early new england potters and their wares

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    Lura Woodside Watkins


  • Copyright, 1950, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

    Distributed in Great Britain by

    Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, London

    Printed in the United States of America

  • TO MALCOLM, my sonwhose sympathetic understandinghas been an inspiration


  • Preface

    This book is the result of more than Swan, of Scituate, Massachusetts. In this field

    fifteen years of research. The study has been the historical societies have also been mostcarried on, partly in libraries and town helpful. I am especially grateful to Mr. Fred

    records, partly by conferences with descend- W. Bushby, of the Peabody Historical So-ants of potters and others familiar with their ciety, for the loan of a large collection of

    history, and partly by actual digging on the notes, to Mr. F. W. Hutt, of the Old Colonysites of

    potteries.The excavation method has Historical Society at Taunton, and to Mr.

    proved most successful in showing what our Elmer M. Hunt, of the New HampshireNew England potters were making at an Historical Society,early period now almost unrepresented by For information freely given and for aid

    surviving specimens. in locating sites I am indebted to Mrs. HelenOver all these

    years I have had the willingF. Adams, Mr. Horace Bardwell, Mrs. Har-

    assistance of many persons, whom I here net E. Brown, Mrs. Carrie B. Carpenter,wish to thank

    publicly. Two of them have Mrs. Ada Hunt Chase, Miss Mary Persisbeen of immeasurable help in forwarding the Crafts,

    Mrs. W. J. Craig, Mrs. Elizabeth

    publication of the book: Mr. Curt H. Reis- Davis, Mrs. Kelsey Flower, Miss Helen

    inger and Mr. David McCord. To Mr. Holley, Miss Annie Stilphen, Miss DaisyReisinger I owe a boundless debt of gratitude Waterhouse, and Miss Grace Wheeler. Mr.

    for his very practical aid and to Mr. McCord John Norton Brooks and Mr. George A.

    my devoted thanks for the time he has spent Risley, both descendants of potters, haveand the moral support he has given when the contributed much by the loan of originalend was uncertain. account books and the

    giftof photographs.

    Some friends have cooperated by research Especial thanks are due those patientin records or by the gift of documentary people who have cheerfully allowed us to

    material or notes which they themselves dig up their lawns and yards. For this I am

    have made. Among these are Miss Margaret particularly under obligation to Miss LouiseH. Jewell, of Portland, Maine; Prof. Fred- Hanson and to Mr. and Mrs. Chester T.

    erick H. Norton, of the Massachusetts In- Cutler and their young son, Thomas Allen,

    stitute of Technology; Mr. Arthur W. who recovered at Danvers the earliest slip-Clement, of Brooklyn, New York; Miss Edna decorated shard that can be attributed to anyM. Hoxie, of Berkley, Massachusetts; Mrs. known potter and place in America. The

    H. H. Buxton, of Peabody, Massachusetts; trustees of Ravenswood Park in Gloucester

    Mr. Albert N. Peterson, of Providence, were also most kind in permitting excavation

    Rhode Island; Mr. Austin G. Packard, of on their land.

    Ashfield, Massachusetts; and Mrs. Mabel M. A few devotees have done the hard work


  • PREFACEof digging. First and foremost among them untold hours and energy into the making


    is my husband, Charles Hadley Watkins, fine illustrations for the book, and to Forrestwhose enthusiasm has been almost as great Orr, who has subordinated a great artisticas my own. Others who have put their backs talent to the business of making the lineinto it are our nephew Thomas P. Watkins drawings in Chapter XXIX,and our good friends Charles S. Livingstone .and Richard H. Marchant. My gratitude to Lura Woodsidc


    them all!

    And lastly I would like to thank Russell Winchester, Massachusetts

    B. Harding, my photographer, who has put May 1949


  • ContentsIntroduction

    I Techniques 5

    II Seventeenth-Century Potters 1 3

    III James Kettle s Shard Pile 2 1

    IV The Provincial Potters of Charlestown 24

    V A Potter s Daybook 3

    VI A Woman Introduces Stoneware 34

    VII Redware Potting from Boston to the Cape 39

    VIII Excavations on the Bayley Sites of 1723-1799 48

    IX The Osborns of Danvers and Other Essex County Potters 62

    X The Quaker Potters of Bristol County 74

    XI Stoneware Potting in Eastern Massachusetts 80

    XII Some Potteries of Central and Western Massachusetts 92

    XIII The Whately and Ashfield Group i o i

    XIV Pioneer Craftsmen of New Hampshire 1 10.

    XV The Clarks of Lyndeboro and Concord 120

    XVI North of Concord 130

    XVII Redware Potters of Vermont 1 3 6

  • CONTENTSXVIII Vermont Stoneware Potteries 1 4 1

    XIX Early Maine Potteries 1 55

    XX The Maine Industry After 1 800 1 60

    XXI Early Connecticut Redware and the Goshen Group 1 7 1

    XXII The States Family of Greenwich and Stonington 178

    XXIII Potters of New London County 1 84

    XXIV Hartford and New Haven Potteries 192

    XXV Pots and Dishes of Norwalk 1 9 8

    XXVI Rhode Island 207

    XXVII Bennington and Kindred Developments 2 1 1

    XXVIII The Art Potteries 222

    XXIX Redware Forms274.


    I Documents Relating to the Parkers of Charlestown 245

    II Check List of New England Potters 249III Bibliography







  • Introduction

    New England pottery falls into four cate- in England the arts and refinements of dec-

    gories: first,common red earthenware fash- oration, they had little opportunity to prac-

    ioned from native clay; second, stoneware, tice them here. The need for useful objectsmade of materials brought from outside the was greater than the urge to elaborate them.

    New England states; third, wares of buff or Thus, after two or three generations in thewhite body cast in molds for mass produc- harsh life of the pioneer community, they

    tion, typified by Fenton s Bennington out- lost the ability for conscious artistic ex-

    put; fourth,decorative pottery designed by pression in this medium. There is little play

    trained artists. This book is primarily con- of fancy in the early decorated wares, such

    cerned with the first two classifications as they were, but rather an insistence uponthe work of the traditional potters. For the the geometrical that is akin to contemporarysake of completeness, however, chapters on Indian art.

    the later developments have been added. Simple thoughNew England redware may

    Since redware was the only type of pot- be, it is nevertheless sturdy and vigorousin

    tery generally made here before the Revolu- form and it has a charm that is difficultto

    tion, it presentsan unusual degree of interest define. Lustrous glazes,

    soft colors, and

    to the historian and the artist. Its manufac- shapes of good proportion combine to make

    ture (in the old sense of handcraft) has been a virile, handsome ware. Earthy by its very

    so far forgotten that in thenext generation nature,

    with its suggestion of soil, leaves,

    such knowledge as I have here assembled and trees,it captures

    the essence of the early

    would have been lost forever. And yet, it is potter s environment. That its beauty is

    one of the very few folk arts that have been largely accidentalmakes it no less lovable:

    practiced by Anglo-Saxons on this side ofthe its variations are like the changes of Nature

    Atlantic. herself, never ending, ever yielding fresh en-

    The growth of this craft in New England joyment. It is truly an expression of simplewas subjected to far different influences than people

    men almost without conscious

    was that of the Pennsylvania-German pot- thought ofart. Like them their pottery is

    ters. When the Germans came to Pennsyl- strong, direct, stripped of pretense and

    vania, the country had been occupiedfor foolish ornamentation. It was created to fill

    more than one hundred years. They brought a demand, and, incidentally,to please


    with them a fully developed traditional art who came to buy.which they were free to express here

    as they Red earthenware is one of the leastdur-

    had in their home land. In New England, able ceramic types. Porous and brittle, easily

    pottersarrived with the first contingents of cracked and chipped,

    it has not survived in

    the pioneersettlers and had to work under quantity sufficient to give more than


    the most adverse conditions. Of necessity, slightest hint of its once widespread usein

    their time was occupied in makingutilitarian New England. Unlike the finer English

    vessels. Although they had doubtless learnedearthenware and porcelain owned by the


    colonists, it was intended for the humbler

    domestic purposes. It was a pottery for the

    kitchen and the dairy and, far more fre

    quently than is supposed, for the table.The

    myth of the colonists having nothing but

    wood and pewter for tableware must be dis

    counted. The wood and pewter have sur

    vived; the redware, except for shards in

    potters dumps, has not. Its cheapnessand

    fragility contributed to its disappearancefrom the household effects that were so

    carefully handed on from one generation to