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Of Hounds and Men: Rockingham Pottery from the Lewis Collection

Of Hounds and Men:

Rockingham Pottery from the Lewis Collection

September 2009 - 12 February 2012

Mint Museum Randolph

American Decorative Arts Gallery



Pair of Poodles 1849-1858

Attributed to United States Pottery Company, Bennington, VT

earthenware with flint enamel glaze

Gift of Emma and Jay Lewis 2009.15.64.1-2


In 2009, Jay and Emma Lewis of Queens, New York presented The Mint Museum with their extensive collection of Rockingham pottery. "Rockingham" refers to the rich brown glaze that identifies these wares. Extremely popular, first in late eighteenth century Great Britain and then in the United States, Rockingham pottery dominated the American ceramics industry by 1845 and remained popular for the rest of the century. The Lewis Collection selections on display comprise a wide range of items and potteries with the signature Rockingham glaze as well as other offerings from the same potteries produced in conjunction with their Rockingham pieces. Functional and decorative pieces alike are represented in this delightful exhibition that reflects the taste and times of the American nineteenth century.


The Pieces

  • Rockingham pottery featured elaborate, relief-molded designs including hunt scenes and historical figures. Toby jugs and animal sculptures also prevaled. A few selected objects from the exhibition are pictured below.

    • Toby jugs were vessels inspired by the character Sir Toby Belch from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night whose boisterous temperment and fondness for drink made him an amusing and popular subject. An example in the exhibition from the American Pottery Company (circa 1840-1845) is pictured in the center of the image below.

    • Appealing to the 19th century consumer, potters incorporated symbols of America and even political slogans. The Coxon and Company pitcher (circa 1863) below on the left features the slogan "Protection to American Industry," used by Abraham Lincoln during his 1860 Presidential campaign.


    • Other people, real and fictitious, became decorative motifs including Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell, Tam O'Shanter from Robert Burns' poem, and George Washington 

  • Rockingham Ware in American Culture by Jane Perkins Claney is an excellent reference on Rockingham pottery. Find it at The Mint Museum Library.

  • During the winter of 2005/2006, The Mint Museum presented the exhibition "Fancy Rockingham" Pottery: the Modeller and Ceramics in Nineteenth Century America. The catalog from the exhibition is available in The Mint Museum Library. Emma and Jay Lewis contributed to this endeavor as well; Emma provided some of the catalog text and Jay, most of the photography!


The Potteries


"Boar and Stag Hunt" Pitcher circa 1904

Attributed to Vance Faience Company, Wheeling, WVa

Gift of Emma and Jay Lewis 2009.15.9


Popularity and Commerce 



Created by Joyce Weaver, Librarian for The Mint Museum