North Dakota Pottery Collectors Society



Newsletter Excerpts
From the April 2017 Edition

Vice President’s Message


The calendar is telling us it is almost Spring, but my snow-blower is telling me it is still Winter. This is the second year in 47 years that we have been in Dickinson that I had to use a rake. Oh that is not a garden or leaf rake it is a SNOW-RAKE. After the first two snows in late December we had over a foot of snow on the roof that I had to remove, but that wasn’t bad as some of the people had over 18 inches. I’m planning ahead and will be ready next winter to do some gardening. I will start with planting Snow Peas.

The 2017 convention is at Minot, June 9th,10th & 11th, 2017, if you have any questions contact President Gail Yuly the convention chair or me the V-P & Historian. Our contact information is on the web at or on the last page of the newsletters.

Friday eve after dining you have the opportunity to show your trophy cache from your hunting & fishing expeditions for show, tell & possibly trade. We should see some interesting items and learn the history of your cache. But please hold down the camp fire hunting & fishing stories.

On Saturday morning there will be NDPCS trivia, that has questions about the Society and pottery to look up and answer from the NDPCS scrap books. Also the Olson’s are giving a presentation on the artists and pottery at the Assumption Abbey at Richardton and the Annunciation Priory at Bismarck.

At the banquet the Bakkens will be giving a presentation on the Buffalo Museum at Jamestown.

See you at Minot

Arley Olson VP & Historian


Click here for information on the 2017 CONVENTION

Erling Rolfsrud Collection

By Arley Olson


The above collection was used by the North Dakota author Erling Rolfsrud for education seminars.

Erling Nicolai Rolfsrud was born September 3, 1912, near Keene, North Dakota on the farm of his parents Nils and Rebecca (Heide) Rolfsrud. He attended Watford City High School and graduated from there in 1930. He attended Minot State College in North Dakota and also Concordia College at Moorhead, Minnesota where he received a Bachelor’s degree in 1936.

Mr. Rolfsrud taught at Concordia College and headed the Department of Business Education. Later he taught at Alexandria High School in Minnesota.

He was a freelance writer and became a prolific writer who wrote articles and short stories, as well as newspaper columns for several North Dakota and Minnesota newspapers. He was an author who published 31 books from 1949-1993, many of which are about North Dakota and have North Dakota settings. He is best known for his books on North Dakota, some of the better known are Lanterns Over the Prairies, Gopher Tails for Papa, White Angakok, Story of the Red River Land and Flickertail Stories. But the members of the NDPCS will be more familiar with his book "Extraordinary North Dakotans".

In addition to his writing, Mr. Rolfsrud traveled the state of North Dakota giving speeches and lec-tures on his writing and the state’s history. In 1952 he was a lyceum lecturer for one year in North Dakota schools and spoke about North Dakota history and Extraordinary North Dakotans. Mr. Rolfsrud was selected as one of the 75 "Heroes" in North Dakota’s history, and in 1989 he was inducted into North Dakota’s Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.

He acquired a collection of Rosemeade and Messer pottery that he would set out at his lecturers. Janice Hanson, purchased the collection from him some years ago. At the 2015 NDPCS Bismarck convention, Bonnie had the opportunity to purchase it for my Fathers Day gift.

Notice the Boston Terrier with the mold, the elephant is a bank and the 13th set of dog heads (cocker spaniel).



Scarce UND Dish Found at 2016 NDPCS Auction

By Arley Olson

Earle Jay Babcock was Professor of Industrial Chemistry, Metallurgy and Mining, Director of the School of Mines and the North Dakota Mining Experiment Station, and then Dean of the College of Mining Engineering from 1898. During the summers Babcock took trips through the state gathering mineral examples for later analysis. He sought to determine purpose and products for which they might best be used. After years of investigation and analysis of clay resources Babcock made a study of these clays, first in the field as a geologist, and later in the laboratories and testing rooms, as dean of the School of Mines.

After successful experimentation with the clays Babcock’s next step was publicizing on a national stage the ceramic viability of North Dakota clay. An opportunity arose with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904. Babcock envision a display of North Dakota clays and finished products made from them, such as sewer pipe, paving brick, enameled brick, roofing brick, roofing tile, drain tile, ornamental building brick, hollow terra cotta lumber and also tableware and decorative pottery. In 1903 and 1904 Babcock wrote to Beaver Falls Art Tile Co. and Mayer Pottery Co., in Pennsylvania; Edwin Bennett’s Tile Works, in Baltimore; National China Co. and Homer Laughlin China Co., in East Liverpool, Ohio; Brockman Pottery Co., in Cincinnati; Cook Pottery Co. and Trenton Potteries Co., in New Jersey; S. A. Weller, the Ohio Pottery Co., the Roseville Pottery Co. and the J. B. Owens Pottery Co., in Zanesville, Ohio; and the Art Institute of Chicago asking if supplied with North Dakota clay if they would make some samples of art pottery.

Many of the companies approached were sent quantities of clay to test and use. Several of them were unable or unwilling to comply to his request but some of the companies were able to comply and made items with good results, three of them were the Mayer Pottery Co., Roseville Pottery Co., and Owens Pottery Co. At the end of May 1904 Babcock sent Roseville and Owens instructions for delivery of Utopian Art Vases, Venetian Art Ware, jardinières and special pieces made from North Dakota clay to the Mine and Metallurgy Building, North Dakota Booth, World’s Fair Grounds, St. Louis, Missouri. The Mayer Pottery Co. provided tableware that consisted of 40 pieces of Purple Flowered Ware and 45 pieces of Pink Flowered Ware. The tableware was marked with an incised "ND".

Governor’s Residence Display

"End Of An Era"

By Arley Olson

In 2011 Betsy Dalrymple, The First Lady heard about the North Dakota Pottery Collector’s Society and contacted Tara Holt to see if there was a way to find past North Dakota pottery to display in the Residence during the Dalrymple Administration. In November of 2011, Bob Barr and Tara Holt filled a large glass case with UND Pottery. The display was rotated five times and removed December 14, 2016 marking the end of Dalrymple’s administration and the NDPCS display. Various North Dakota pottery companies along with other North Dakota artisans were featured. Items for the display were loaned by the following NDPCS members: Bob Barr, Tara Holt & Doug Prchal, Pat Grantier, Audrey & Darrell Spencer, Beth Hill, Todd Hanson, former Governor Ed Schafer, and Bonnie & Arley Olson.

Dec. 14, 2016 NDPCS members Tara Holt & Doug Prchal, Bob Barr, Pat Grantier, Audrey & Darrell Spencer, and Bonnie & Arley Olson were at the Governor’s residence to remove the NDPCS Pottery Display.

The State of North Dakota is in the process of building a new Governors Residence north of the existing residence. Upon the completion of the new residence the old one will be demolished.

We the displayers want to thank The First Lady Betsy Dalrymple for the opportunity to display North Dakota pottery and other North Dakota historic collectables. Also a thank you to Steve Sharkey for his assistance with the displays.



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Last modified: 05-08-17