Made out of plaster of Paris, chalkware was used to create inexpensive versions of decorative objects such as figurines—so many small figurines like Kewpie dolls were given away as prizes at carnivals, the pieces became known as “carnival chalk.” Chalkware was also a good material for lightly used household tools such as string holders, as well as disposable advertising pieces such as three-dimensional signs. And small wall plaques of chalkware chefs made them popular decorations in kitchens.

Some chalkware pieces were formed in molds taken from Staffordshire and other popular figurines. Others were carved. In either case, the chalkware was just about always painted, usually with a water-based pigment. Because chalkware chipped easily and its fragile colors sat exposed on the surface of the pieces rather than being fired like a glaze (their beeswax or varnish coatings gave them little protection), very few pieces from the early 19th to mid-20th centuries, the heyday of the material, have survived without dings and scratches. Even pieces that survived unscathed often look dingy and careworn—because it is so fragile, chalkware essentially cannot be cleaned.

Chalkware was used to produce all sorts of animals, from roosters and parrots to lions and lambs. The material was also perfect for a range of Christmas decorations, including ornaments and small churches that could be illuminated from within by a candle. While most chalkware figures were formed from a single piece, some called nodders had separate heads and bodies.

In the United States, two of the main centers for chalkware were Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, although the pieces themselves were almost certainly the work of Italian artisans who sold their wares to penny-pinching Pennsylvania Dutch farmers. Antique chalkware can also be found through New England and in the upper Midwest.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

V&A Porcelain Figures

V&A Porcelain Figures

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of Meissen porcelain figures includes more than 150 pieces, in… [read review or visit site]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vtg. Wwii,1940"s Chalkware 'pin Up Art' Girl Figurine (out Door Theme) Signed1950's Nude Chalkware Ashtray Vintage Hawaiian Tiki PinupVintage Chalkware String Holders 1940's Lot Includes Chef Boyardee FaceVintage Immaculate Heart Of Virgin Mary Chalkware Catholic Religious StatueRare 1940's 1950's Pinup Chalkware Girl Carnival Vintage Nudie Usa1950's Nude Chalkware Pin Up Figure VintageDrewrys Beer Ale Canadian Mountie Statue With Bottle ChalkwareRare Horror Monster Tuscany Studio Chicago Chalkware Statue Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde Bossons Engineer Steam Railway Locomotive Chalkware Head 1992 EnglandEsther Hunt Signed Chalkware Bust - Plum Blossom - Nice ConditionWalnut Ridge Collectibles Hitching A Ride Chalkware Rabbit/bird Figure Bejma UsaVintage 1950s Burkhardt Brewing Akron Chalkware Mug Ale AdvertisingDuquesne Beer Sign Bar Figure Duke Chalk Man Chalkware Guy Statue Figure Nice!Vintage Mae West Chalkware Carnival Fair Prize Statue Figure 15"Vintage Bossons Chalkware Caspian Woman 1959Vintage Chalkware Easter Bunny Rabbit Candy HolderRare! Schmidt Beer Trophy Head Plaque Series - Deer - 1956 ChalkwareTwo Vintage Chalkware String Holders, Kitten & Ball Of Yarn Chef Boy-ar-deeRare! Schmidt Beer Trophy Head Plaque Series - Bear - 1956 ChalkwareVintage 1960's Bobble Head Nodder- Mets- Japan ChalkwareBosson Congleton England Explorer York Lewis Clark Chalkware Face Head NiceGorgeous Chalkware C. 1925 Flapper Half Doll With HairBossons Congleton England - 1986 - Drummer Boy - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureBossons Congleton England - Chief Tecumseh - Chalkware Wall Mask Figure1989 Bossons Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer And Sioux Chief Sitting BullVintage Walnut Ridge Primitives 1991 Rabbit Hare Figure Statue Easter Bossons Congleton England - 1985 - Robin Hood - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureVintage Lot Of 3 Chalk Ware Santa Claus Figures & 1 Chalk Ware Children CarolersEarly Vintage Chalkware Plaster Paris Easter Decoration Chick In Top Hat Nm Mary Chalk Ware Religious Statue 12" Tall Mta 706Bossons Congleton England - 1985 - Sir Henry Morgan - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureMetal Mr. Rabbit Mold For Chocolate, Candy, Chalkware Plus Antique Easter Vaillancourt Folk Art Chalkware Gorham Bunny W Egg Cart 1987 Easter RabbitBossons Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman - 1992 EnglandAntique L. L. Rittgers 1948 Police Figurine Bossons Congleton England - 1966 - English Lady - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureAntique Chalkware Half Doll & Lavender Ruffle Pin CushionBossons Congleton England - 1967 - Rawhide Cowboy - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureVintage 1950's Chalkware Wall Hanging Plaques Blue Bird 2 Dogs Retro SpanielsVintage Carnival Hollow Chalk Ware Figure Blond Girl / Boy 16"Bossons Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill 1966 Congleton England ChalkwareBossons Congleton England - 1986 - Infantry Officer - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureVintage Chalkware String Holder Chef Boy-ar-deeBossons Congleton England - 1983 - Coal Miner - Chalkware Wall Mask FigureVintage Chalk Ware Dog Figurine Carnival Chalkware Bull Dog Or Boxer Dog Statue Vintage Infant Of Prague Chalkware Statue Columbia Statuary 12" Made In ItalyPr Beautiful Vintage Sacred Heart Jesus & Mary Plaster Chalkware Busts Plaques1980 Esco Groucho Marx Vintage Chalkware StatueVintage Nubian Genie Chalkware Chalk Lamp Bases Figurines 1940's Orange BlackVintage Universal Statuary Co Horse Racing 1966 Wall Art SignedBossons Xl Head Chalkware ' Engineer' Rare Extra Large Version 1992 England Early Vintage Chalkware Plaster Paris Easter Hatching Duck Decoration1950 Vintage Chalkware Wedding Cake TopperVintage Fish Plaque Chalkware Wall Plaque Bossons Sarah Gamp - 'charles Dickens Series Composites' - 1964 EnglandPair Of Vintage Chalkware Easter Chicks6-1930s Christmas Nativity Village Putz Chalkware Sheep Hand Painted Pair Of Vintage Mid Century Hand Carved Wood Sailboat Boat Bookends From Bermuda** Vintage Amateur Hand Painted Chalkware Woman Negro/ Black Americana 1950’s.**Bossons Congleton England - 1967 - Pathan - Chalkware Wall Mask Figure