The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera





Creator:          Marion J. Nelson

Title:               Art pottery papers

Dates:             1960-2000

Call No.:         Col. 708

Acc. No.:         02x174

Quantity:        6 cu. ft.

Location:        15 G 1-4






Marion John Nelson was an art history professor and a collector of art pottery.  He received his degrees from the University of Minnesota, where he also taught.  Dr. Nelson’s chief interests were Scandinavian art, the arts and crafts of Scandinavian immigrants in the United States, and American art pottery.  He wrote or contributed to more than a dozen books, and was curator of more than fifty art and pottery exhibits.  Books which he edited or wrote include Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition; Art Pottery of the Midwest; and Norwegian-American Wood Carving of the Upper Midwest. 


Although other writers and lecturers about art pottery tried to make a clear distinction between art pottery and industrial art ware, Dr. Nelson did not.  He believed that the distinction between the two was based on artistic merit, and since he considered merit a matter of individual judgment, he thought it was difficult to make a clear separation between art pottery and industrial art ware.  Dr. Nelson was noted for giving aesthetic evaluations of art pottery, that is, he was able to tell his audience (either readers of his books or audiences at his lectures) why art pottery had appeal and what made a piece good.


Dr. Nelson was made a knight in the Royal Order of St. Olaf, an honor conferred by King Olav V of Norway.  He served as director of Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  Dr. Nelson’s wife Lila joined him in collecting art pottery and worked with him in researching potteries in Ohio.  Dr. Nelson died in September 2000.





The collection includes Dr. Nelson’s notes and photographs from his years of research and exhibition curatorship.  There is an emphasis on potteries located in the Midwest.  Also included are Dr. Nelson’s correspondence with collectors and scholars, including Paul Evans, whose papers are at Winterthur (Col. 598), and newsletters from collectors’ groups, including the Ceramic Arts Studio Collectors, the Red Wing Collector’s Society, and the Haeger Pottery Collectors Association.  Many of the photos and slides are identified, but unfortunately, there are a number which are not. 





The papers are divided into five series: I. Notes and photos about individual potteries; II. Dr. Nelson’s writings; III. Correspondence; IV. Other files; and V. Note cards, photographs and negatives. 





Gift of Lila (Mrs. Marion J.) Nelson.






            Evans, Paul, 1937-



            Haeger Potteries.

            Ceramic Arts Studio.

            Red Wing Potteries.


            Pottery – United States – Arts and Crafts Movement.

            Art pottery, American.

            Pottery – Ohio.

            Commercial catalogs – Pottery, American.


                        Black-and-white photographs.

                        Color photographs.


                        Commercial catalogs.






Location: 15 G 1-4



Series I: Notes and photos about individual potteries


Box 1:


Folder 1:          Abingdon Pottery (Abingdon, Illinois)


Folder 2:          Arc-en-Ciel


Folder 3:          Arkansas pottery

                        [note: Niloak in separate folder]


Folder 4:          Auburn Pottery (Cincinnati)


Folder 5:          Avon (Cincinnati)


Folder 6:          Barberton


Folder 7:          Bennett, Edwin


Folder 8:          Brown County (Indiana) – pottery


Folder 9:          Brush-McCoy


Folder 10:        Buffalo Pottery


Folder 11:        Cambridge Art Pottery


Folder 12:        Cincinnati Art Pottery


Folder 13:        Cliftwood Pottery


Folder 14:        Cowen


Folder 15:        Craven Art Pottery


Folder 16:        Dedham


Folder 17:        Dickota


Folder 18:        Durant


Folder 19:        Ephraim Faience Art Pottery


Folder 20:        Florentine Pottery


Folder 21:        Frankoma Art Pottery


Folder 22:        Fraunfelter China Co.


Folder 23:        Fulper


Folder 24:        Geijsbeek, Samuel


Folder 25:        Goodwin, John


Folder 26:        Grueby


Folder 27:        Haeger Potteries: articles and miscellaneous


Folder 28:        Haeger Potteries: correspondence


Folder 29:        Haeger Potteries: pictures and photos


Folder 30:        Haeger Potteries: The HPCA News


Folder 31:        Haeger Potteries: draft of paper by Paradis or Nelson



Box 2:


Folder 1:          Haeger Potteries: catalogs


Folder 2:          Haeger Potteries: shape book [photocopy]


Folder  3:         Hampshire Pottery


Folder 4:          Harker Pottery


Folder 5:          Indiana pottery: Muncie and others


Folder 6:          Iowa State University Pottery


Folder 7:          Jervis Pottery


Folder 8:          Jugtown pottery


Folder 9:          Knowles-Taylor-Knowles


Folder 10:        Laselle Brothers


Folder 11:        Long, W. A.


Folder 12:        Lotus Ware


Folder 13:        Lower Sioux Pottery


Folder 14:        Marblehead Pottery


Folder 15:        Markham Pottery


Folder 16:        McLaughlin, M. Louisa


Folder 17:        McNicol, D. E., Jr.


Folder 18:        Minnesota Art Pottery Association



Box 3:


Folder 1:          Minneapolis Arts and Crafts Society


Folder 2:          Minnesota pottery


Folder 3:          Minnesota pottery: Red Wing


Folder 4:          Minnesota pottery: Red Wing Collector’s Society, Inc., Newsletter


Folder 5:          Moorcroft, W. R.


Folder 6:          Morgan, Matt


Folder 7:          Newcomb Pottery


Folder 8:          Newell Pottery


Folder 9:          Niloak


Folder 10:        Norse Pottery


Folder 11:        North Dakota, University of


Folder 12:        North Dakota potteries: photocopies of materials from UND Special Collections


Folder 13:        North Dakota Pottery Collectors Society


Folder 14:        Ohr, George



Box 4:


Folder 1:          Overbeck Pottery


Folder 2:          Owen China Co.


Folder 3:          Owens Pottery (J. B. Owens Pottery Co.)


Folder 4:          Paul Revere Pottery


Folder 5:          Pauline Pottery


Folder 6:          Peters & Reed Pottery Co.


Folders 7-8:     Pewabic Pottery


Folder 9:          Pewabic Pottery: life of Mary Chase Perry


Folder 10:        Pewabic Pottery: photos


Folder 11:        Pisgah Forest Pottery


Folder 12:        Radford Pottery Co.


Folder 13:        Robineau, Adelaide Alsop



Box 5:


Folder 1:          Rookwood Pottery: pre-Rookwood and early Rookwood


Folder 2:         Rookwood Pottery: 1893


Folder 3:          Rookwood Pottery: pre-1900


Folder 4:          Rookwood Pottery: pre-1900: Artus van Briggle (1888), John D. Wareham (1899), Japanese influence


Folder 5:          Rookwood Pottery: 1900-1910


Folder 6:          Rookwood Pottery: 1911-1920


Folder 7:          Rookwood Pottery: 1921-1930


Folder 8:          Rookwood Pottery: 1931-1950


Folder 9:          Rookwood Pottery: 1951-1970


Folder 10:        Rookwood Pottery: Norse Room (Fort Pitt Hotel, Pittsburgh)


Folder 11:        Rookwood Pottery: pieces in foreign collections


Folder 12:        Rosemeade Pottery


Folder 13:        Roseville Pottery


Folder 14:        Roseville Pottery: photos



Box 6:


Folder 1:          Shawsheen Ware


Folder 2:          Teco Pottery


Folder 3:          Tiffany


Folder 4:          Upjohn, C. B.


Folder 5:          Van Briggle


Folder 6:          Vance (later Avon)


Folder 7:          Volkmar


Folder 8:          Weller


Folder 9:          Weller: photos


Folder 10:        Wheatley, T. J.


Folder 11:        Wheeling


Folder 12:        Zanesville Potteries



Series II: Dr. Nelson’s writings


Box 6:


Folder 13:        “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: bibliography


Folder 14:        “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: draft


Folder 15:        “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: illustrations


Folder 16:        “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: text



Box 7:


Folder 1:          “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: text: draft


Folder 2:          “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: text: first carbon


Folder 3:          “The Commercial Art Pottery of Ohio”: text: second carbon


Folder 4:          “The Geography of American Art Pottery” [by Nelson?]


Folder 5:          “Indigenous Characteristics in American Art Pottery,” by Nelson, with correspondence about article


Folder 6:          Pottery lecture


Folder 7:          Resume of presentation for the art session of SASS, 1984


Folder 8:          Review of Decorative Art in Modern Interiors [reviewed by Nelson]


Folder 9:          “Scandinavian Romanticism in American Decorative Art,” by Nelson



Series III: Correspondence


Box 7:


Folder 10:        Correspondence, 1960-1962


Folder 11:        Correspondence, 1963


Folder 12:        Correspondence, 1964


Folder 13:        Correspondence, 1965


Folder 14:        Correspondence, 1966


Folder 15:        Correspondence, 1967



Box 8:


Folder 1:          Correspondence, 1968


Folder 2:          Correspondence, 1969


Folder 3:          Correspondence, 1972-1974


Folder 4:          Correspondence, 1974-1979  


Folder 5:          Correspondence, 1980s-1990s


Folder 6:          Blasberg, Robert: correspondence and articles


Folder 7:          Evans, Paul: correspondence (with copies of Charles Binns’ correspondence)


Folder 8:          Gifford, David: correspondence


Folder 9:          Mohr, Richard: correspondence



Series IV: Other files


Box 8:


Folder 10:        Aesthetic movement in America


Folder 11:        American art pottery: articles about, and general information


Folder 12:        American art pottery: articles by Charles Binns, 1916-1918


Folder 13:        American art pottery: sales notices, auction catalogs


Folder 14:        American art pottery: women involved


Folder 15:        American Art Pottery Association


Folder 16:        Art Deco pottery


Folder 17:        Art nouveau in America


Folder 18:        Art nouveau in American ceramics



Box 9:


Folder 1:          Art pottery: damage and restoration (photos)


Folder 2:          Art pottery: unidentified


Folder 3:          Art pottery: values


Folder 4:          Arts and crafts movement, American


Folder 5:          Bindesboll, Thorvald (Danish)


Folder 6:          Ceramic Arts Studio: preparation for lecture


Folders 7-8:     CAS Collector (Ceramic Arts Studio Collectors newsletter)


Folder 9:          Crystalline glazes         


Folder 10:        Decorative arts exhibit, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1964-1965


Folder 11:        Exhibit: Art Pottery of the Midwest


Folder 12:        Exhibition themes


Folder 13:        Foreign art pottery: France


Folder 14:        Foreign pottery: England, Denmark


Folder 15:        Foreign pottery: general


Folder 16:        Furniture, American: Cincinnati



Box 10:


Folder 1:          Gifts: index to photos


Folders 2-3:     Midwest art pottery exhibit at University of Minnesota, fall 1988


Folder 4:          Midwest art pottery exhibit at University of Minnesota, fall 1988: loan agreements


Folder 5:          Museums of pottery


Folder 6:          Negatives


Folder 7:          Ohio clay industry before 1910


Folder 8:          Photos: pieces form miscellaneous potteries outside Ohio


Folder 9:          Photos: several potteries on one photo


Folder 10:        Pottery: general


Folder 11:        Studio pottery


Folder 12:        Tile industry



Box 11:


Folder 1:          “Two Decades of Newcomb Pottery,” exhibition catalog, 1963


Folder 2:          plaque: certificate of appreciation given to Dr. Nelson by the Ceramic Arts Studio Collectors Association and the Wisconsin Pottery Association, 1998




Series V: Note cards, photos, and negatives



Box 12:           Rookwood Pottery: note and photos


Box 13:           Rookwood Pottery: notes


Box 14:           notes on various potteries


Box 15:           notes on potteries: arranged by state and country


Box 16:           notes on potteries: arranged by state, plus additional notes


Box 17:           notes on Weller and potteries located in Zanesville, Ohio


Box 18:           notes on Roseville and other potteries


Box 19:           miscellaneous note cards


Box 20:           Slides: Ceramic Art Society and foreign pottery


Box 21:           Slides: many illustrating different glazes


Box 22:           Slides: Ceramic Art Studio lecture and unidentified


Box 23:           Slides: unidentified


Box 24:           Slides: unidentified


Box 25:           Slides: various potteries


Boxes 26-30:  Photographs and negatives (some identified, some not)