Art Pottery: North Dakota School of Mines


UND is one of my favorite potteries. It was produced at the University of North Dakota starting in 1904, and had its first pottery display at the St. Louis Worlds Fair that year.

Years back, a very large deposit of natural clay was found in the area of the university, so it was natural that the school started art classes using this new found resource. Many teachers of potting joined the university, and their wares soon became the rage.

These pieces have a hand-made feel to them. They are heavy in weight, with thick walls, and typically have glazed muted colors of mostly earth tones, blues, and pinks.

All of the UND pieces are marked with a round cobalt blue seal, and most have the artist initials engraved in the wet clay.

There are four special ladies that came to the school to teach, and they are Margaret Kelly Cable, her sister Flora Cable Huckfield, Julia Edna Mattson and Hildegarde Fried. Any of these names on a piece will assure you that the price for it will be substantial. Margaret Cable my be the best known, but all their works are desirable.

The pieces of North Dakota pottery that I like best are the prairie motif pieces. This style might include a western theme with animals and western scenes. There are many pieces with cowboy decorations and some with stagecoaches. The first piece of UND pottery that I ever purchase was a plaque about four inches by 6 inches of a lady tennis player. This piece was given as a award for a tournament and the winners name was on the back of the plaque plus the artist initials. It had the proper stamped mark, so I knew it was going to be mine. I was able to purchase it for about $100. I sold it at auction it brought I think about $500.

As the popularity of the University of Dakota Pottery increased, so did their prices. For example a plaque by Hildegarde Fried may bring $2500 today while candlesticks marked, Mattson, could command a price of $3000. I have been fortunate enough to own several Margaret Cable pieces, and each time I sold one, the values kept going up. A deer vase may bring $2500 today even though its height may be only four inches. the common pieces bring much less, so study the rarities.

Generally, larger pieces of decorated pottery, 12″ and up, will be that rare piece many collectors look for.

There were many potteries in North Dakota, and a great book to learn more about them was written by Darlene Hurst Dommel. Some of the other North Dakota Potteries are Pine Ridge and Rosemeade. The more you learn about, the better your eyes will be skilled in spotting various pieces of UND pottery, as well as all the others we discuss.

You might find the average pottery dealer will not be as well versed on UND as they will be on Roseville, Weller or other more familiar works. Use this to your advantage.

When I find a great piece of North Dakota I have to admit it is hard for me to give it up. But my rule is that if someone wants something I own bad enough, it can be theirs.

Today’s Photo is courtesy of Just Art Pottery. You can get an excellent overview of what many of the art pottery pieces we discuss look like, all at one place by visiting their site.

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If you haven’t yet had a chance to see what we’ve got listed in the 31 Gallery & Marketplace, click on over and take a look. You might even find a real bargain. We’ve got many high quality items priced reasonably. If you have a high quality piece you’d like us to find a buyer for, why not consign your item to us. No high fees when you sell with us. Contact us here.

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3 Responses

  1. I have a question: In 1926 did Mattson and Huckfield work on many pieces together?

  2. Not all pieces of UND pottery are marked! Your dscription is not accurate. I have the only one in existance marked by hand “UND 1912”. UND changed there history description after seeing my vase. I also had it at the ND Pottery Roadshow in Kenmare, ND.

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