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Wheelock China

Wheelock China

Charles, George, and Arthur Wheelock of Janesville, Wisconsin formed a cooperative enterprise to sell fine china in 1877-78. About 1894 they came up with a new idea and they gave birth to the idea of souvenir china.


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Wheelock China.
Wheelock China.
In 1877, Charles Wheelock bought store that was selling fine china in South Bend, Indiana. Five years later, he hired his brother George as a clerk in the store. In 1883 George opened his own store, also located in South Bend. In 1887, Charles relocated to Peoria, Illinois, while George operated both stores in South Bend. About 1888, a third brother, Arthur, opened a branch of the Wheelock stores in Rockford, Illinois. Further expansion would include branches in Des Moines, Iowa and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Their brother Frank, remained with his father, Wadsworth Grant Wheelock who ran a general store and a wholesale business in Janesville, Wisconsin. 
 
2
Wheekock China Hallmark.
Wheekock China Hallmark.
The Wheelock hallmark can vary greatly. Through the years they developed manufacturing contacts in England, Germany, Austria and Japan. They became one of the largest wholesalers and retailers of fine china in the United States.

Note: It was the McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 that required all imported items be marked with the country of origin. It may be possible that items made before this date do not have a country printed on them. 
 
3
The Souvenir Idea.
The Souvenir Idea.
Around 1894, the Brothers hired traveling salesmen specifically to market souvenir china wholesale to stores. Initially this happened in Illinois and nearby states but, eventually it would spread coast to coast. The salesmen carried pattern books that listed hundreds of varieties of pieces that were available.

Once the merchant selected a piece a scenic photo was sent to the European potteries which reproduced them as black decals. Workers applied the decal to the porcelain before the initial firing. The picture was then hand colored. Depending on the piece there may have been other hand painted decorations as well as lettering identifying the scene. Once the piece was fired the picture became a permanent decoration.

Latter when the technology had advanced far enough the decals were made in color eliminating the need for hand coloring. 
 
4
The Souvenir Hallmark.
The Souvenir Hallmark.
Part of the attraction for the merchant was the fact that the hallmark would state that the piece was made specifically for his store. 
 
5
Wheelock China Plate.
Wheelock China Plate.
Plates are the most common with smooth edge rimless plates being more common than this ornate plate. Plate sizes vary from 3 1/2 to 12 inches. The mini plate with a size of 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches was very popular. Beyond plates there are seemingly endless varieties; trinket boxes, toothpick holders, cups, creamers, beer steins, candy dishes and more. 
 
6
Wheelock Shoe.
Wheelock Shoe.
Many of the pieces were colored with Cobalt blue. This seems to be more common on shapes like cups and creamers than it is on plates. 
 
7
Wheelock Prussia.
Wheelock Prussia.
The instability of Europe during World War I dealt a blow to the Wheelock China Company and much like the Kingdom of Prussia it never recovered. 
 
8
Wheelock Tea Set.
Wheelock Tea Set.
Pricing is tough and often comes down to what do you want to pay. It's difficult to say how many of any given piece may still exist. Plates can often be found for a little as $20 USD. More elaborate shapes like beer steins have been known to sell for well over $100. The place pictured on the china may be something that is sought by collectors that don't normally collect china so it will add to the price.

Happy collecting! 
 
9
Former Resident In Legal Trouble.
Former Resident In Legal Trouble.
The Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette, Tuesday, December 9, 1902 page 2, 
 


Linked to Arthur Washburn Wheelock (7574), Charles E Wheelock (7575), George Henry Wheelock (5251)