Dickinson Clay 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 Cambridge Glass.
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.
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.