Through the eyes of a collector

Ronald Linde, MD, an ophthalmologist in private practice in Northfield, MN, went to an auction in Nebraska more than 30 years ago to buy a table. Dr. Linde remembers this because it was at this auction that he discovered and purchased a stoneware jug that was the first piece in a now expansive collection of pottery.

Red Wing stoneware was thought to be of the finest quality, according to Dr. Linde. "A very excellent quality glaze made it durable," he said.

"I started collecting Red Wing stoneware," said Dr. Linde. "Then, I added artware and dinnerware. But in addition to buying pieces, I started to do research on these products."

Collectors across the United States also look for regional pottery. Dr. Linde explained, "Business ads were stamped and fired onto stoneware, so collectors look for pieces with advertising from specific locations or businesses."

Dr. Linde said the ups and downs of the pottery industry have been indicative of the nation's economy. Red Wing Potteries, Inc. closed in 1967 due to a major labor strike, but increased competition from Japan also was a factor.

In his studies, Dr. Linde learned about Charles Murphy, who was the main designer at Red Wing Potteries from the 1940s to 1967. Dr. Linde had the opportunity to meet and video-record an interview with Murphy in Sedona, AZ, before Murphy passed away in 1994. "I learned a lot about the history of the company and about the workers there," said Dr. Linde. "Being with him enhanced my appreciation of artware and dinnerware. Charles worked with so many famous names in the industry."