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Pottery collectors return to convention roots

Art pottery collectors will find a pair of Red Wing cowboy figures designed by Charles Murphy at the annual auction July 6. A second auction is set for July 8. Photo by Stacy Wegner / Red Wing Collectors Society 1 / 3
The Red Wing Collectors Society 2017 auction will feature a rare Potters Excursion advertising jug. Photo by Stacy Wegner / Red Wing Collectors Society2 / 3
A 10-gallon salt-glaze water cooler, hand-painted with a cobalt butterfly, is one of the top pieces consigned to the Red Wing Collectors Society members-only auction, which will be 4:30 p.m. July 6 at the National Guard Armory. Photo by Stacy Wegner / Red Wing Collectors Society3 / 3

Red Wing pottery and stoneware collectors are going "Back to the Future" at the 40th annual Red Wing Collectors Society convention July 6-8.

Because of construction activity at Red Wing High School, the society has moved most convention activities to Minnesota State College Southeast across Highway 58 and to the National Guard Armory on East Seventh Street.

Several conventions and auctions were held at those sites during the early years.

The third location for activities during convention week will be the Pottery Museum of Red Wing.

Collectors are expected to show up starting this weekend so they can spend the week searching out vintage stoneware, art pottery and dinnerware at the city where it was made.

It's always a prime week for garage sales and vendor sales. The parking lot outside the Pottery Museum will be especially busy for several days, spokesmen said.

In addition, Houghton's Auction Service will hold two public auctions featuring Red Wing items at 3 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Bluffs in Hager City.

The convention unofficially begins Wednesday, July 5, with the annual "Wine-ing for Red Wing" fundraiser at 6 p.m. at the Pottery Museum. Open to the public, it includes silent and oral auctions, food and music reflecting a "Back to the '50s" theme and a new exhibit. Tickets are $20.

Thursday and Friday events for members will be headquartered at Minnesota State College Southeast, located on Pioneer Road. Activities include programs for children and young collectors, pottery demonstrations by Richard Spiller and displays created by members showcasing their collections.

The annual commemorative will be unveiled Thursday morning, July 6, at the college. The keynote address there will feature a panel of collectors representing the past 40 years. Charter members will be recognized.

That evening there will be a members-only auction at 4:30 p.m. at the armory, featuring more than 250 pieces consigned by members. Rare pieces at the auction will include a coveted Potters Excursion jug, a signed salt-glaze water cooler with butterfly, and a "holy water" piece, officials said.

Friday's activities include educational seminars at the college and a Crock Hop at the Pottery Museum.

Saturday, July 8, is another major public event — a show and sale at the armory. The sale is open to members at 9 a.m. and to the public from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

The Goodhue County Historical Society is handling concessions at the armory this year. Because events at the armory on Thursday and Saturday are expected to draw large crowds, the society has arranged for shuttle service from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing parking lot, just down the street, to the armory and back. It will run 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 8.

During the week there will be a Crock Hunt — a scavenger hunt to locate Red Wing pieces on display in local businesses. A form will be available in the convention supplement distributed in the Republican Eagle and on the society's Website. Completed forms must be brought to the show and sale on Saturday.

The convention will close Saturday night with a banquet at Mount Frontenac Golf Course.

The Red Wing Collectors Society, which is open to everyone, was established in 1977 and currently has some 3,000 members worldwide. The RWCS is on Twitter and Facebook, and has its own Facebook Chapter for collectors.

People can join during the convention at the college; a year's membership is $35 for adults. For information or to join before the convention, call the business office at 800-977-7927, e-mail or go online to