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The History of American Pottery

Aug 17, 2007
Many records of the early American pottery do not many evidence to prove their existence, but some of the written names and some pieces of the potteries shows that the American potters were very skilled and artistic. Some newspapers even showed that American used to imports in quantity from England and from the Far East, which handicapped the local potters.

SOME of the earliest inhabitants of both North and South America were skilled and artistic potters, and examples of their work are to be found in museums; occasionally, they can be bought. In more modern times, in the days of John Smith and Pocahontas, there were still potters at work in America, and it would not have taken the European settlers long to find a suitable clay from which to make domestic pieces. In 1641 there is a record of James Pride, a potter at Salem, Massachusetts, and it is believed that others were operating in Jamestown, Virginia. Of these first craftsmen, and many that followed in their wake, there is a little to show except a written record of some of their names. They made useful everyday wares that served their purpose, were broken and discarded, and there was no particular reason to treasure them.

The picture changed little in the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century. The Crolius and Remney families were established at Potters' Hill, New York City; while at Burlington, New Jersey, Daniel Coxe made what he described as 'White Chiney Ware'. Newspapers of the period show that pottery and porcelain were imported in quantity from England and from the Far East, and the local potters were left to make little other than 'butter, water, pickle, oyster and chamber pots; milk pans of several sizes; jugs, mugs, bowls, porringers, cups, etc.

Very little has survived that can be dated positively as having been made before 1800, and in America. A bowl in the Brooklyn museum, of Pennsylvania red earthenware incised with the date 1775 is outstanding; in the same museum is a white pottery sauceboat, copied probably from a Liverpool imported example, decorated with Chinese landscapes in blue, made in Philadelphia. Examples of red clay domestic ware include baking dishes, which are indistinguishable from their English originals; likewise, Pennsylvania dishes with sgraffito decoration closely similar to German country-made ones.

Salt-glazed stoneware was made for suitable articles, and a tall round butter churn by Clarkson Crolius Senior, made about 1800, belongs to the New York Historical Society. At about the same date a pottery was set up to make cream ware to compete with imported Wedgwood, gave it the name of Tivoli Ware and advertised for orders and apprentices.

Authentic pieces of the early wares are extremely scarce; as it was purely utilitarian in purpose it was seldom, if ever, marked. The demand for anything sophisticated was met from abroad, until in the early nineteenth century, when conditions grew more settled in the land, and manufactories were started to supply the home market on a large scale.

A man named Andrew Duche, born in Philadelphia in 1710, made porcelain in about 1740. A small bowl with Oriental-style under glaze blue decoration was discovered in 1946 and is assumed to be one of his experimental pieces. It is in a private collection in the United States. Thirty years later, two partners named Gouse Bonnin and George Anthony Morris started a factory in Philadelphia, but it is doubtful whether they made much true porcelain. The first successful commercial making of the ware was again in Philadelphia and owed its inception to a Quaker, William Ellis Tucker, who began to experiment in 1826. Tucker's porcelain was of good quality and included tea sets, vases and other pieces, many of which won awards at exhibitions in New York and elsewhere. The factory closed in 1838.

The imports from England and other Far East Asian countries left the local potters only to make things like 'butter, water, pickle, oyster and chamber pots; milk pans of several sizes; jugs, mugs, bowls, porringers, cups, etc. But some of the potteries in different museums of American states prove that they also made potteries in their own styles and designs.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kids-games-n-crafts.com/ , http://www.guideforcrafts.info/ , http://www.bathroomaccessoriesmadeeasy.info/
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