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]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage C.1950 Falstaff Beer 17" Chalkware Statue W/bottle SignVintage C.1950 Fox Deluxe Beer 12" Chalkware Statue W/bottle SignAntique 5 Cent Plaster Pug Cigar Tobacco Advertising Statue Chalkware Bull DogVintage Carnival Chalkware Stripper DancerVintage C.1950 Pfeiffer's Beer 14" Chalkware Statue Sign1940's Chalkware Hitler SkunkHula Dancer 1950's-60's Plaster Chalkware Hawaii Vintage Antique Hawaiian Hula Girl Grass Skirt ChalkwareVintage Carnival Chalkware Mae West Original Paint 14 1/2"Early Primitive Antique Carved Wood Butter Dish Knife & Chalkware Molded ButterBossons Crown Collection In Mint Condition Gorilla Group1943 Superman Carnival Prize - 15 Inch Chalkware StatueVintage Bossons Hanging Head Plaques Chalkware Bosson Collectable Heads JoblotAntique French Statue Virgin Mary Plaster Chalkware Raphael Casciani Paris Xix CVintage "bossons" Made In England Chalkware Head "sitting Bull And Custer"Vintage "bossons" Made In England Chalkware Head Plaque "clipper Captain"Vtg 12" Seahorses ~ Class Wall Art~ 1950s Chalkware~ Mermaid Bath Decor~ Set O 2Vtg 1930's Art Deco Plaster/chalkware Painted Lady Head Face Mask Wall Plaque Early Rat Face Mickey Mouse Disney Chalk-ware Figure C1930sFamous Dubois Pa Beer Chalk-ware Plaster 16 " Beer Stein Statue W.j. Smith Co. Vtg Rare Marked Bossons England 1968 Chalkware Wall Hanging Head Vintage "bossons" Made In England Chalkware Head Plaque "fly Fisherman"Vintage Bossons Legend Chalkware Head Cavalier Muskateer Mid-century Modern Chalk-ware & Teak Wood Lamp - Eames Era Beehive StyleRare Vintage 1923 Delphic Seeress Chalk Ware Motion/incense Lamp UnusualVintage Esther Hunt Chalk Bust - JonquilLarge Vintage Mid-century Crucifix Dramatic Chalkware Jesus Figure On Wood CrossVintage ** King Kong Chalkware Circus Carnival Prize ** 13 Inches TallVtg Austin Prod. Greco Roman Warrior Plaster Chalkware Figural Sculpture StatueAntique College Fraternity Ceremonial Candle Stick Skull Chalkware Match HolderVintage(lot Of 2) Parrot's & Flamingo"s Chalk-ware 11" Plaque Birds IrredescentChef - Bossons, Chalkware - Vintage 1969Rare Vintage Blackamoor Elephant Fighting Tigers Large Ceramic Chalkware StatueVintage Plaster MermaidsVintage Signed Bossons England Henry Viii Chalkware Wall Head Original Tag 1985Vintage Dr. Kool Cigarette Adv. Figurine/old Chalkware Figure Nice ShapeVintage 3 Large 1 Small Fish Chalk-ware Miller Studio Bathroom Wall Hanger 1972 Vintage Bossons 1966 "welsh Lady" Head Wall Figurine Made In England2 Vintage Plaster Fish PlaquesVtg Chalkware Statue Figurine St Anthony Padua Baby Jesus Christ Child 43"tallVintage 1970's Esco Harpo Marx Chalk StatuesVery Unique, Antique French, "jesus Infant Of Prague Chalkware Statue"Vintage "bossons" Made In England Chalkware Head Plaque "fisherman" Vintage Lot Chalkware Wall Display Fish Fishes And BubblesCorner Cat Sculpture Wall Art Young Concepts 1992Vintage Bossons Legend Chalkware Head Matador BullfighterVintage Chalkware Nude Mermaid Figure Shell Soap Dish Colorful Laying Down Vintage Red Pixie Elf Iridescent 10 1/2" Tall Ceramic ChalkwareVintage Bossons 1966 "buccaneer" Head Wall Figurine Made In EnglandVintage Miller Studio 1973 Sunflower Set Of 2 Wall Plaques ChalkwareVintage 1972 Miller Studio Chalkware Beau & Belle Blue Birds Kitchen Wall Art ~~rare~~ Mrs. Jumbo Elephant Chalkware String Holder **wdp**Vintage 70's John Wayne Chalkware Figure - Esco**large** Bonzo The Dog Head Chalkware String Holder Vaillancourt Folk Art---santa With Candy Cane1984 Dr. Watson & Sherlock Holmes Bossons Chalkware Heads EnglandA+rare Viintage Signed Bossons England Infantry Officer 1986 Chalkware Wall HeadBossons Of England Chalkware Head Called Miner. 1983. RareA+++rare Vintage Signed Bossons England Drummer Boy 1986 Chalkware HeadVtg Chalkware 1969 Miller Studio 5 Pc Set Pink Blue Fish Trio & Bubbles Bathroom