearly basis due to the fact that brick and tile were not produced during
the winter months. The Art pottery was a division of the Dickinson
Clay Products Company. The trade name of the pottery was "Dickota" (the
first four letters of the city and the last four letters of the state).
The Dickota pottery clay was taken from a butte near Baghdad about one mile
southwest of the clay plant.
Items made were vases, advertising ashtrays, cowboy hat ashtrays,
pitchers, mugs, book ends, Cableware dinnerware, candle holders, flower
pots, tea tiles, curtain shade pulls, animal figurines, teepee incense
burners, little brown jugs, console sets, plant hangers, bowls, cookie jars,
lamps, salt and pepper shakers, sugars and creamers and tea pots. A
popular item was the ball water pitcher and glasses patterned after
Charles Grantier, a graduate of the University of North Dakota, joined
the Pottery Company in 1935 as a designer. Advertising ashtrays were
especially popular and Grantier was active in their design. Grantier
also created a motif called "Sundogs" which was widely used. "Sundogs" was a
design depicting the rising sun over the North Dakota Badlands. This
design was used on ashtrays and bowls. Also, the teepee incense burner
was his design.
Another type of ware made at the Dickinson Clay Products Co. was labeled
"Badlands Pottery". It was made of various colors of clay, some of
which are blue, green, reddish brown, brown, gray and tan. Howard
Lewis an employee of Dickota brought this technology to Dickota from Niloak,
an Arkansas Pottery Co.
In August 1936, Margaret Cable from UND Grand Forks, North Dakota spent
several weeks at the Dickinson Clay Plant designing dinnerware. This
was known as Dickota Cableware. In 1937, Laura Taylor spent some time
in Dickinson conducting classes and assisting the Pottery Company. One
of the items she designed was an ashtray with a lounging lion.
Gold & silver foil labels with the word "Dickota" were affixed to some of
the ware as well as "Dickota" incised on the base of some of the items.
Another signature was a black stamped diamond with "DICKOTA" in the inside
of the diamond and Dickinson, N. Dakota on the base of the diamond. The
Dickinson Clay Products Company "Dickota Pottery" plant continued operation
until November 1937.
From original Dickota catalog:
Item #51G, large lion, 17" long, price $3.00 each.
Gold & Silver foil label with the word Dickota
From original Dickota catalog:
Item # 125EC, Pitcher Vase, 8" tall, price $1.50 each. Item # 63C, Hot
Drink Mug, 3-3/8" tall price $0.50 each.
Both items incised Dickota
Photos courtesy of
Arley and Bonnie Olson
North Dakota Pottery, Dickota and WPA Ceramics,
Copyright 2010 by Arley H. & Bonnie J. Olson. $37.50 postpaid to Arley & Bonnie Olson,
1060 Foster Drive, Dickinson, ND 58601.
Dickota Pottery, reproduced copies of a 1935
Dickota Pottery product catalogue. $7.00 postpaid to Arley & Bonnie Olson,
1060 Foster Drive, Dickinson, ND 58601. Out of print
America's Salt & Pepper Shakers, Copyright 2000 by Sylvia Tompkins and
Irene Thornburg. $33.95 Postpaid to Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 4880 Lower
Valley Road Atglen, PA 19310. 610-593-1777
Collector's Encyclopedia of Dakota Potteries, Copyright 1996 by Darlene
Hurst Dommel, Collector Books, Paduca, KY. Out of Print
Earth, Water, and Fire - The History and Uses of North Dakota Clay, 1998
Spring/Summer Issue North Dakota History - Journal of the Northern Plains,
Volume 65, No. 2 & 3. $10.50 postpaid to State Historical Society of North
Dakota, 612 Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505. 701-328-2666.