The master potters
Guild of St Gertrudis
Since the middle of the 16th century, the Raeren potters were joint in a guild. The first statutes of the guild were enacted on June 17th,1619, by the archduchess Isabella from Spain and the archduke Albert from Austria. They were governors of Holland from 1598 till 1621. In this decree, they confirmed the 13 "pointen enden articulen" (points and articles) according to which the guild had already been working for over 50 years. The decree was ratified on January 9th, 1760, by Empress Mary Therese. She granted a new guild-order which consisted of 48 points.It was a "closed" guild to which no strangers were admitted. It was run by seven guildmasters who were all re-elected every two years on March 17th. The 17th of March is the name day of St Gertrudis who is patron saint of the Raeren potters.
In Raeren, there were several big potter families which over centuries were faithful to their craft and played an important role in its development. Their names are still often found in the Raeren of today. The first known potters of the 15th century called themselves according to their profession: Peter Kruichenbecker the Younger (1461).
Later, family names were formed which mostly derived from first names, places or characteristics.The two most important families are the Emens and Emonts who worked mostly in the part of Raeren around the castle and the Mennicken who were mostly situated in Neudorf. Other important families were theKalf and Kannebecker families, the Baldem and Bager as well as the Pesch and the Pitz or Peitz families. Their names can be found not only in old documents but also in inscriptions on Raeren stoneware.
The big masters
The Raeren pottery artistically flourished during the 16th century. In this time there were some extraordinary potters who set some important trends in the stylistic development. One of the most popular among them is surely Ian Emens Mennicken whose ceremonial jugs can be found in all important museum collections.
His contemporary and rival was Emont Emonts op den Born whose tombstone cross is right opposite the museum. Other known names from this period are Wilm Kalf, Winand Emonts, Merten Mennicken, Everhart Kalf and Engel Kran who mostly produced Susan-jugs. At the end of the 16th century, Jan Baldems and Baldem Mennicken gave the Raeren pottery new impulses and led it from the period of the Renaissance to the Baroque.