Special Exhibit

Special Exhibit

Our Current Exhibit


Cookie Jars Are Everywhere 

Susan Wolleson-Freund’s family history in Calistoga dates back to the days of Reason P. Tucker in the 1840’s. Her collection of cookie jars goes back a mere 30+ years. She made her first purchase of a pair of cookie jars, Little Dutch Boy & Little Dutch Girl, in the late 1980’s. This is where her journey would begin. Her collection now stands at over 300 pieces. Some jars she purchased herself, others have been gifts from family and friends.

Recently visiting Susan to photograph her collection, we thought it would be an easy task. Not! Walking into Susan’s home we first saw a cabinet filled with cookie jars, then another cabinet, then a shelf, then over the fireplace, then a hutch, and another hutch-- every jar more beautiful than the one before. The best part was talking to Susan about her collection. She knows every single cookie jar, on what shelf or cabinet it resides, and the story behind each one. It was an amazing experience.

Artist Andy Warhol was a collector as well, and he and Susan have more in common than you might think. Both acquired their jars at flea markets, yard sales, small antique shops, or received as gifts. Neither Andy nor Susan chose these jars because of their current or ultimate value; each jar was chosen simply because “I liked it”. Susan has Andy beat on quantity though; he maxed out at 175, about half the number in Susan’s collection. After Andy’s death in 1987, his collection was auctioned off by Sotheby’s and brought in $250,000. Of course Warhol’s provenance likely boosted the auction prices, but you never know.

Cookie jars have their origins in the late 18th century biscuit jars of England. They did not become a household favorite in America until the early days of the Great Depression. Cookie jars were first made simply of glass with screw on lids. Only later did cookie jar manufacturing get creative. Everything imaginable such as animals, fruits & vegetables, and storybook characters, became a cookie jar.

There is not room enough in our display cases for Susan’s 300 cookie jars, but we are hoping to fit 100 or so. Be looking for Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Elvis in a pink Cadillac, Sylvester & Tweety Bird, Aunt Jemima, Coca Cola, Babe Ruth, and Lucile Ball. How about The Cow Jumped Over the Moon, a John Deere Tractor, the Space Shuttle, even Hogs on Hogs (yes, pigs riding motorcycles). Susan’s collection is truly mind-boggling.

Please come in see for the first and only time this awe-inspiring collection. Cookie jars will be everywhere!

Patsy Hahn, 
Special Exhibits Chair
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