Part three of Munising Matters: Munising Woodenware

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MUNISING, MI — There’s a product people all over the country search for to add to their collections. It was made right here in the Upper Peninsula.

Munising Woodenware was made in Munising in the early 1900’s. The word Munising was burned onto the bottoms of bowls and other pieces.

But, the company made a lot more than just items for the kitchen.

Duane Hargis with the Alger County Historical Society says, “They supplied the country with
clothes pins. “

Munising Woodenware also made stakes or pegs for tents during World War II. When people would order Munising Woodenware it would come in a variety of packages depending on the size. One box we found says ‘gifts by Munising.’  Another reads ‘Munising Fragile.’

Munising Woodenware has become a collectible. One of the more valuable and sought after items are the hand painted bowls.

Hargis says, “You can go on Ebay and find Munising bowls and Munising products that are still for sale.”

If there was ever a chip in the wood or a mistake the item would be put into a pile for people in the community to take for kindling or other uses.

Hargis adds, “Some of the children would take the larger bowls and use it as a sled.” Munising Woodenware stopped production around the 1950’s.

Hargis says, “Plastics came into the economy and we just could not compete economically with plastic kitchen utensils. So, that’s when they folded.”

But, the story doesn’t end there. The owner of the Munising Wood Products Company collected and sold Munising Woodenware for years.

She noticed some knock-offs. So, she gained access to the copyright to preserve the integrity of Munising Woodenware.

Now, she makes about 20 to 30 pieces a year. They’re complete with the word Munising stamped on the bottom.

Rondi Olson says, “I actually now buy the bowls whole sale from the Holland Bowl Mill in Holland, Michigan. And, I distribute them among a number of artists here in Munising.”

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