|Delft - Imported From Holland or England|
Growing up in a military family and surrounded by housewares from all over the world, I was intrigued with our collection of Asian and European china and pottery. My favorite place in a department store was the china department, where I’d wander the isles studying and admiring the hundreds of different patterns, some new and some historic.
Fascinated by the colonial period, I discovered some interesting information about the pottery our American ancestors were using for practical as well as decorative purposes.
As I began studying the origins of pottery and ceramics in
America, I discovered
there is some evidence that various Native Americans made and used pottery before
Europeans inhabited what is now the United
States. Not surprisingly, more than one
state takes credit for being the location where the first American pottery was
made. Whether it is Georgia, Virginia,
or New England, one common thread was that colonists began
making pottery around 1730. Not to minimize the potters of different locales, here’s
what I learned of Virginia’s “Poor
|The "Poor Potter" of Yorktown Factory|
One normally associates
last major battle of the Revolutionary War, or the 1862 Peninsula Campaign
during the American Civil War. However, it also claims to be the site of
Virginia America’s first
pottery factory built in the early eighteenth century. Making pottery was no
easy feat as colonials were prohibited from manufacturing domestic products in
order to protect British commercial interests. Colonials were restricted to
providing only the raw materials to be shipped to and manufactured in England.
The completed wares would then be sold back to the colonists, with a surcharge
for transportation back and forth going to the East India Company. How William
Rogers had the approval of Virginia’s
royal governor to make pottery is unknown. But, from 1732 to 1745, Lt. Governor
Sir William Gooch, in official reports to the Lord’s of the Board of Trade
regarding Yorktown potter William Rogers, the implication was made that the
“poor potter” was no threat to British trade.
|Inside the Yorktown Factory|
Rogers, a businessman and not a potter, was the owner of the expanding operation which was producing large amounts of earthenware and stoneware to supply the needs of the colonists. Archaeological remains revealed that the large enterprise included two pottery kilns and a large work area which would have been manned by a large staff that made two dozen different kinds of earthenware and stoneware products. The quality of Roger’s pottery was thought to be equal to that of British potters. Some of his salt-glazed stoneware unearthed ranged from chamber pots, kitchen and tableware, to storage jars.
|Redware with Designs|
Here are some pictures of what was commonly found in the colonies.
|Blue & Grey Salt Glaze|