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Osborne Theomun Olsen
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Birth: Jun. 9, 1883
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Death: Jan. 9, 1971
Cook County
Illinois, USA

Osborne Theomun Olsen (1883-1971) was the owner of Osborne Art Studios in Chicago where he decorated china. Osborne Art Studios existed from 1910 to 1973. (b. June 9, 1883; Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA - d. January 9, 1971; Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA) Social Security Number 327304556.

His name was originally thought to be "Osborne Titaman Olsen" by the family. It was written in the World War I draft registration as "Osborne Theomun Olsen". This was discovered in 2006. He is also known as Asbjorn T. Olsen and Ozzie Olsen.

Osborne was the third child of Anne Marie Jensen (1854-c1895) and Peter Olsen (1844-1892) and his birth name was "Asbjorn Olsen".

He was born on June 9, 1883 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. His birth certificate incorrectly lists him as "Oscar Olson". His parents were listed as "Annie Jenshon Olson", age 29, and "Peter Olson", age 39, of Farsund, Norway.

His siblings include: Jennie Olsen (1881-?) who married a Henning and may have been buried in Mount Olive Cemetery; Perry Maranius Olsen (1885-1971) who died in Oakland, California; and Harriet Olsen (1889-?).

Annus horribilis:
1896 represents an annus horribilis with three family deaths. Osborne's father was assaulted and he was bedridden for almost a year. He died on August 11, 1896 during the 1896 heat wave. Osborne's mother died on August 22, 1896, just 11 days after the death of his father. Osborne's unmarried paternal uncle, who was a sailor, raised the orphaned children, but he was hit by a train on October 26, 1896. This was 2 months and 15 days after the death of Peter Olsen. The children were orphaned again until raised by Katrine Jensen (1857-1912) and Steffen Barca (1855-?). Karine was a maternal aunt.

He married Augusta Schmidt (1883-1974) aka Gussie Schmidt on June 3, 1905 in Chicago.

Together they had the following children: Perry Olsen (1907-1974) who married Lavina Minnie Price (1909-1989); and Evelyn Olsen (1909-2002) who married Wilbur Lamond (1912-1983).

In the 1910 Census he listed himself as "working on his own account" under the name "Asbjorn T. Olsen". In 1914-1917 he appeared in the Chicago City Directory working at 2520 North Milwaukee Avenue and living at 6933 Overhill Avenue. He listed his occupation as "artist". In 1920 he appeared in the US Census living at 6933 Overhill Avenue in Chicago. In the 1922 Chicago City Directory he listed two addresses for his Studio. Osborne appeared on the 1930 US Census living at 6935 Overhill Avenue in Chicago and working at his ceramic studio. He died on January 10, 1971 and his widow, Augusta; and his son, Perry continued the business until 1973.

Osborne Art Studio:
Osborne owned Osborne Art Studio in Chicago where he decorated ceramics and added gold and platinum trim. In 1910 he appeared in the Chicago City Directory living at "3025 George" and he listed his occupation as "decorator".

World War I:
He registered for the draft on September 18, 1918 under the name "Osborne Theomun Olsen". He listed his job as "china painting" at 2520 North Milwaukee Avenue. He had blue eyes and brown hair, and did not serve in World War I.

Osborne died on January 9, 1971 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Funeral notice:
His funeral notice appeared in the Chicago Tribune on January 11, 1971 and read as follows: "Osborne T. Olsen beloved husband of Augusta, nee Smith, fond father of Perry [Lavina] Olsen, Evelyn [Wilbur] Lamond; five grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren. Funeral Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. at the M.J. Suerth Funeral Home, 6754 Northwest Highway. Interment Acacia Park."

Osborne was buried on January 12, 1971 at Acacia Park Cemetery and Mausoleum. He was buried with his wife.

Many of his pieces are extant and archived with family members. A large collection belongs to the descendents of Arthur Bruce Jensen I (1888-1975) aka Jens Arthur Jensen who was the sales manager for Osborne Studios before World War I.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson write the following for the Scripps Howard News Service: "Osborne Art Studios, which was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1910 by Osborne T. Olsen. At that time there were a number of companies decorating white china 'blanks' (e.g. pieces that are undecorated and therefore 'blank') in Chicago. The most famous of these was and is the Pickard China Company, whose work is highly prized by current collectors and can be very expensive. There is no question that Osborne did beautiful work, but he is often accused of being a Pickard copyist, and this tends to hurt the value of many Osborne pieces. It should also be noted that Osborne did not always use a backstamp on his pieces, and since they look so much like Pickard's work, this has caused much confusion among those who are interested in this type of ware."

Osborne also appeared in The Collector's Encyclopedia of Pickard China by Alan B. Reed, which had the following information: "Osborne was the only Chicago china artist of any stature to use his first name for his studio name and signature. He was born in Illinois of Norwegian parents in 1884 as Asbjorn T. Olsen. He Anglicized his first name early in his career, and by age 18 (1902) he was already decorating china professionally. In 1908 he married a girl his own age and they had two children, a boy and a girl. During the first seven or eight years of his career, he probably worked for one or more of the decorator wholesalers such as Pitkin & Brooks. Several antique dealers have insisted that he received his early training at Pickard. While not discounting these claims, diligent searches at antique shows and auctions and among private collections have turned up no example. Certainly, he was not one of Pickard's top artists nor was he ever Pickard's art director as a few dealers have claimed. By the time of the 1910 Census he describes himself as 'working on his own account', that is, he had his own china-decorating business in his home, and by 1914 he had opened a separate studio at 2520 North Milwaukee Avenue. Osborne did not use a backstamp on much of his product, being content to sign his name on the face of the piece, or in the case of all-over gold pieces, to scribe his signature on the bottom, In other cases, he used gummed foil labels that were easily removed after purchase. Therefore although he did employ other artists one cannot distinguish between unstamped pieces signed by an artist while working for Osborne and pieces which that artist may have made on a freelance basis. He does not seem to have encouraged - or perhaps even permitted - other artists to sign their work for him. An Osborne piece signed by anyone other than Osborne has yet to be found. Although he seems to have been devoted primarily to decorated china, he always characterized his studio as an 'art studio' and himself as simply an 'artist.' The studio was not a large one, and inasmuch as Osborne sold art supplies as well as decorated china from a store at the front of the building, he probably employed no more than six or eight china decorators at the studio's height. Nevertheless, he did employ some very good artists."

Memories about Osborne Olsen:
Selma Freudenberg (1921-2009) remembered: "When I was little I visited Chicago with my uncle, Otto Winblad, and we stayed with a family and I thought they were related to us. They gave me a gold salt and pepper shaker that I still have, I may have been 8 or 9 and the year may have been 1929. He worked with gold, putting it on ceramic pieces. One of the people there was Leif Jensen."

Norma Theda Olson (1935- ) said: "There was a person in the family that owned a china shop on the North West Highway in Chicago. He sold fancy plates. I lived at Nagle Avenue after I got married and that was near the North West Highway. My mother and I walked over there one day and the man who was home wasn't very friendly. We introduced ourselves as family then went home. I don't know how he was related or what his name was."

Osborne Theomun Olsen (1883-1971) was the first cousin twice removed of Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ). Two of the Jensens married two of the Olsens from Farsund, Norway.

Researched and written by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) starting on January 24, 2004. Updated on May 1, 2014 with the annus horibilis.

Family links: 
  Peder Matthias Olsen (1849 - 1896)
  Anna Maria Jensen Olsen (1854 - 1896)
  Augusta Schmidt Olsen (1883 - 1974)
  Perry Olsen (1907 - 1974)*
  Evelyn Olsen Lamond (1909 - 2002)*
  Jennie Marie Olsen Henning (1881 - 1966)*
  Osborne Theomun Olsen (1883 - 1971)
  Perry Maranius Olsen (1886 - 1972)*
*Calculated relationship
Acacia Park Cemetery and Mausoleum
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Plot: Lot 2, Block 21, Juniper Section
Created by: Richard Arthur Norton (1...
Record added: Jan 24, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8312014
Osborne Theomun Olsen
Added by: Susan
Osborne Theomun Olsen
Added by: Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )
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what beautiful dishes you made !! what a wonderful talent !! may you rest in peace, i am sure there was a wonderful family reunion.
- beth
 Added: Jul. 16, 2006
In memory...
- BE
 Added: Sep. 20, 2005

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