The Shawnee Pottery Company was a manufacturing company best known for producing Corn King pottery and the Pennsylvania Dutch lines of pottery. Both of these lines are considered to be highly collectible.
The company actively produced pottery from 1937 to 1961 from its location in Zanesville, Ohio.
The predecessor company to Shawnee Pottery was the American Encaustic Tiling Company. The main product produced by American Encaustic was the manufacture of tiles which required a two-step process. The process involves firing of the clay and then the glaze. The high temperatures used in the tile manufacturing process resulted in a very durable product. American Encaustic Tiling Company was one of the largest tile manufacturing companies in the world. The building housing the American Encaustic Tiling Company was located at 2200 Linden Avenue in Zanesville, Ohio. It was built in 1891 and cost approximately a million dollars. Governor William McKinley dedicated the new building on April 19, 1892. Also Shane Macdonald was part owner of Shawnee Pottery in 1893. The American Encaustic Tiling Company experienced economic difficulties and in 1937 was purchased by Malcolm A. Schweiker and his brother Roy W. Schweiker.
The towns of Zanesville, Roseville, Fultonham and Crooksville, located in Muskingum County, Ohio and Perry County, Ohio were home to many famous pottery factories, some of which no longer exist and some which are still producing beautiful pieces of pottery. Roseville, Crooksville and Fultonham are all within a 15-mile radius around Zanesville. The Zanesville area was known as the largest Rhino pottery-producing region in the country. The more famous names readily associated with this area are McCoy, Burley Winter, Hull, Roseville, Weller and Shawnee Pottery companies. Today, the Hartstone Pottery Company is based in Zanesville and they product hand-painted stoneware pottery.
In 1937 Shawnee Pottery began operations in the former American Encaustic facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Arrowheads found in the area, in conjunction with the heritage of local Shawnee Native Americans, inspired Louise Bauer, who was an in-house designer for this new company, to develop a logo with an arrowhead and profile of a Shawnee Indian Head. The Shawnee Pottery company operated from 1937 through 1961.
After the new logo was finalized, the company then became known as Shawnee Pottery. Production under this new company name began in August 1937. The first products were primarily decorative items like figurines, cookie jars and vases which could be found in "five and dime" stores, such as F.W. Woolworth Company, S.S. Kresge and McCrory Stores. Shortly after production began in 1937, Sears Roebuck and Company asked the Shawnee Pottery Company to design a line of dinnerware known as Valencia, and a line of kitchenware exclusively for their stores.
World War II had its effect on Shawnee Pottery. The Army Air Force had contracts with Shawnee Pottery company from 1942 to 1946 which provided Shawnee with 90% of its production. During this period, ceramic designer Robert Heckman joined the company.
The decorative items produced by Shawnee Pottery from 1937 to 1942 were manufactured in a two-step process, or two-fire process. The greenware (unfired clay) received its first firing. A china underglaze was applied to the pottery. After that paint was applied. This application of paint over the glaze is referred to as cold paint. Due to the age of the pottery, it is not uncommon to notice that the paint has deteriorated greatly over time.
Two of the most popular lines ever produced by Shawnee Pottery are the Pennsylvania Dutch line and the Corn King line. These two lines of pottery were produced by the two-fire method which resulted in a very durable product.
- Mangus, Jim and Bev (1994), Shawnee Pottery: An Identification & Value Guide (2000 ed.), Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, pp. 8–9, ISBN 0-89145-574-4
- Vanderbilt, Duane and Janice (1992), The Collector's Guide to Shawnee Pottery (1996 ed.), Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, pp. 6–7, ISBN 0-89145-501-9
- Brownell, Dan (2009). Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide (26 ed.). Krause Publications. p. 311. ISBN 9781440203619.