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 Candy Store Indian Chief Watta Pop Lollipop Display American Chalkware1995 Vaillancourt Folk Art Chalkware Belsnickle Santa Drilled Feather Tree #9534Rare Antique Large Chalkware Christmas Creche Figure Jesus With Glass Eyes1999 Vaillancourt Folk Art Chalkware Mustard Coat Father Christmas #9941Vintage Blatz Beer Schenley Ind. Tilimac Barrel Guy Chalkware Statue Vintage 1940 Jacquin's Cordials Chalkware 3-d Advertising Bar Display N454 SsMidcentury Alexander Backer Bronzed Chalkware Sculpture Abraham Lincoln Bust YqzVintage Japan Wall Chalkware Plaster Mythical Mermaid #1210 Vaillancourt Retired 9th Starlight Folk Art Chalkware Christmas Santa #9830Vintage Bossons Imagical Chalkware Congleton England Cox Swain 1985Vintage Mid-century Modern 1954 Miller Studio Chalkware Kissing Fish Wall DecorSt. Louis Cardinals Figural Baseball Chalkware Ashtray 1930 - 1940 ' S Rare Vintage Mae West Chalkware Figure Original Carnival Prize Doll Flirty GlitterBetter Buy Blitz Vintage Beer Advertising Bar Sign Chalkware StatueVintage 1974 Miller Studio Chalkware Fish & Bubbles Purple Blue Plaque ~ Lot # 1Bosson Head The Squire 1994Vintage 1974 Miller Studio Chalkware Fish & Bubbles Purple Blue Plaque ~ Lot # 3Vintage 1970 Chalkware Bathroom Fish & Bubbles Retro Home Decor1986 Bossons Drummer Boy Civil War Union Head Imagical ChalkwareVintage Bosson Heads Lot2000 Vaillancourt Folk Art Chalkware Easter Bunny Giant Egg Esco Statue Bob Hope Rare TuxedoBosson Henry ViiiSaint Joseph Antique Vintage Statue Chalkware Shabby A/s 17 1/2"Vintage Bossons England Imagical Chalkware Bust 1988 Bargee GentlemanSammy Davis Jr. Vtg Theatrical Creations Chalkware / Plaster Statue 1972Vtg Bossons Russian Man Chalkware Head Made In England ~ Excellent Condition N/rVintage Angel Fish Chalkware W/bubble By Miller Studio Pfeiffer's Beer Johnny Fifer Vintage Chalkware Advertising Display Figure Rare Antique St. Mary Joseph Rossello Chalkware Carmelite Nuns Convent StatueVintage 1986 Bosson Head Infantry Officer Collectible Imagical Chalkware FiguresVintage Rare 1930's Plaster Chalkware String Holder Smoking Cigar Clown Antique Chalk Ware Religious Saint Nun Statue Figurine Old Adorable Sweet Flapper Girl Statue Chalkware Carnival Prize 2 Vintage Chalkware Fish Wall Plaques 1969 Miller Studio Retro Pastel Green PinkVintage Majorette Chalkware Figure Original Carnival Prize Doll Flirty Glitter Bossons Congleton England Chalkware Yorkshire Dog Head W/ Blue RibbonVintage 1964-65 N.y. Worlds Fair Vatican Pieta Pavilion Jesus Statue ChalkwareLarge Antique Chalk Chalkware Statue Figurine Of Sheep On Book From ChurchVintage Mid Century Chalkware Figure Of Mermaid A Bit Risque Chalk Wall Decor1950's Vintage Dog Chalkware Figurine Carnival Amusement Park Prize Rare 1942 " General Douglas Macarthur " Bust - Statue - Boston Estate Find**vintage 1969** Bossons Congleton England Chef HeadVintage Bossons Congleton England Boatman Chalkware Head Figure Chalkware Cowgirl FigurineVintage Chalkware Statue Of Our Mary Perpetual HelpVintage Tinsel Christmas Tree Lights Up! Glass "plugs" & Topper Chalkware BaseVintage Bradley Chalkware Fish & Bubbles Blue Plaque With MirrorVintage Native American Indian Television Lamp - Cast Iron And Chalkware - 1933Vintage Chalkware Bust Statue Marked Cendrillon Sculpture FranceBossons Congleton Of England Beefeater Chalkware HeadVintage Mid Century Chalkware Large Fish With Bubbles Bathroom Wall HangingVintage 1949 Arlis Inc Chalkware Plaques Pink Parrots Pair Of 2 Bright & ShinyMiller Studio Chalkware Kissing Fish Wall Plaques1940's Or 1950's Childs Face Wall HangerVintage Like Bosson Chalkware Heads Take Your Choice Of 20 Vintage Chalkware Dog With Ball With GlitterEsco Statue 1971 Originals **laurel And Hardy**, Excellent ConditionRare Antique Chalk Ware Carnival Kewpie With Mohair Wig 10" HighEsco Statue ***curly Howard** Three Stooges. Great Condition 1980