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American Ceramics, 1875-1925


Mint Museum Randolph

Dalton Gallery 


The decades surrounding 1900 were an exciting time in American ceramics as craftsmen and designers competed for their own share of the luxury goods market as well as for favorable critical reviews at international expositions held regularly during this time period.  American manufactories, determined to make products that rivaled those of their more established European and Asian counterparts, exhibited tremendous artistic creativity and introduced many technological innovations.  Many companies hired skilled artisans and craftsmen to improve the quality of their wares and create prototypically American works.  This exhibition showcases over 35 American ceramics from The Mint Museum's permanent collection, highlighting the remarkable work of American craftsmen and designers at the turn of the 20th century. 


Featured Groups and Manufactories


Ceramic Art Company

  • The Ceramic Art Company, founded in 1889 in Trenton, NJ by Walter Scott Lenox and Jonathan Coxon, was an incarnation of the present-day Lenox, Inc. An early producer of American Belleek porcelain, the company grew from an 18-person art studio producing one-of-a-kind wares to a larger manufacturer of full service dinnerware, prompting the name change to Lenox Incorporated in 1906. 
  • Detailed history of the company from Lenox
  • Examples and an overview of the Ceramic Art Company's evolution from Stockton College of New Jersey's Educational Technology Training Center 


Chelsea Keramic Art Works

  • Chelsea Keramic Art Works was founded by Hugh C. Robertson and his father in 1872. Known for their Grecian terra cotta and Pompeian bronzes, the company contributed greatly to the Art Pottery Movement by developing the Chelsea faience, underglazed opaque earthenware that resulted in the development of other American faience. After years of experimenting, Robertson discovered a recipe for the secret Chinese glaze, Sang-de-Boeuf, and produced 300 pieces of what he dubbed Sang de Chelsea in 1888. However, his experiments exhausted the finances of Chelsea Keramic Art Works, causing the studio to close in 1889.
  • Images of works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Informative article on American Ceramics, 1876 - 1956 by Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen and Adrienne Spinozzi from Antiques & Fine Art Magazine


Jervis Pottery

  • Jervis Pottery was a short-lived studio producing pottery from 1908 to 1912. Founded by William Jervis, the principal craftsman, the company also received help from Frederick Rhead who contributed a sgraffito style that he had learned while at Roseville. 
  • Brief background on the history of Jervis from Just Art Pottery



Newcomb Pottery

  • Newcomb Pottery was part of the program at Newcomb College, founded in 1894, now absorbed by Tulane University in New Orleans. Newcomb potters and designers were awarded 8 medals at international exhibitions by 1916. Most glazes used were glossy with blue and green hues, although there were a few matte glazes. The style is typified by nature motifs with cross-sections of plants and flowers, silhouettes of rabbits, and ornate symmetry. 
  • Poesch, Jessie J. Newcomb pottery: an enterprise for Southern women, 1895 - 1940. Exton, PA: Schiffer Pub., 1984.
  • History with examples from Just Art Pottery
  • Detailed historical and artist information from Tulane University 
  • In-depth article on the pottery education and markings of Newcomb from the Arts & Crafts Society 



Ott and Brewer

  • Ott and Brewer, originally known as the Etruria Pottery Company and then as Bloor, Ott and Brewer, was founded in 1863 by William Bloor who remained the principal artistic director of the firm until 1871. After his departure, John Hart Brewer took over, employing Isaac Broome as a designer. Broome transformed the company from a maker of utilitarian pieces to one of the finest American ceramic art firms, creating the famous baseball vase as well as numerous Parian wares. Ott and Brewer is known for introducing America to the Belleek style, for which the company brought workers from Ireland, and developing the American Belleek.
  • History of Trenton pottery making with information on Ott & Brewer from The Trenton City Museum
  • Information on the markings and styles of Ott & Brewer from the Trenton Historical Society 
  • Brief overview and several example images from Stockton College of New Jersey's Educational Technology Training Center


Rookwood Pottery 

  • Rookwood was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols Storer after she was excluded from the Cincinnati Pottery Club. She was in fact extended an invitation to join, but never received it. Storer saw it as a personal insult from M. Louise McLaughlin, and their rivalry was born. Located in Cincinnati and named for Storer's family home, Rookwood is characterized by a wide range of subjects: flowers, insects, Native American portraits, landscapes, and Japanese themes. There were a variety of glazes used including Standard, Vellum, Iris and Matte.
  • Peck, Herbert. The Book of Rookwood Pottery. New York: Bonanza, 1968. NK4340.R7 P4 1968b
  • Article from Just Art Pottery on Rookwood's origins and style.
  • In-depth piece chronicling the rivalry between Storer and McLaughlin and their influence in Cincinatti from Discovering the Story on the Cincinnati Art Museum's website


Roseville Pottery 

  • Roseville Pottery was a successful producer of flower pots, cookie jars and other practical items, later branching into art wares during the 19th and 20th centuries. Founded in Roseville, Ohio in 1890 by J.F. Weaver, the company was incorporated two years later with George Young and quickly expanded, purchasing both Midland Pottery and Clark Stoneware company before the turn of the century. Roseville Pottery moved the headquarters to Zanesville, Ohio, and created its first art line, Rozane (named for both "Roseville" and "Zanesville"). Closing in 1953, the company's facilities were then bought by the Mosaic Tile Company. 
  • Huxford, Sharon. The collectors encyclopedia of Roseville pottery. Paducah, KY: Collectors Books, 1976. 
  • Purviance, Louise. Roseville art pottery in color. Des Moines, IA: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1970. 
  • Information on Roseville's origins from Just Art Pottery
  • Thorough historical background, pattern examples and dates from Roseville-Pottery.net and RosevillePoterry.info 
  • Historical article from Collector's Weekly 


Teco (Gates Potteries)

  • William Day Gates founded the American Terra Cotta and Ceramics Company in Terra Cotta, IL in 1881. Later becoming the country's first manufacturer of architectural terra cotta pieces, the company originated as a producer of fireproof building materials. Gates decided to experiment with clays and glazes on decorative art pieces, evolving the company into Teco Pottery at the turn of the century. Known for its Prarie School style, like that of Frank Lloyd Wright, the company focused on line, shape and color rather than elaborate decoration. Struggling to remain open during the Great Depression, Teco closed its doors in 1941.
  • Darling, Sharon S. Teco: art pottery of the Prairie School. Erie, PA: Erie Art Museum, 1989. 
  • Article with history and stylistic information from Just Art Pottery
  • Information on the origins and popular styles of Teco from the Art Pottery Blog
  • Examples and brief overview from Old & Antique Pottery 


Union Porcelain Works

  • Relatively little information can be found on Union Porcelain Works, a porcelain company best known for its oyster plates and Centennial George Washington profile designs. From 1862 until 1922, Union Porcelain Works produced some of the earliest high-quality porcelain pieces in America and offered them at a price point that middle-class Americans could afford. Thomas C. Smith headed the company, located in Greenpoint, NY, now part of Brooklyn. Originally hired to create objects for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Karl C. Mueller designed some of Union Porcelain Works' most recognizable pieces during his dynamic tenure. 
  • Several works with examples, images, and descriptions from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum
  • Information on Union Porcelain Works' involvement in the Centennial Exhibition as pertaining to one piece from Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 


Weller Pottery

  • Weller Pottery Company is named for its founder Samuel Weller. Weller usually took cues from Rookwood pottery in glazes and techniques, partially due to its close proximity to Cincinnati in Zanesville, Ohio and Laura Fry's influence. For example, its Louwelsa line was developed by Fry as a variant of Rookwood's Standard. Weller's only unique glaze to the American market was Sicardo developed by Jaques Sicard. It is characterized by rainbows of color and iridescence. Weller Pottery usually has nature motifs and forms which are all similar to Newcomb as well as Rookwood Pottery.

  • Carrigan, Linda. Weller pottery: the rare, the unusual, the seldom seen. Sarasota, FL: Marlin Media Pub., 2003. 

  • McDonald, Ann Gilbert. All about Weller: a history and collector's guide to Weller Pottery, Zanesville, Ohio. Marietta, OH: Antique Publications, c1989, c2006.

  • Article from Just Art Pottery with examples and additional information


Willets Manufacturing Company

  • The Willets Brothers founded the company as a successor to Young Pottery, focusing on white ware porcelain. To compete with other American manufacturers who were creating American Belleek pieces, Willets Manufacturing Company hired key players from Ott and Brewer, including Walter Scott Lenox who later founded the Ceramic Art Company, and started production on an extensive array of Belleek pieces in 1887 which continued until the company's demise in 1909.
  • History of Trenton pottery making with a section on Willets from The Trenton City Museum 
  • Examples with information from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Images of Willets' American Belleek pieces from Stockton College



Selected Print Resources on American Ceramics in The Mint Museum Library




Created by Nicole Jacobson, Volunteer for The Mint Museum Library