The Basics of Collecting Vintage Chalkware

While early pieces of chalkware made during the late 1800s were often copies of more expensive patterns made in England, these plaster of Paris pieces eventually started to take on a humorous character based on comic book characters. When you shop for chalkware on eBay, you can find many painted pieces that were initially given out as awards at local carnivals. Many of these pieces could be displayed on decorating shelves and other areas in your home.

Who were some major manufacturers of vintage chalkware?

Many companies made antique chalk figurines and chalkware pieces. Some major manufacturers include:

  • Bosson - This company in Congleton, England, created many chalkware items, like animals, barometers, mirrors, thermometers, bookends, lamp bases. However, many collectors focus on its wall masks made between 1948 and 1996.
  • Miller Studios - This studio created many wall hangings showing marine life, especially chalkware fish, along with other wall hanging themes, like puppies and horses.
  • “Schtockschnitzler” Simmons - This Pennsylvania creator made several series of chalkware featuring birds.
  • Marwal Industries - This Florida company made several tabletop statues with many having a Biblical theme.
Types of products advertised with chalkware

Since Chalkware was very inexpensive to produce, many companies offered these figurines as a marketing tool. The following products advertised with chalkware:

  • Electronics - Victor, the RCA dog, was made in many vintage chalkware variations.
  • Soda - Many soda companies, including Whistler Soda, had thermometers created to hang in front of businesses to show patrons they needed to cool off with a cold soda.
  • Beer - Many beer companies, including Heineken, offered tavern owners tall chalkware mugs sitting on top of wooden bases to use as advertising in their businesses.
  • Banks - Banks often gave customers cheap chalkware banks that they could use to save coins. Once full, the banks could be turned in for another one.
  • Cigars - Native Americans busts were used to sell many brands of cigars, including Hiawatha.
Products made from chalkware

Vintage chalkware is available in many different items. Male/female paired chalkware lamps standing about 17 inches tall are found in many homes. Some incorporate a small light, such as a nightlight, while others are designed to hold light bulbs. Many companies offered a variety of wall decor, with many being functional string holders with the string coming out of the mouth of a figure to wrap up leftover food. As people took road trips, almost every attraction offered souvenirs for sale. Many different companies provided point-of-sale figurines while others let their customers send in for a collectible piece.