Made in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the American Modernist pottery shown above was made by Haeger in East Dundee, Illinois.
German immigrant David Haeger founded the company in 1871—45 miles from Chicago—on the bank of the Fox River (a rich source of the needed clay). Initially, the company made bricks. In a twist of fate—in Haeger’s first year—the Great Chicago Fire levelled the nearby metropolis, requiring millions and millions of bricks to rebuild an improved, modern and gleaming city. Haeger was in the right place at the right time.
By the turn-of-the-century, David Haeger had brought-in his son, Edmund, to help bring the company to the next level—making more artful (and profitable) ceramic products to compete with other art pottery workshops. And, by World War I, Haeger was on its way to helping decorate the homes of the growing American middle class—a population segment which would boom considerably in the post-War years. Again, Haeger was in the right place at the right time.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the pieces shown above were made, “middle class” pottery production was already shifting from the “victor” countries (like England and the U.S.) to the “vanquished” countries (like Japan and Germany). Rising labor costs in the U.S. were already changing the landscape for American potteries (and the production of their labor-intensive products). On the other hand, countries like Japan and Germany were desperate to get their people back-to-work (after losing World War II) and could make the pottery much more cheaply—for export to America and Western Europe.
Despite the closing of most American potteries, Haeger held-on. They created innovative lines which complemented the decor and tastes of the times. They brought-in talented designers to help keep the company on the cutting edge. They made it through the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty-first. Sadly, they’ve decided they can make it no further. Next month, June 2016, will be the last for Haeger. They will shutter their doors after 145 years in East Dundee, Illinois.
Haeger collectors have been most-interested in the Mid-Century Modern (and earlier) items which continue to become more difficult to find. Please come into the shop to see the collection above—and other designs from the long-lived Haeger Pottery Company.