Bison Chalkware Salt and Pepper Shakers - circa 1930s
Made out of plaster of Paris, chalkware was used to create inexpensive versions of decorative objects—so many small chalkware figurines were given away as prizes at carnivals, that many pieces became known as “carnival chalk.” Chalkware was also a good material for lightly used household tools, as well as disposable three-dimensional advertising signs. Some chalkware pieces were formed in molds, others were carved. In either case, the chalkware was just about always painted, often using an airbrush method. Because chalkware chipped easily and its fragile colors sat exposed on the surface of the pieces rather than being fired like a glaze, very few pieces from the early 19th to mid-20th centuries, the heyday of the material, have survived without dings and scratches. Even pieces that survived unscathed often look dingy and careworn—because it is so fragile, chalkware essentially cannot be cleaned. In the United States, two of the main centers for chalkware were Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, although the pieces themselves were almost certainly the work of Italian artisans who sold their wares to Pennsylvania Dutch farmers.
This pair of American bison chalkware salt and pepper shakers are is fair condition. They definitely show many chips and scuffs due to their age, but I still find them to be really cool little pieces. They have their original cork plugs and are stamped "U.S.A." on the bottom.
Bison measure: 1.00" x 2.75" x 1.50"
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