Monday, July 21, 2008
A gravy boat produced by Pickard China of Antioch was recently donated to the museum's permanent collections.
This particular food service item was made for the United States Quarter Master Corp (U.S.Q.M.C.) for the U.S. Navy in March 1942. The gravy boat contract kept the company afloat (so to speak), and also kept a lot of locals employed during the rough economic times of World War II.
The company's history relates that: "Austin Pickard successfully bid on a Navy contract for gravy boats. These heavy chunks of institutional ware were a far cry from the delicate, sculptured procelain with which the company had become identified... it was the fuel oil allotment [from the government] that fired the kilns and kept the company alive."
The company was established in Edgerton, Wisconsin in 1893 by Wilder Austin Pickard. In 1897, the company moved to Chicago where it was decorating company, specializing in hand painted art pieces, dessert and tea sets. In 1937, production moved to Antioch. Since 1977, Pickard has manufactured the official china service for U.S. embassies around the world. The U.S. Department of State selected the company for this honor, and also to create the china for Air Force One and Camp David.
Pickard is one of the oldest continuous manufacturers in Lake County, and is still in operation in Antioch.