Research Notes / Notes de recherche - Identifying Medalta 1916-1954: - A Guide to Markings

Research Notes / Notes de recherche

Identifying Medalta 1916-1954:

A Guide to Markings

Ronald Getty
Ester Klaiman
Glenbow Museum

Foreword

1 In 1978 the authors undertook the task of examining the collections of the Glenbow-Alberta Institute to determine the extent of the museum's Medalta holdings.1 We were rather surprised to discover that the collection consisted largely of stoneware products, particularly crocks and jugs. The few pieces of hotel china and art wares were insufficient to mount a display and hardly representative of the wide variety of products produced between 1916 and 1954, the period during which Medalta manufactured its wares.

2 In 1979 Pierre Guy of the Visual Arts Branch of Alberta Culture asked Jack Forbes of the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta to prepare an exhibition of Medalta pottery as part of Alberta's seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations. In his travels throughout Canada to examine the major Medalta collections in both private and public hands, Forbes discovered several collections that were for sale. These were brought to the attention of the authors, who had expressed the desire to add to Glenbow's holdings, and with the support of Glenbow's Acquisition Society several collections were acquired.

3 Glenbow's collection has expanded to the point where it now includes over three hundred pieces. As the collection grew and was catalogued it became readily apparent that the standard reference for Medalta by Richard and Jean Symonds2 was incomplete and in need of updating. An ever-increasing number of new stamps was being observed and therefore it became necessary to supplement their list. At the same time we found that the dating of the stamps could be refined. The body of knowledge that had been available to the Symonds had expanded considerably, particularly with the publication of Pottery in Alberta, The Long Tradition.3 This historical sketch of Medalta, coupled with information gleaned from Medalta price and order lists,4 catalogues,5 and a stock ledger,6 was examined in relation to the products and as a result we were able to refine the dates for many of the stamps.

4 Many private collectors deserve our thanks for permitting us to examine and record their collections and for providing some thoughtful comments. We are similarly indebted to several public institutions that gave free access to their Medalta collections: Provincial Museum and Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton; Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery, Medicine Hat; National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Their staff members spent considerable time working with us, often providing supplementary information and photographs. We would also like to thank the individuals whom we interviewed who were affiliated with or had first hand knowledge of Medalta Potteries Limited. Jack Barrie, Rose and Christoff Stickle, Ed Philipson, and Roy Ogilvie all provided valuable information that helped to fill in the story. Finally, we extend our thanks to Hugh Dempsey and Jack Forbes who examined the paper for errors and deficiencies.

5 This paper does not purport to be the final listing of Medalta's stamps and identification marks. Far from it, for new stamps and variations are being observed in nearly every collection that we examine. Rather, we hope that this will serve as a working paper, stimulating readers to advise us of ones not yet recorded. The dates of stamps need to be refined further and we would welcome information concerning items which bear specific names, crests, logos, or advertisements that will help in this regard.

6 In carrying out our research we examined approximately 2,000 Medalta items, many that were not recorded in the Symonds' book. In the near future we hope to publish a catalogue of Medalta products, giving the dates when new lines were introduced. Particular attention will be focussed on art wares and utilitarian household products as to date we have not seen a Medalta catalogue listing these items. Any supplementary information concerning Medalta's identification markings will be incorporated in this catalogue as the products can only be examined along with the markings that identify and date them.

Introduction

7 This paper lists and examines the various markings that are found on Medalta products produced between 1916 and 1954. The first section records the various oxide stamps, mold impressions, and paper labels that the company used to identify its wares. The second section discusses other identifying markings found on Medalta wares, usually in association with the company's name. These include size and content markings, style numbers and names, designers' names, and colour or design markings. The third section is a listing of the specific companies, firms, or businesses that engaged Medalta to produce items bearing their own names for advertising or identification purposes. This final section may seem out of place in a paper concerned with Medalta markings, but since these markings are the most helpful in dating the product and associated stamp, they are considered an integral part of this paper. The appendix illustrates all stamps, markings, and labels for which photographs or photocopy illustrations could be obtained. (They are shown in actual size, plus or minus two millimetres.7) For purposes of ready references, selected examples of these illustrations are included in the text in reduced size.

8 Before discussing the findings, a few comments should be made regarding methodology. Some trails led to confusion rather than resolution and it is hoped that these comments will keep others from making the same mistakes.

9 The first hypothesis formulated was that the style numbers8 found on art wares were issued consecutively and therefore the stamps appearing on them would also vary through time. This was wrong on several counts. First, few art wares had stamps other than the impressed ones, which did not necessarily change through time. The same mold could have been used for many years or new molds may have been produced from a master mold and hence remained unchanged. Secondly, the style numbers were not in a consecutive series. The Victory vase, style no. 131, was dated to 1945 and it was expected that higher numbers would have later dates. However, a newspaper advertisement of 19 April 1940 illustrated a lamp with style no. 415.9

10 The second hypothesis was that there would be a correlation between the size and colour of the oxide stamp and the product which carried it. Again, this was not so. Where two distinct size variations of a stamp were used, no correlation with the product could be found. Both the small and large varieties were found on large and small wares. Similarly, the colour of the oxide used for the stamp had no discernible correlation. Dark oxides were used on dark-glazed products, making the stamping all but impossible to read, whereas it had been expected that light oxides would be used on the dark-glazed wares. Informants later advised that they simply used whichever oxide happened to be the handiest10 and this indeed appears to have been the case.

11 The informants also advised that Medalta employees used whichever stamp was handiest. This may, in part, be true and could well account for some of the oddities noted, such as a hotel ware stamp being found on a piece of art ware. But on the other hand, there is no reason to assume that these products were not used in hotels for the records show that hotels did order art wares such as jardinières, vases, and lamps. If, indeed, employees used the first stamp picked up from the box, one would expect a much greater variation than that observed. Since the stamps wore out in a relatively short time, any overlap in use would probably not be significant. Although it was hoped to determine the precise years during which certain stamps were in use, when they were replaced, and so on, the evidence does not permit such a definitive sequence.

12 One other complication should be mentioned as well. Medalta Potteries (1966) Limited did mark a few products with at least one, and perhaps more, of the original Medalta stamps. This came about as a result of the company not having a small enough stamp of its own to mark some of its smaller wares.11

I. Medalta's Identification Stamps, Impressions, and Labels

13 The first section of this paper documents the various types of markings that Medalta Potteries Limited used to identify its products. The numbering system developed for this purpose has an alphabetical prefix to indicate the type of stamp - "G" for oxide stamps, "M" for mold impressions, and "P" for paper labels or decals; a numeral indicates the decade when the stamp was first used and a second number indicates the specific stamp. The variations that may be significant are indicated by an alphabetical suffix. Thus G.1.1 and G.1.2 indicate two of the oxide stamps introduced between 1916 and 1919, and the suffixes "a," "b," and "c" can be added as variations are found.

14 This system of numbering was selected to facilitate the addition of new markings as they are discovered. It seemed that they should be presented in chronological order from the earliest in use to the latest, and this system does at least permit new ones to be placed in the appropriate decade. The main weakness foreseen is that firm dates are not yet known for all the markings.' As the dating is refined, the numeral indicating the decade could well be wrong; however, it was impossible to find any numbering system that would overcome this problem.

15 To facilitate ready comparison with the Symonds' book their stamp and impression numbers (pp. 11-16) are included, with the exception of three. Their number 53 is only the identification crest of a specific customer, while numbers 49 and 62 are only product or style names. Others are considered variations rather than separate stamps and have been grouped accordingly.

a. Oxide Stamps

16 This category of stamps was applied using a rubber stamp. They appear either on the unglazed surface of ovenwares, over the glaze, or more commonly under a clear glaze. They are usually found alone, but do appear in association with the impressed markings. Individual stamps show variability in the colour of the oxide used, the overall size of the stamp, and the size and arrangement of the stamp's lettering. These variables were recorded and analyzed, but unfortunately there was no significant correlation with the type, size, or colour of the product on which they were found. Some stamps have been seen in only one size and/or colour of oxide, but since these were often the specialized or particular stamps or since the sample size was small, the suggested correlation is not considered significant. For the record, however, these are mentioned. The observed variability in the overall size of the stamps and the size and placement of the lettering is readily accounted for when one realizes that the common stamps were ordered by the dozens. They lasted for only a few months as repeated use caused wear and damage that made the stamps unusable. The colour of the oxides that were used with the stamps included black, white, red, metallic gold and silver, and various shades of blue, green, and brown.

G.1.1 (Symonds 1) 1916-24. This is believed to have been the first stamp used by Medalta. It has been observed only in blue or dark blue under a clear glaze, but some stamps are so dark that they appear to be black. The dating of this stamp and others in the G.1 series is based on the fact that the company changed its name from Medalta Stoneware Ltd. to Medalta Potteries Ltd. in 1924.
Thumbnail of Figure 1Display large image of Figure 1
G.1.2 (Symonds 3) 1916-24. This stamp, observed only in blue, is specialized one used on water filters. Since it has not been possible to determine when this product went into production, a more specific date cannot be provided, but water filters were still available in 1954. Presumably ones produced after 1924 had a different stamp, but no examples have as yet been seen.
Thumbnail of Figure 2Display large image of Figure 2
G.1.3, 1916-24. This stamp, observed only in blue under the glaze, is presumably the second stamp used by Medalta as the format of G.1.4 is more similar to G.2.1 than this one.
Thumbnail of Figure 3Display large image of Figure 3
G.1.4 (Symonds 2) 1916-24. The dimensions vary from 6.6 x 3.6 cm to 7.3 x 3.9 cm. The observed variations, which do not appear to be significant, include (1) an extended line under "NEWARE," (2) the extended line with an additional short line, sometimes blotted, above the "WA," and (3) an elongated stamp with larger than usual lettering.
Thumbnail of Figure 4Display large image of Figure 4
G.2.1 (Symonds 4) 1924-54. This stamp, in assorted oxides, has variable measurements including 6.6 x 4.1, 7.4 x 4.4, and 7.4 x 3.8 cm. At least five variations have been observed but none seems to be significant. Included are (1) a stamp with a comma after "HAT," (2) a stamp with a comma after "HAT" and a period after the word "ALBERTA," (3) a stamp with a line under "ERIE," (4) a stamp with a line under "ERIE" and a short broad line above "RI," and (5) a stamp with more delicate lettering, usually in an elongated format. It is suggested that this stamp was discontinued by 1940 as the majority of products exhibiting it are also found with later stamps, i.e., hourglass-shaped vases, bean pots, foot warmers, jugs, and chicken fountains. However, the date has been left open for now as at least four products - pickle and butter crocks, water cooler, and butter churns -have not been found with later stamps. Also very few crocks that bear other stamps have been seen, and as they were one of Medalta's main lines it is curious that other stamps are not seen more frequently. Perhaps this stamp remained in use until 1954, limited to the large stonewares.
Thumbnail of Figure 5Display large image of Figure 5
G.2.2 (Symonds 61) 1927-? A specialized stamp in blue under the glaze, found only on the egg beater jar which was introduced in 1927. When the product was discontinued has not been determined, but it does not appear in the 1952 price lists.
Thumbnail of Figure 6Display large image of Figure 6
G.3.1, 1930-43. The dating is highly speculative as this black oxide stamp has been observed only on a single hourglass-shaped vase. It is assigned this range on stylistic similarity to other stamps.
Thumbnail of Figure 7Display large image of Figure 7
G.3.2 (Symonds 45, 66) 1930-45. The measurement from "M" to "D" in "MEDALTA POTTERIES LTD.", varies from 5.2 to 5.6 cm. Several varieties were observed, including ones with and without a period after "LTD" and/or a comma after "ALBERTA." The stamp appears by itself and in association with others, particularly G.3.12 or G.3.15. Dating is based on the fact that many products carrying this stamp were initially produced during the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 8Display large image of Figure 8
G.3.3 (Symonds 46) 1930-54. The overall length varies from 6.2 cm on a miniature jug to 7.3 cm on a stoneware foot warmer. One example also had a comma after "HAT." The suggested date range is based on the stamp being found on lipped jugs which were first recorded in the Medalta stock ledger in 1931.
Thumbnail of Figure 9Display large image of Figure 9
G.3.4 (Symonds 38) 1930-? As this stamp has been seen only on one jug, its date is not certain. However, it is similar in design to other stamps dating to the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 10Display large image of Figure 10
G.3.5 (Symonds 41) 1930-40. This stamp has been observed only on a few crocks and jugs and it apparently replaced the G.2.1 stamp. If this is correct, however, one is left to wonder why it is not observed more frequently. Crocks and jugs were two of Medalta's mainstays.
Thumbnail of Figure 11Display large image of Figure 11
G.3.6 (Symonds 30) 1930-54. This stamp has been observed only on the ice-water crocks and may be a particular stamp for use on this product. The evidence so far suggests that "ICE WATER" was an integral part of the stamp rather than a separate stamp. The only other stamp observed on ice-water crocks is G.2.1.
Thumbnail of Figure 12Display large image of Figure 12
G.3.7 (Symonds 25) 1930-40. This stamp, observed mainly on products initially manufactured in the 1930s, was also on a plain cane bowl12 that was introduced in the 1920s. To date no variations have been recorded; however, one informant advised that a date was sometimes placed in the centre of this stamp.
Thumbnail of Figure 13Display large image of Figure 13
G.3.8,1930-40. Two different arrangements of the lettering are recorded in the appendix. Its dating remains tentative as this stamp has been observed on few products. The suggested dates are based on its occurrence on a cracker box and a cookie jar which were in production by 1932 and on its general similarity to G.3.7.
Thumbnail of Figure 14Display large image of Figure 14
G.3.9a (Symonds 21) and G.3.9b (Symonds 23) 1930-43. This stamp is found with two main variations, one with "CANADA" in the centre of the maple leaf and the other with "MADE IN/ CANADA." In addition, there is a marked difference in the size and placement of the encircling lettering. All these variations are grouped together since it has not been possible to determine any reason for them other than individual stamp variability. The date stems from the fact that products bearing this stamp were introduced in the 1930s.G.3.10a, G.3.10b, 1930-43. This stamp, closely related to G.3.9, is also found with two main variations and encircling lettering of different sizes. It, too, was apparently used in the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 15Display large image of Figure 15
G.3.10a, G.3.10b 1930-43. This stamp, closely related to G.3.9, is also found with two main variations and encircling lettering of different sizes. It, too, was apparently used in the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 16Display large image of Figure 16
G.3.11 (Symonds 22) 1930-43. This stamp is also closely related to the other maple leaf varieties. As only a few products bearing this stamp have been seen, its dating is not certain, but it was probably in use at the same time as the others.
Thumbnail of Figure 17Display large image of Figure 17
G.3.12a (Symonds "Gold Maple Leaf," p. 18) and G.2.12b, 1930-43. Two main size variations have been noted: a large one often found in association with G.3.2 and a smaller one usually found by itself. It first appears on decorated pitchers produced during the early 1930s, but is also found on a beer stein carrying the crest of the "RAF" (Royal Air Force).
Thumbnail of Figure 18Display large image of Figure 18
G.3.13, 1930-40. At present there is only a single recording of this stamp. Although its period of use is not yet certain, this dating range is suggested due to the use of the maple leaf motif.
Thumbnail of Figure 19Display large image of Figure 19
G.3.14, 1930-40. The limited number of occurrences of this stamp results in a tentative date, but it was found on beer steins dated 1936 and 1937. Its similarity in format to G.3.13 also suggests its use during the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 20Display large image of Figure 20
G.3.15, 1930-40. This stamp is usually found in association with others, but it has been observed as a single stamp on a few products. Informants who worked at the Medalta plant stated that any item made for the export market had to have a "MADE IN CANADA" label on it, but items for domestic use also carried it.
Thumbnail of Figure 21Display large image of Figure 21
G.3.16 (Symonds 58) 1936-43. This stamp appears to be a specialized one limited to the Stetson-shaped ashtray. Dating is based on this product's first appearance in the stock ledger. The stamp was probably discontinued in 1943 as two ashtrays had stamp G.4.3 rather than this one.
Thumbnail of Figure 22Display large image of Figure 22
G.3.17 (Symonds 52) 1937-43. The size variability has not been determined and it has been observed only in various shades of green under the glaze. Once again, only a few products carried this stamp and they could all be classified as hotel wares.
Thumbnail of Figure 23Display large image of Figure 23
G.3.18a (Symonds 16) and G.3.18b (Symonds 18) 1937-43. The main variation noted is a distinct size difference between Symonds 16 (2 cm in diameter) and 18 (2.7 cm in diameter), although another variation of "b" exhibits more pronounced lettering. None of these appear to be significant, but admittedly the sample size is small. These stamps have been observed only on hotel wares.
Thumbnail of Figure 24Display large image of Figure 24
G.3.19 (Symonds 39) 1937-43. The only variation noted was one stamp which was 2 mm smaller in diameter, with "MADE IN" and "CANADA" closer together than usual. This stamp, observed mainly on items classified as hotel wares, was also found on a chicken fountain and a bean pot. Possibly it was in use earlier, but due to similarities to G.3.20 it was given the same date range.
Thumbnail of Figure 25Display large image of Figure 25
G.3.20a (Symonds 19) and G.3.20b, 1937-43. The main variation observed is one of size, but the positioning of the letters also differs. The dating is still problematical but the stamp appears to have been replaced in the 1940s, at least for the hotel wares. The fact that it appears on vases with style numbers 603, 604, 804, 805, and 1000 suggests that it may have been in use longer. There is currently no evidence for its use prior to the production of hotel wares in 1937.
Thumbnail of Figure 26Display large image of Figure 26
G.3.21 (Symonds 14) 1937-43. No variations have been observed, but the sample size is small. Although it was found mainly on hotel wares, it was also noted on a lamp.
Thumbnail of Figure 27Display large image of Figure 27
G.3.22a (Symonds 13) and G.3.22b, 1939-43. The main variation noted was a stamp without the rectangular border. However, the month designation also varies as "MAR," "APR," "MAY," and "AUG" have been observed. This stamp has been found only on hotel wares so far. This may have been used during the Second World War when Medalta was required to produce products for the armed services.13 The month designation may have been required for proof of quotas; however, confirmation of this will have to await examination of more items.
Thumbnail of Figure 28Display large image of Figure 28
G.3.23 (Symonds 65) 1937-43. This stamp has been found only in green under the glaze so far and no variations have been observed, but once again the sample size is extremely small. As the stamp has been seen only on hotel wares, it is dated to 1937.
Thumbnail of Figure 29Display large image of Figure 29
G.3.24 (Symonds 51) 1937-43. The size variability has not been determined and it has been observed only in green under the glaze. Only a few examples of this stamp have been seen which suggests that it was not in use for any length of time. Because it is one of the hotel china stamps, it cannot date earlier than 1937.
Thumbnail of Figure 30Display large image of Figure 30
G.3.25 (Symonds 17, 15) 1939-54. Variations, other than lettering of different sizes, include one example where "POTTERIES" and "MEDICINE HAT" are the same length and another with the numeral "2" below the stamp. Symonds 15, with the separate word "SECOND" below the stamp, is considered to be another minor variation rather than a separate stamp. This stamp is one of the commonest ones found on Medalta products and it appears to have been used to mark all items designated for home use. However, it has been observed on hotel ware as well. Its use in 1939 is recorded on a dated square jug that was made for E.A. Toshach of Drumheller.
Thumbnail of Figure 31Display large image of Figure 31
G.4.1 1940-45. This stamp, in brown under the glaze, has been observed only on the Winston Churchill jug produced ca. 1940, and it is undoubtedly the copyright number for this particular piece. Whether or not it was produced after the war still has to be determined.
Thumbnail of Figure 32Display large image of Figure 32
G.4.2, 1940-54. Since this stamp has been observed only on a few vases it cannot be dated precisely. A relatively late date is suggested as the vases have high style numbers.
Thumbnail of Figure 33Display large image of Figure 33
G.4.3 (Symonds 5) 1943-49. The variations observed in this stamp are numerous. As far as can be determined, however, they are not significant or useful for further refinement of the date range. They include (1) ommission of "IN," (2) ommission of "N" in "IN" - this appears to be a faulty stamp rather than a different one as "I" is in the same position as for "IN," (3) one with "1949" below the stamp, presumably a date, (4) additional numerals found in various positions around the stamp - an oval or "0," and "1," "2," "3," and "502" have been observed and these numerals are found both right side up, upside down, and sideways in relationship to the main stamp, and (5) variously positioned letters or figures, including a "V," "C," or star. The significance of these letters and the numerals listed above has not been determined. This stamp was probably introduced in 1943. The Medalta hotel china catalogue states that the specifications laid down by the American Standards for Testing Material Society (which had been approved and accepted in 1943 by the U.S. Federal Government), thereupon referred to as the "Federal Specifications for Vitrified Chinaware," were being met or exceeded by Medalta.15 From this it is inferred that stamps bearing "VITRIFIED" cannot be earlier than 1943. It is also suggested that the dated stamps G.5.1 to G.5.4 replaced this one. This stamp appears to have been used on all products. Although it is most commonly observed on hotel wares, it is also found on coloured wares and a few art wares which could have been produced for domestic use.
Thumbnail of Figure 34Display large image of Figure 34
G.4.4, 1949-54. This stamp is obviously related to the dated ones used during the 1950s. As it cannot be dated precisely, it has been given a broad range. Informants dated the Medalta hotel china catalogue to 1948 and, as it illustrated stamp G.4.3, it is assumed that this one is later. Perhaps the "4" indicates 1949, but if so one would expect to find a 1950 stamp, which has not yet been seen. It is definitely not a damaged G.5.4 as the alignment of the "4" differs.
Thumbnail of Figure 35Display large image of Figure 35
G.5.1 (Symonds 6) 1951. This stamp is sometimes associated with large numerals of unknown function and origin. This large numeral and the one associated with G.5.3 may not be Medalta's markings at all, but rather an inventory number of a dealer or auctioneer. The stamp is predominantly found on hotel wares but it was observed on the Cypress pitcher as well.
Thumbnail of Figure 36Display large image of Figure 36
G.5.2 (Symonds 7) 1952. Variations include a larger "52" and quite frequently only the "2" of "52" is present. This latter variation may be a distinct stamp, but as the "2" coincides with the "2" of "52," it is thought to be a faulty stamp. It has been observed only on hotel wares.
Thumbnail of Figure 37Display large image of Figure 37
G.5.3 (Symonds 8) 1953. This stamp is sometimes associated with a large numeral or a small one above the stamp. The significance of these numbers is not presently known. The stamp commonly appears on the hotel wares, but it was also on an ashtray advertising Gault Brothers of Vancouver, a mixing bowl, baby plate, and jardinière.
Thumbnail of Figure 38Display large image of Figure 38
G.5.4 (Symonds 9) 1954. All but one example of the products examined have an additional small numeral "2" at the top right-hand side of the stamp. It, too, has been found only on hotel wares.
Thumbnail of Figure 39Display large image of Figure 39
G.5.5, 1954. This specialized stamp was used to mark items produced for the Wales Hotel, Calgary. The fact that it bears the numerals "5....4" is further evidence that the vitrified numeral stamps are indeed the year of manufacture. Presumably the registration refers to the decorative patterns on the china, which include a cowboy on a rearing horse and the brands "FD9," "S," and "E3" pierced by an arrow.
Thumbnail of Figure 40Display large image of Figure 40
G.5.6 (Symonds 34) 1950-54. The only variation of this metallic silver stamp that has been observed is the addition of "CANADA" below "BY MEDALTA." However, "CANADA" appears to be a separate stamp as it diverges from the main lettering. This specialized stamp refers to the decorative patterns on the products. To date a ram (as shown in Symonds' illustration no. 148, p.27), an antlered white-tail deer's head, and a squirrel have been seen. A precise date for the stamp has not been set, but the pitcher on which it appears was not introduced before 1937, as inferred by the other stamps found on it. It probably dates to the 1950s as the general style of the stamp is similar to the one for the Wales Hotel, G.5.5.
Thumbnail of Figure 41Display large image of Figure 41
G.5.7, 1950-54. This specialized stamp, found only in metallic silver, is obviously related to the one above. The registration once again refers to the decorative motifs on products. As it has been observed only on hotel wares, it must date after 1937, but it probably dates to the 1950s as it is also similar to the dated Wales Hotel stamp. The decorative patterns include a branding scene with a mounted cowboy dragging a roped calf, crossed branding irons, cowboy boots with an encircling bull whip, a bridle and reins, and a saddle.
Thumbnail of Figure 42Display large image of Figure 42
G.5.8, 1950-54. This stamp is another specialized one, observed only in green under the glaze, marking hotel china produced for J.J. Supply of Edmonton. The suggested date range is based on design similarity to other stamps as there has not yet been time to research it.
Thumbnail of Figure 43Display large image of Figure 43
G.5.9a ("Series 1") and G.5.9b ("Series 2") 1950-54. The dating of this pair of stamps is highly speculative as they have been observed on a limited number of products. Presumably they are related to the "CATTLE COUNTRY" and the "MOUNTAIN TRAILS" designs which also depict western scenes.
Thumbnail of Figure 44Display large image of Figure 44
G.5.10, 1954. Dating of this stamp is based on the fact that it was printed over G.5.4. One informant advised that the 1952 Medalta owners produced wares under new names, which he could not recall, and that others had no Medalta markings at all. This stamp is undoubtedly one of the new names, but to date it has been observed only on hotel china made for the Ranchmen's Club of Calgary.
Thumbnail of Figure 45Display large image of Figure 45
G.5.11, 1954. The dating of this stamp is based on inference, it being similar to the previous one. Although this rubber stamp was obtained in a collection of stamps used by Medalta Potteries, it was not identified as a Medalta stamp until the "Aristocrat" stamp was found. To date no product has been seen bearing this stamp.
Thumbnail of Figure 46Display large image of Figure 46

b. Impressed Markings

17 The majority of these impressions appear to have been produced by incorporating them directly in the mold; however, a few were obviously produced by impressing a stamp into the wet clay (e.g., M.3.7). As the latter are so few in number, it was decided to include them in this section.

18 This category of markings is all but impossible to date. Their appearance can seldom be used to date the product as the same mold could have been in use from initial production to discontinuation of the product. Furthermore, mold markings are often difficult to read or even to detect. As the mold was repeatedly used, the impression became worn or, if the glaze was heavy, it was often filled in.

19 The evidence suggests that mold markings were not in use prior to the 1920s. Most appear to have been introduced during the 1930s when Medalta started producing its art wares.

M.2.1a, M.2.1b (Symonds 63), M.2.1c (Symonds 26), M.2.1e (Symonds 57) 1920-54. This impression, in block letters, has been observed in five varieties: (1) parallel, (2) diverging to conform to the shape of the vase, (3) in an arc, (4) around the full curve, and (5) around the full curve but with "MEDALTA" reversed. The size varies with the size of the product, but it was not possible to take specific measurements as the items are not held in Glenbow's collection. Probably these impressions were largely used after 1930, but because varieties "c" and "d" were observed on a rabbit feeder and a globe teapot respectively, in production during the 1920s, they are given a broad date range. Variety "b" has been observed only on art wares produced after 1930, "e" was found on an undated crock and "a" appeared on a mixing bowl dating to 1954.
Thumbnail of Figure 47Display large image of Figure 47
M.2.2a, M.2.2b (Symonds 11) 1920-54. Size is highly variable, depending on the size of the product, and ranges from 6.5 to 8.3 cm, measured between the extremities of the "M" and the "A." Two main varieties have been noted, one with "MEDALTA/MEDICINE HAT" parallel and the other in which it encircles the base. Dating is based on the fact that this impression is found on some jam or marmalade jars and fluted bowls illustrated in the 1924 Medalta catalogue.16
Thumbnail of Figure 48Display large image of Figure 48
M.3.1 (Symonds 10) 1930-45. Possibly a specialized mold impression as it has been seen only on a single product, a jardinière.17 The suggested date is based on the statement of a Medalta employee that lacquer wares were discontinued in the early 1940s.
Thumbnail of Figure 49Display large image of Figure 49
M.3.2, 1930-54. This impression may have been designed for the product as it has been observed only on a pudding bowl.
Thumbnail of Figure 50Display large image of Figure 50
M.3.3a (Symonds 43), M.3.3b, M.3.3c (Symonds 17) 1930-54. This impression appears in three variations: (1) straight, (2) curved around the top edge, and (3) curved around the bottom edge. Its size is highly variable with "a" ranging from 8.1 to 9.5 cm, and "b" and "c" from 6.2 to 6.8 cm, as measured between the bottom extremities of the "M" and "A." Initial use after 1930 is suggested because it is most frequently seen on art wares. It was observed on a chamber pot which is illustrated in the 1924 catalogue,18 but these early pieces were probably unmarked.
Thumbnail of Figure 51Display large image of Figure 51
M.3.4, 1930-54. This impression has been observed on the globe and low Boston styles of teapot, the globe being produced in the mid-1950s and the other in the 1950s for the Ranchmen's Club. The length of "CANADA," measured to the outer extremities, is 3.4 and 2.8 cm respectively.
Thumbnail of Figure 52Display large image of Figure 52
M.3.5 (Symonds 64) 1930-54. This "MADE IN CANADA" impression, seen on only a few products, has always been sharp and clear, which suggests that it was produced using a metal stamp.
Thumbnail of Figure 53Display large image of Figure 53
M.3.6 (Symonds 24, 64) 1931-54. This impression, varying from 2 to 3.2 cm, appears to have been produced using a metal stamp. It was found on a biscuit barrel with lugs for a wire handle, several cookie jars, vases, and a baby cup. "HAND MADE" may indicate that the product was thrown by hand rather than being formed in a mold. Originally it was thought that the words indicated hand decoration, but the biscuit barrel was undecorated. Although a broad date range has been given, use was probably limited to the early 1930s. Medalta could make money only through the sale of its mass-produced wares, and the handmade ones probably represent trial productions which led to the making of molds.
Thumbnail of Figure 54Display large image of Figure 54
M.3.7 (Symonds 24, 64, 35) 1931-54. This impression was produced using a metal stamp as the lettering is usually accented with a border. Several stamps were used with the size varying from 1.8 to 2.6 cm. "MEDALTA" and "HAND MADE" have been designated as separate stampings because they are not always found together and because the spatial arrangement of the impressions vary from appearing directly below one another to appearing on separate areas of the product.
Thumbnail of Figure 55Display large image of Figure 55
M.3.8 (Symonds 40) 1930-54. This impression ranges from 5.9 to 7.1 cm in length. The lettering is generally the same style as M.3.9 but considerably larger. Initial use during the 1930s is suggested as it is most frequently found on items introduced during that decade.
Thumbnail of Figure 56Display large image of Figure 56
M.3.9a (Symonds 20, 28, 29, 55) 1932-54. This marking is perhaps the most common impression, and it exhibits a great size range depending upon the size of the product. "MEDALTA" ranges from 3.8 cm on a deer-shaped planter19 to 5.5 cm on a bulb bowl, style no. 21. The various Symonds impressions have been grouped together since all are in block letters and because the additional size designations, style names, or numbers are not considered to be an integral part of the marking. This marking is mainly found on art wares, suggesting initial use during the 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 57Display large image of Figure 57
M.3.9b (Symonds 37, 59) 1932-54. This impression differs from M.3.9a in being located around the lower curve. Once again the size range is great, from 4.2 to 7.9 cm as measured on a straight line between the extremities of "M" and "A." This marking, predominantly observed on lamp bases, is also found in broken variety in which it is separated into "MED" and "ALTA" by a lug.
Thumbnail of Figure 58Display large image of Figure 58
M.3.9c (Symonds 67) 1932-54. A few lamp bases and the Czma pitcher have "MEDALTA" around the upper curve and, once again, the broken variety is observed on lamp bases.
Thumbnail of Figure 59Display large image of Figure 59
M.3.10, 1930-54. This impression was probably designed to fit the product as it has been observed only on the globe teapot.20
Thumbnail of Figure 60Display large image of Figure 60
M.3.11 (Symonds 44) 1930-54. This commonly observed mold marking shows the greatest size range of the impressed ones. "MADE IN CANADA" varies from 5.4 cm to 11.3 cm in length.
Thumbnail of Figure 61Display large image of Figure 61
M.3.12 (Symonds 12) 1931-54. This may be another specialized marking as it has been observed only on vases marked style no. 104. This vase was first listed in the stock ledger under no. 104 in 1931 although it was in production as early as 1922 when it was listed as a cut-flower vase.21
Thumbnail of Figure 62Display large image of Figure 62
M.3.13 (Symonds 27, 48, 54) 1930-54. This is also one of the commonly seen mold impressions. The measurement of "MEDICINE HAT" varies from 5.2 to 6.6 cm and the alignment of the lettering shows great diversity. It is largely on wares introduced in the 1930s, but has been observed on a jardinière in production by 1924.
Thumbnail of Figure 63Display large image of Figure 63
M.3.14 (Symonds 36) 1930-54. This may be a particular marking as it has been observed only on a jardinière which was in production by 1924.22 As this jardinière was available in various sizes the impression could vary in length, but to date this marking has been observed only on the one size. The smaller jardinière exhibited stamp M.3.13.
Thumbnail of Figure 64Display large image of Figure 64
M.3.15 (Symonds 31) 1931-54. This marking was observed only on a single product, vase no. 104.23 The heavily glazed impression was difficult to read but close examination indicates that the last word was "CANADA" rather than "ALBERTA." Measurements were not possible due to the poor impression.
Thumbnail of Figure 65Display large image of Figure 65
M.3.16 (Symonds 56) 1932-54. This marking appears to be a specialized one as it has been seen only on vase no. 1.24
Thumbnail of Figure 66Display large image of Figure 66
M. 3.17, 1930-40. This impression has been observed on some globe teapots and a small bowl. Its overall similarity to M.3.16 suggests that they date about the same time, but the only firm date on record is 1935.
Thumbnail of Figure 67Display large image of Figure 67
M.3.18 (Symonds 42) 1937-43. This impression was apparently made with a metal stamp prior to glazing the product. It has been observed in two sizes, 1.9 and 2.2 cm in diameter. It has been observed only on hotel china and was presumably in use for a short time. It is obviously related to the oxide stamp of the same design, G.3.20.
Thumbnail of Figure 68Display large image of Figure 68
M.4.1 (Symonds 60) 1940-54. The different arrangement of "MADE IN CANADA" distinguishes this impression from the others. It appears to have been designed to fit the Cypress pitcher. Suggested dating is based on the association of this marking with G.4.3 and G.5.1. It could well have been used in the 1940s as the Cypress pitcher is illustrated in the 1950 Ashdown's catalogue.25
Thumbnail of Figure 69Display large image of Figure 69

c. Paper Labels and Decals

20 Because few examples of applied stickers have been seen, the dates during which they were in use are not certain. Probably other varieties existed, but since they were produced using a gummed paper with poor adhesion they were easily lost. Medalta informants suggested that they were used to mark products that had no other clear Medalta identification mark. While this may be true, there are examples where a sticker has been applied next to a clear mold marking. The Medalta staff offered a second explanation: any products made for the export market had to clearly indicate Canadian manufacture and the gummed labels could have filled this requirement.

P.3.la (Symonds 33) and P.3.lb (Symonds 50) 1930-54. This gummed label is found in two varieties: (1) black lettering against a silver background and (2) silver lettering on black. They have been observed only on a few lamps and since lamps were first introduced in 1930, the stickers are dated no earlier than this.
Thumbnail of Figure 70Display large image of Figure 70
P.3.2, 1930-54. This label with white lettering on a dark blue or navy background has been observed only on a single product, vase no. 69. This style of vase was apparently not produced before 1936 when it first appears in the Medalta stock ledger.
Thumbnail of Figure 71Display large image of Figure 71
P.3.3, 1930-54. This multicoloured decal has a yellow, red, and green maple leaf above the gold scroll with black lettering. It has always been associated with other markings, never seen by itself, and has been observed only on cookie jars and a vase which were first produced in the early 1930s.
Thumbnail of Figure 72Display large image of Figure 72

d. Combined Stamps

21 The following chart lists the markings that are combined on a given product together with the dates that have been assigned to them. Eventually such a chart will help to date a specific product more precisely, but that will have to await examination of more products and confirmation of the suggested dates. If the dates are correct, however, then it should be possible to state, for example, that items bearing stamps G.3.8 and M.3.7 (1930-40 and 1931-54) date 1931-40 rather than 1930-54.

Ⅱ. Other Identification Markings

22 Medalta's identification mark is often found in association with other markings that served to define the product more fully, particularly for stock-taking purposes. The majority of these were produced in the mold, but some were applied using various coloured oxides, usually black or white. These additional markings have been categorized as those defining the size of the product, those identifying a particular style or brand name, those bearing the name of the designer, and those indicating a particular colour or motif.

a. Size or Content Markings

23 These markings are usually produced in the mold but occasionally appear in ink and grease pencil and are usually found on a wide variety of products. Crocks, jugs, churns, pickle jars, and ice-water coolers usually bore a prominent indication of the gallons held, made by a stamp under the glaze. Some of these products and others, such as chicken fountains, often had an impressed numeral on the bottom as well. The impressed numerals found on bean pots indicate quarts, pints appear on pitchers, ounces are found on creamers, and one bowl, probably for butter, was impressed "2 LB" [sic]. "Trade sizes" such as 24, 30, 36, 42, and 60 are impressed into the bottom of teapots and at least one type of small bowl, perhaps a sugar or candy bowl. They indicate that the item held 8, 6, 5, 4, and 1 cups respectively. One teapot was impressed "6 CUPS" rather than the trade number. The impression found on vases indicates height, while those on bowls, pie plates, casseroles, and jardinières indicate the effective inside diameter of the product.

b. Style and Name Identification

24 The most common impression found on the majority of Medalta's art wares was called a "potter's" number by the Symonds. This numerical designation is usually prefaced by an impressed "No.", but sometimes only the numeral is found. These markings were not always permanent. Some were occasionally applied over the finish using ink and, in one instance, grease pencil. This number was believed to designate a specific mold until it was found on products that were different sizes. However, the shapes were the same; only the size differed. It seems likely that this was a style number, used for stock-taking purposes as well as on order forms and catalogues to identify the specific wants of a customer. Unfortunately, as no Medalta art ware catalogues have been seen, it has not been possible to confirm this hypothesis.

25 The first appearance of style numbers in the Medalta stock ledger was in 1931. Prior entries refer to the items by name alone. As it was in 1930 that Medalta started designing and producing its diversified line of art wares, any products bearing a style number probably date from that time. It is unlikely that the few vases and jardinières in production during the 1920s had a style number, but some of the later molds for these products apparently had the style number incorporated.

26 Medalta also assigned names to specific styles. These are usually found in association with the style or shape number, but not always, as in the case of the "Cypress" and "Czma" pitchers. These names have always been in script and the majority have appeared on vases. "Polygon," however, is found on a variety of products, including a teapot, mixing bowl, casserole dish, bulb bowl (style no. 21), and a jardinière (no. 23). The names observed on vases include "Asia" (no. 2), "Edward" (no. 3), "Hexagon" (no. 60), "Amour" (no. 65), "Betty" (no. 70), "Mikado" (no. 90), and "Victory" (no. 131). The Medalta inventory ledger suggests that "Egyptian" may be on vase no. 61, "Rosetta" on vase no. 62, and perhaps "Spills" or "Duco" on some vases no. 104. To date, however, no examples of these pieces have been seen, only pictures of the products or references to them in the inventory ledger.

c. Designer Names

27 So far only one product bearing the designer's name has been seen - the Winston Churchill jug. It is in script, impressed into the mold, and appears to read "Carter Scott" though the surname is not clear. Presumably other designers' names will be found, but they will probably be few in number. The majority of Medalta's design work was done by Tom Hulme and the only products seen bearing his name are those marked with stamp G.5.9. Apparently Carter Scott did not work for Medalta, and perhaps only those items designed out side the plant had the designer's name impressed into them.

d. Colour or Motif Markings

28 Many Medalta products carry numbers which were apparently used to indicate the type of finish applied to the raw product. These numbers refer to the colour of glaze or lacquer, the stencilled or embossed design, or the combination of colour and design. That they were used for this purpose was determined from the inventory ledger which had the number, finish, and product listed together.

29 These numbers are usually penned in oxide as suffixes to the impressed style number, separated by a penned slash. However, some exceptions to this have been observed. One cookie jar carried the penned number "5/49" applied on the lacquer finish; "49" indicated the green tulip pattern, but the meaning of "5" is still unknown. The second exception was a vase, style no. 71, which had "37/36" prominently scratched into the clay prior to glazing. Presumably "37/36" refers to the opaque white glaze on which is found alternating yellow and blue daisies, each with a coloured stem and leaves below; however, these numbers were not listed in the inventory ledger.

30 The following two lists, of "confirmed" and "unconfirmed" markings, contain all relevant information found in the inventory ledger. The first list gives the numerical code and the corresponding colour or motif term, as entered in the ledger, which match the numerals and finishes seen on actual products. In a few cases the ledger recorded only the number and therefore the specific colour or motif term is not presently known.

Confirmed Markings
Thumbnail of Table 2Display large image of Table 2

31 The second list includes numerical designations alone as well as those which had the numeral matched to a specific colour or motif. While none of these numbers has yet been found on products, it is expected that they will be confirmed as more art wares are examined. The list shows several incongruities. Some glazes appearing to be the same have different numbers, while other, obviously different glazes were given the same numbers. Some of these may be transcriptional errors, but as they appeared on listings for different years, they may simply reflect a glaze change from one year to the next. The duplications are presented as recorded.

Unconfirmed Markings
Thumbnail of Table 3Display large image of Table 3

Ⅲ. Businesses and Institutions Utilizing Medalta Products

32 During the late 1920s and possibly earlier, Medalta started producing items that carried the name of a specific product or firm. Many of these were special orders from merchants who wanted both to advertise their business or products and to thank their customers for their patronage by giving them a small gift. These highly prized items, now commonly called "advertiques" by collectors, are some of the most useful products for dating Medalta's stamps and products since they can be pinpointed to a specific year. One company in particular, Ogilvie Flour Mills, entered into a joint venture with its retailers or agents to provide gifts of measuring cups, pitchers, and sugar bowls which advertised both the milling products and the store that carried them. Equally useful for dating purposes are those items carrying a monogram or name. Many of the hotel wares produced after 1937 were prominently marked with the name of the hotel, restaurant, or institution that was using Medalta's vitrified hotel china.

33 This section lists those merchants, businesses, or institutions which are believed to have used Medalta products, as well as all monograms, names, and other lettering which might have been custom-ordered. The starred (*) ones have actually been seen on products; the others are thought to be custom orders on the basis of rubber stamps which have been seen, correspondence requesting products, or specific references in Medalta's records. The individual wording and style of lettering varies from stamp to stamp and it was not possible to record the full markings here. The underlined words indicate those which appear in script; the others are reproduced more or less as they appear in upper and lower case. The authors' comments are included in brackets. For convenience the Ogilvie items have been separated from the rest because they comprise such a large grouping.

a. Ogilvie's "Advertiques"

34 The Ogilvie stamps generally fall into one of two basic formats, round or oval, as illustrated:

b. Other Custom-Ordered Products

NOTES
1 Medalta wares as referred to in the paper include the products produced in Medicine Hat, Alta. by Medalta Stoneware Limited, 1916-24, which became Medalta Potteries Limited from 1924 to 1954. The plant which reopened briefly in 1958 and was destroyed by fire in 1959 and Medalta Potteries (1966) Limited of Redcliff, Alta., are not examined in this paper.
2 Richard and Jean Symonds, Medalta Stoneware and Pottery for Collectors (Surrey, B.C.: Symco Distributors, 1974).
3 Marylu Antonelli and Jack Forbes, Pottery in Alberta, The Long Tradition (Edmonton, Alta.: University of Alberta Press, 1978).
4 Medalta Potteries Limited Price List, 14 September 1922, 1 September 1952, July 1953; Medalta Potteries Limited Order Form, 1 March 1927; F.W. Woolworth Co. Ltd. Prices on Stoneware; Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta. (Photocopies held by Glenbow Museum Archives, Calgary, Alta.)
5 Medalta Potteries Limited Catalogue No. 1 (Medicine Hat, Alta.: Medalta Potteries Ltd., 1924), Provincial Archives of Alberta (photocopy in Glenbow Museum Archives); Catalogue of Vitrified Hotel and Restaurant China, Ovenware and Stoneware (Medicine Hat, Alta.: Medalta Potteries Ltd., n.d. [ca. 1948], Glenbow Museum Archives; unbound pages from Medalta Catalogue, n.d. [ca. 1932], Glenbow Museum Archives.
6 Medalta Potteries Inventory Ledger, January 1928 to December 1936, Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery, Medicine Hat. (Photocopy held by Glenbow Museum Archives.)
7 Measurements for M.3.15 are approximate. Illustrations M.2.1a, M.2.16b, M.3.9c, and M.3.15 are composites of various stamps; the style and overall length of the lettering are known but photographs of the actual markings are not available.
8 See sub-section Ⅱ.b. below for an explanation of style numbers.
9 Lethbridge Herald, 19 April 1940.
10 Interviews with Jack Barrie, Rose and Christoff Stickle, Ed Philipson, and Roy Ogilvie, Medicine Hat, Alta., 21-22 August 1980, Glenbow Museum Archives.
11 The example seen was a cup bearing stamp G.3.19.
12 Medalta Catalogue No. 1, p. 14. Many Medalta products, including examples of this mixing bowl, are unmarked. These pieces probably predated the stamped ones since a disproportionate number of items illustrated in the 1924 Medalta Catalogue are unmarked as compared to products which were introduced after 1930 and which are usually well marked.
13 Antonelli and Forbes, Pottery in Alberta, p.111.
14 Ibid., p. 127.
15 Catalogue of Vitrified Hotel China, p. 30.
16 Medalta Catalogue No. 1. pp.18, 20.
17 Symonds, Medalta Pottery, p.19, ill.11.
18 Medalta Catalogue No. 1, p.22.
19 Symonds, Medalta Pottery, p.41, ill.322.
20 Ibid., p.33, ill.211.
21 Medalta Potteries Limited Price List, 14 September 1922.
22 Medalta Catalogue No. 1, p.23, right-hand illustration.
23 Symonds, Medalta Pottery, p.19, ill.27.
24 Ibid., p.25, ill.98.
25 Ashdown Catalogue Sept. 1950 (Calgary. Alta.: J.H. Ashdown Hardware Co. Limited, 1950), p.89.
26 One cannot be certain that all the rubber stamps were used to mark products. Some, such as "COMPLIMENTS," "MEDALTA SALES," "SALES LTD LACHINE, QUE.", and "TEST," may have had other uses.