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The TV Lamp Collectors Blog » Blog Archive » A Visit to the Halls of Pottery

A Visit to the Halls of Pottery


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Doris and Burdell HallThis past July I took the family on a road trip that took us to a number of marvelous places, and we made memorable stops in Kentucky, Illinois and Minnesota… all of which were tied in some way to vintage pottery! One of the highlights was a visit to the home of Morton, Illinois pottery historians Doris and Burdell Hall. The renowned experts on the subject, they have researched the Morton potteries for many years, Burdell himself having worked at Midwest Potteries in the 1940s. It’s hardly possible to study pottery without also collecting, and they have a collection that is nothing short of fabulous.

Morton PotteryThey have many rare examples from each of the Morton Potteries, all of which had their roots in the Rapp family. One might think that researching companies with a common family tree would be fairly straight-forward, but that is definitely not the case. Over the years the potteries were founded, renamed, merged, closed, re-opened… even the product designs were shared or transfered from one company to another! All this results in many puzzle pieces that have to be sorted out, the detective-work that is at the core of historical research. It was just this sort of challenge that drew Burdell and I together.

Morton PotteryThe majority of the design work was done by “insiders”, the members of the Rapp family. But in the ’40s Midwest Pottery enlisted the services of Howard Kron, who had previously done work at Haldeman Potteries in California. In the same way that potteries are linked together, so too are historians, and Kron was a link that tied Midwest Pottery to Texans Incorporated, the company that is the focus of my studies. Burdell and I put our heads together to sort it all out, and also received considerable help from a historian in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Steve Schreiter. In perusing Burdell’s collection I found many of Kron’s rare designs, even previously unknown pieces, and I think we both ended up with a better understanding of his time in Morton.

Morton Pottery My experience has been that pottery collectors and historians are a friendly, enthusiastic lot, and Doris and Burdell are certainly no exception. We were welcomed into their home and given the grand-tour. Figurines, TV lamps, planters, bowls, wall pockets, even a ceramic radio speaker… their collection is of museum quality. Having already written two books on Morton Pottery, a third is in the works. The previous books are fabulous references, so much so that today they enjoy a collector value as great as the pottery itself, and the next one is sure to be a must-have. As with all American potteries, the legacy of the Morton potteries needs to be preserved, and it’s the dedication of enthusiastic individuals like these that make it happen. The Morton pottery companies were important, a real source of pride for the community. So too are Doris and Burdell Hall.

Burdell Hall

2 Responses to “A Visit to the Halls of Pottery”

  1. josephine N Says:

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    I just want to say thank you for all your informative history,being fas inated with all types of vintage ceramics but, especially vintage ceramic molds and companies your insight has been most educational. Having access to thousands of vintage molds I am realizing the history to some of these great artifacts and how valuable it is to keep them intact.Again thankyou for sharing your knowledge and especially your collections with us.

  2. Burdell and Doris Hall Says:

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    What a wonderful surprise this article is! When you visited with us in July, we had no idea that you had planned to expose us in this manner. We feel privileged, and blessed that you took the time to stop by, and have now shared our experience with others. Nestled safely in the small community of Morton, we take for granted the 99 years of fascinating pottery history that we had. However. it takes “Pottery People”, like you, to sharpen our awareness that there is a growing appreciation of Morton’s pottery out there. Your well written account of our visit is deeply appreciated. Thank you so very much.

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