By EDWIN ATLEE BARBER.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN INDUSTRIES SINCE COLUMBUS. X.
FOREIGN writers would have the world believe that the United States can boast of no ceramic history. Even our own chroniclers have, singularly enough, neglected a branch of our industrial progress which is not altogether insignificant nor devoid of interest. On the contrary, it can be shown that the fictile art is almost as ancient in this country as in Great Britain, and has been developed in almost parallel lines.
The first European settlers found the American natives proficient in the manufacture of earthen vessels, and we would not be justified in supposing, even in the absence of documentary evidence, that our ancestors were more ignorant of the useful arts than the Atlantic Coast Indians, who, less cultured than the prehistoric mound builders and the Pueblo races of the West, were in possession of rude, but often ornamental, utensils made of baked clay and sand.
Primitive potteries for the production of earthenware on a small scale were operated in the provinces at an early period, but as only the coarser grades of ware were needed by the simple inhabitants of a new country, no extended accounts of them appear to have been written by the older historians. As early as the year 1649, however, there were a number of small potteries in Virginia which carried on a thriving business in the communities in which they existed; and the first Dutch settlers in New York brought with them a practical knowledge of potting, and are said to have made a ware equal in quality to that produced in the ancient town of Delft. Prof. Isaac Broome, of the Beaver