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How to Identify Shawnee Pottery

Karen Dietzius

Shawnee pottery pieces are very sought after, but it can be difficult to identify the real thing. Shawnee pottery originated in 1937 in Zanesville, Ohio, when “Buy American” campaigns were popular. Shawnee designed a popular line of dinnerware items, cookie jars, planters, creamers and salt and pepper shakers.

In 1961, the Shawnee Pottery Company closed its doors due to overseas competition.

  1. Look on the bottom of your pottery piece for any markings such as "Shawnee," "USA," "Shawnee U.S.A.," "Kenwood" or "Great Northern." Pieces were not marked "Shawnee" until the 1950s.

  2. Check the bottom of your pottery for any style name of the line or character (such as “Smiley 60”). Sometimes the pieces were only marked with the style or character name. An original Shawnee will not have the year or a signature on the bottom.

  3. Look at the paper or foil label if it exists. It may be marked “Shawnee,” or it may have an arrow with an Indian Head inside of it.

  4. Look at the paint. Earlier productions of Shawnee pottery were cold-painted over the glaze.

  5. Check your pottery for uniform crazing. This type of cracking all over the piece is usually a sign of a fake piece.

  6. Look on the head of any cookie jaw for shamrocks, chrysanthemums, tulips or other flowers. Original Shawnee did not paint flowers on the heads.

  7. Turn your piece over to check for a raised rim or foot where the piece sat in the kiln.

  8. Look at the glaze. Most Shawnee pottery is glazed both inside and out. There may be an unglazed raised rim or foot on the bottom around the entire base. Larger pieces may not be glazed at all on the bottom. You will notice the clay with mold lines will be exposed.

  9. Compare your piece to an original, if available. Imitations are smaller than the original and often poor in quality.