Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/January 1892/The Development of American Industries Since Columbus: Pottery Industry II
|←Obituary Notes||Popular Science Monthly Volume 40 January 1892 (1892)
The Development of American Industries Since Columbus: Pottery Industry II
By Edwin Atlee Barber
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By EDWIN ATLEE BARBER.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN INDUSTRIES SINCE COLUMBUS. XI.
THE revelations of the Centennial Exhibition set our potters to thinking and stimulated them to greater competition. Never before was such an impetus given to any industry. The best productions of all nations were sent here and exhibited beside our own modest manufactures, and it was only too apparent that America had been left behind in the race. Up to that time there had been a few sporadic instances of attempts at originality, but comparatively little had been accomplished of a really artistic nature. The existence of a true ceramic art in this country may be said to have commenced with the fair of 1876, because greater progress has been made within the fifteen years which have elapsed since that important event than during the two centuries which preceded it. Let us see what rapid strides have been made in this period.
At the United States Pottery in Bennington, Vt., was a young man, Mr. L. W. Clark, son of the superintendent, Mr. Decius W. Clark, who, on the closing of that factory, accompanied his father to Peoria, 111., and remained with the firm of Fenton & Clark for about two years, when he left to enter the army. In 1875 he went to Boston, and, in partnership with Mr. Thomas Gray, assumed control of the New England Pottery. This establishment was founded in 1854 by Mr. Frederick Meagher, who made Rockingham and yellow ware. It was afterward taken by Mr. William H. Horner, from whom the plant was purchased by the present proprietors, who now produce the usual lines of useful services in cream-colored and white granite ware. For the past five years they have been making a decorated product in colored bodies, to which they have given the name "Rieti" ware. This is a semi-porcelain, finished and decorated chiefly after the Doulton, Adderley, and Worcester methods. They also make true hard porcelain of an admirable quality, and their goods are characterized by an artistic style of decoration and excellence of glaze, their mazarine blue and "old ivory" finish being especially praiseworthy. The decorating branches are under the direct supervision of Mr. J. W. Phillips, who originates and engraves many of the best designs used in their printing processes. Most of their shapes are utilitarian rather than ornamental, but they have succeeded in imparting to these a grace of outline and delicacy of coloring which render them objects of great beauty.
|Fig. 18. — Semi-porcelain Vase. New England Pottery Company, 1889.|
Their chocolate-jugs, jardinières, and cuspidors compare very favorably with the imported wares, after which they are to some extent patterned. Of the few purely decorative forms which they have attempted, a semi-porcelain vase, twenty inches in height, made in 1880, is particularly meritorious. This is artistically painted in natural colors on raised paste, the top and base being in solid, dead gold. Mr. Bands, of the Royal Worcester Works, England, was the artist.
The Ott and Brewer Company, of Trenton, N. J., now operates the factory which was built by Messrs. Bloor, Ott & Booth, in 1863. Mr. J. Hart Brewer, president of the company, entered the firm in 1865, and, being an artist himself of considerable ability, soon made his influence felt in the improvement of methods and elevation of standards. Until 1876 the chief products of this factory consisted of white granite and cream-colored ware. At the Centennial Exhibition the company made a display of a series of artistic Parians which had been designed mainly by Mr. Isaac Broome, an American artist of remarkable versatility and great promise. Of these special pieces, probably the most noteworthy are a bust of Cleopatra and a vase with modeled figures of base-ball players.
The first attempts in the manufacture of "Belleek" egg-shell china were made by Mr. Brewer in 1882, in conjunction with Mr. William Bromley, Jr., but these early trials were not entirely satisfactory. Encouraged by partial success, however, Mr. Brewer induced Bromley to send for his father, William Bromley, and his brother, John Bromley, who, with two or three other hands, came over in the following year from the Belleek factory in Ireland. Mr. William H. Goss, of Stoke-on-Trent, invented this body some thirty years ago, at which time the elder Bromley was acting as his manager. Messrs. David McBirney and Robert Williams Armstrong were then attempting to make first-class ceramic goods at their recently established manufactory in the village of Belleek, county of Fermanagh, Ireland. Mr. Armstrong induced Bromley to take a number of Mr. Goss's best workmen to Ireland and introduce the egg-shell porcelain there. The ware produced at that factory has since become world-famous, being characterized by extreme lightness of body and a beautiful, lustrous glaze.
|Fig. 19. — Belleek Vase. Ott and Brewer Company.|
The ware now manufactured by the Ott and Brewer Company is made entirely from American materials, and is a vast improvement over the body and glaze first introduced by the Bromleys eight years ago. In the rich iridescence of the nacreous glaze it is fully equal to the original Belleek; in delicacy of coloring and lightness of weight it is even superior. A dozen cups and saucers, making twenty-four distinct pieces of the ordinary size, almost as thin as paper, weigh just one pound avoirdupois, or an average of only two thirds of an ounce each. A large variety of forms of this porcelain are produced, in both ornamental and useful designs. The larger vases are usually simple in outline and of the same comparative lightness as those of smaller size. They often possess pierced necks, feet, and handles, and are elegantly decorated in enamels, gold relief, and chasing.
A triumph of the potter's skill is a Belleek ostrich-egg bonbon-box, in two segments, which is exquisitely perforated or honeycombed over its entire surface. We can not here reproduce more than one or two examples of these beautiful fabrics. One is a large vase of the "Bourne" pattern, decorated in raised gold and colors. The shape is graceful and the decoration is exceedingly artistic (Fig. 19).
In addition to art porcelains, this factory produces a great quantity of granite ware and opaque china, in dinner, tea, and toilet sets, which are both print-decorated and hand-painted. A jardinière of white granite, which we here figure, is a refined example of artistic decoration in quiet tones.
One of the most extensive establishments in the Eastern States is that of the Willets Manufacturing Company of Trenton, N. J.
Fig. 20.—White Granite Jardinière. Ott and Brewer Company.
The present proprietors, Messrs. Joseph, Daniel, and Edmund R. Willets, three brothers, succeeded to the business in 1879. The factory was erected in 1853 by William Young and Sons, who at first made Rockingham and common ware. At the Centennial Exhibition William Young's Sons made a display of crockery and porcelain hardware trimmings, at which time the plant included only four kilns. The business has since grown to such an extent, under the present management, that there are now thirteen large ware kilns besides those used for decorating. The products from these works include sanitary earthenware, plumbers' specialties, white and decorated pottery, opaque china, white granite, and art porcelain. A specialty in dinner and toilet services is underglaze decoration on white bodies.
After the Ott and Brewer Company had perfected the body and glaze of their Belleek ware and got it well under way, William Bromley, Sr., went with the Willets Manufacturing Company and instructed them in the process. The manufacture of white egg-shell ware, to which they are constantly adding new designs, is another specialty of these works, and the company is now competing successfully with the Dresden and other foreign factories in supplying white art porcelain to decorators. In form their pieces are graceful and artistic, one of which is represented in Fig. 22.
They also employ a number of competent artists to decorate their art goods, many of which are reproductions of the characteristic shell and coral forms of the Irish works. Fig. 23 represents a large Belleek vase with openwork handles and chrysanthemum decoration in delicate tints on an ivory, gold-stippled ground.
Fig. 21—Works of the Willets Manufacturing Company, Trenton, N.J.
The Ceramic Art Company, of which Mr. Jonathan Coxon, Sr., is president and Mr. Walter S. Lenox secretary and treasurer, was established in Trenton in 1889. The first i named gentleman became superintendent at the Ott and Brewer Company's works after Bromley left, and the latter was formerly in charge of their decorating department. Here they learned the processes of manufacturing Belleek. Although they have at present but one ware kiln and two decorating kilns, they are rapidly making a name by their constantly increasing patterns, many of which are exquisitely conceived and show the touch of a thorough artist. They have procured the best designers and painters that can be found and employ both the overglaze and underglaze processes in decorating. Their egg-shell ware is also furnished in the white to decorators. Fig, 24 shows one of these undecorated pieces, a graceful lily-shaped cup and saucer. In addition to vases and table pieces, they make many fancy patterns, such as thimbles, inkstands, parasol-handles, menu slabs, and candelabra.
The Phœnixville (Pa.) Pottery, Kaolin, and Fire-brick Company was organized in 1867, and a few years later was succeeded by Messrs. Schreiber & Co., who made yellow and Rockingham ware, and terra-cotta ornaments and wall-pieces.
|Fig. 22. — Shell and Cupid Pitcher — Belleek. Willets Manufacturing Company.|
Heads of hounds and stags in several sizes, and large boars' heads, were made extensively here, and twenty years ago were in demand for decorating the interiors of public-houses. Many of these may still be seen in country taverns. These were considered works of considerable artistic merit when first produced. The antlers and horns of stags and antelopes were made separately and afterward inserted. Messrs. Beerbower & Griffen took the pottery in 1877 and commenced the manufacture of white granite. In 1879 the firm name was changed to Griffen, Smith & Co., and in the following year the manufacture of "Etruscan" majolica was added. From 1880 to 1890 the factory produced a good grade of white and decorated china, mostly in table services and toilet sets. Through their majolica and "stucco" productions, however, the firm became more widely known, and within the past few years they have made many decorative pieces in shell and dolphin patterns, after the Irish Belleek forms. Since the fire, which destroyed a large portion of the works recently, the manufacture of majolica has been discontinued. Mr. Smith withdrew from the firm in 1889 and erected levigating mills at Toughkenamon. Pa., near which place are large beds of kaolin. The firm style was then changed to Griffen, Love & Co.
As early as 1882 experiments were commenced in the manufacture of hard porcelain, and a series of sample pieces were made for the New Orleans Exhibition. The quality and designs of these trial pieces were creditable, and the experiment has shown that this factory is capable of producing true porcelain of a high order. One of the New Orleans pieces, a pitcher of thin semi-transparent body, was also made in white earthenware, glazed and gilded, the latter of which is reproduced in Fig. 25. It is in the shape of a canteen, the mouth representing the head of a Continental soldier. The raised designs are flesh-colored, on a solid gold ground. The three-cornered hat is black. Mr. Scott Callowhill, an English artist of ability, was employed for a while in modeling and painting, but recently left, to accept a position with the Providential Tile Works of Trenton.
|Fig. 23. — Large Vase — Chrysanthemum Decoration. Willets Manufacturing Company.|
At the beginning of the present year a change was made in the proprietorship, and a new company has been incorporated, under the title of the Griffen China Company, which will hereafter make a specialty of fine translucent French china, in plain white table services. The company will also, at an early day, manufacture fancy tiles, under the direction of Mr. A, D. Vitan, a practical French potter, formerly at Greenpoint, Long Island. This gentleman has just perfected an improved machine for manufacturing art tiles, and another for making plates.
The Borroughs and Mountford Company commenced business in Trenton in 1879, in what was formerly the Eagle Pottery. Their specialties are vitrified, thin, and hotel china, and underglaze printing on pottery and porcelain. The mechanical application of decorations is the distinguishing characteristic of one line of their art potteries, which, while closely imitating the more expensive methods of hand-painting, enables them to produce highly artistic effects at a greatly reduced cost. The bold ornamentation of their jardinières, umbrella-jars, punch-bowls, and vases, after the Doulton, Royal Worcester, and Adderley methods, bears a striking individuality of its own. Probably their most beautiful pieces are those on which raised gold designs are applied by hand to an exquisite mazarine blue. White tiles of the finest quality, with underglaze blue
|Fig. 24. — Egg-shell Porcelain — The "Engagement" Cup and Saucer. Ceramic Art Company.|
printed devices, as well as embossed and art tiles, are also made to some extent. The Greenwood Pottery Company, incorporated in Trenton in 1868, make a specialty of the manufacture of vitrified and translucent china for hotel, steamship, and railway uses. This pottery was established in 1861, under the style of Stephens, Tams & Co. They are also making, at the present time, thin china table ware for domestic purposes, porcelain hardware trimmings, and electrical, telegraph, and telephone insulating supplies. Some years ago they added an art department
|Fig. 25. — White-ware Pitcher. Phœnixville, Pa.|
to their extensive establishment, and their decorated productions are characterized by elegance of form, being decorated usually in the Royal Worcester style, with ivory finish and raised gold, silver, and bronze effects. The plant of the company consists of seventeen large kilns, with an annual producing capacity of over half a million dollars.
Among the other important Trenton establishments is that of Messrs. Oliphant & Co., which turns out large quantities of plumbers' sanitary appliances, druggists' and jewelers' supplies. About 1886 the late Mr. Thomas Connolly, a partner in the concern, commenced experimenting in Belleek wares, having been at one time connected with the Irish works. He succeeded in producing some exquisitely thin trial pieces, and demonstrated the fact that these works could manufacture egg-shell ware of the highest grade. The few pieces which were produced, consisting of small ewers, cups and saucers, were fired in the large kilns with the sanitary ware. For some unknown reason, however, this
Fig. 26. — Ewer Vase. Faience Manufacturing Company.
branch of the business was never developed beyond the experimental stage.
The Knowles, Taylor and Knowles Company, of East Liverpool, Ohio, have the largest works in America, their plant covering ten acres and including thirty-five ware and decorating kilns. The business was started in 1854 by Mr, Isaac W. Knowles and Mr. Isaac A. Harvey, who, with a single kiln, made yellow ware and, later, Rockingham, In 1870 Mr. Knowles, who had purchased the interest of his former partner, was joined by Messrs. John N. Taylor and Homer S. Knowles, and in 187:3 they commenced the manufacture of iron-stone china and white granite ware. The business of the company has had a phenomenal growth, and at the present time they employ about seven hundred hands in the production of extensive lines of white granite and vitreous hotel china, which they supply to the trade.
The Faience Manufacturing Company, of Greenpoint, Long Island, produces white ware artistically decorated and, we believe, a limited quantity of porcelain. The pieces are of ornamental rather than of useful shapes. The engraving (Fig. 26) represents a ewer vase from this factory with open-work handle and molded figure of bird. It is unfortunate that the secrets of this factory should be guarded so jealously as to deprive us of all knowledge concerning the processes employed and the qualities of the wares produced. Repeated inquiries have failed to elicit any reply.
To Mr. Thomas C. Smith, of Greenpoint, Long Island, belongs the honor of being the first American manufacturer who has been successful in placing upon the market a true hard porcelain as a commercial article. His experiments, which extended over a number of years, first commenced to bear fruit about 1865, when he perfected a plain white ware, and a year afterward he commenced to decorate his goods. The Union Porcelain Works, of which Messrs. Thomas C. Smith and C. H. L. Smith are the proprietors, have produced many decorative pieces in addition to their staple productions of true porcelain table ware.
This porcelain is composed in body of clay, quartz, and feldspar. It is fired in biscuit at a low temperature, in the second story of the porcelain kiln, using for its baking the surplus heat passing away after having done its greater work in the first story or gloss-kiln where the glazing is done. At this first burning the ware receives only sufficient fire to make it properly fasten together in form. It is quite fragile, easily broken with the fingers, and porous, not having yet had sufficient heat to commence vitrification. In this condition it is what is termed porcelain biscuit, and is ready for the glaze-tub. The glaze of porcelain is composed of the same material as the body, and so compounded that those elements which are soonest fluxed by the influence of the heat are in greater proportion than they are contained in the body. The porous, low-fired biscuit is dipped into a liquid puddle of glaze. Upon being withdrawn its porosity quickly absorbs the excess of water, leaving a dry coating of the glaze compound, which was held by the water in suspension, upon the surface of the piece. This piece of porous biscuit covered with glaze is now cleaned of glaze upon its foot, or that part upon which it rests, to prevent its sticking or burning fast to the clay "sagger" or firing case; otherwise the glaze on the bearing parts would, at the time of flowing, form a cement, fastening the piece and the sagger together. The pieces are placed separately in the saggers. The heat in firing hard porcelain is carried to such a high degree that the ware touches the point of pliability, almost the melting-point.
|Fig. 27.-Bust of Edwin Forrest as William Tell. Union Porcelain Works.|
At this point of heat the body is vitrified; at the same time the glaze, from its slightly softer composition, is melted into the body of the ware, producing a hard, vitreous, and homogeneous material properly known as true, hard porcelain. This is the process used at Sèvres, Meissen, Berlin, and elsewhere.
The earthenware method is just the reverse of this. The body is composed of much the same materials as a porcelain body, but differently compounded, and it is baked in biscuit at the first firing at a greater heat than is required for porcelain biscuit, and receives during that first burning the greatest heat to which it is subjected in the entire process of manufacture. The glaze is composed partly of the same materials as compose the body, with the addition of oxide of lead and boracic acid, which latter, being soft, fluxes in the fire, enabling the glaze to flow at a low heat. It is fired the second time in the gloss-kiln at a lower temperature than it has previously been fired in biscuit. This results in flowing the soft glaze over the surface of the ware, making substantially a lead-glass film or coating upon the surface of different compounds and materials, not homogeneous, not a part of the ware by being fused into the body as in porcelain. The body and glaze being thus in constant antagonism to each other, produce sooner or later what is technically called "crazing" or cracking of the enamel, for the reason that the body is one thing, produced
Fig. 28. — Tête-à-tête set. Union porcelain Works.
at a higher temperature, and the glaze another, produced at a lower temperature, and not as in porcelain, body and glaze produced at the same time, and at the last and greatest heat.
Fig. 28 shows a tête-à-tête set, with head of Chinaman on the cover of the tea-pot, a negro's head on the sugar-bowl, and goat's head on the creamer. The Union Porcelain Works also manufacture largely hard porcelain insulators and hardware trimmings.
The exquisite fabrications of the Greenpoint works have done much to dispel that unreasonable prejudice which until recently condemned all American productions, of whatsoever merit.
Beautiful as are many of the delicate productions of the potter's skill which are made in molds or by the aid of machinery, clay is a material which yields the most subtle and satisfactory results to the direct touch of the human hand. While printing processes are excellent in their way and indispensable for cheapness where large production is an element to be considered, they are inadequate to give that breadth and freedom of treatment which constitute true artistic decoration.
While visiting the Centennial, Miss M. Louise McLaughlm, of Cincinnati, was strongly impressed with the beauty of the then novel faience from the Haviland potteries of Limoges, and on her return home she determined to discover, if possible, the processes of decoration. Her experiments, partially successful, extended over a period of nearly three years, and in April, 1879, she gathered around her twelve ladies who were interested in decorative art, and the Pottery Club, which has since exercised such an important influence on the ceramic industry in Cincinnati, was then organized. Miss McLaughlin being elected president and Miss Clara Chipman Newton secretary. Experiments were continued at some of the city potteries, where red, yellow, and white wares were made. On the unburned ware colored clays were applied in the manner of oil paints, and some satisfactory results were obtained.
The ceramic display of Japan at the Philadelphia Exhibition was, more than any other perhaps, the artistic impulse that inspired the venture which resulted in the establishment of the Rookwood Pottery in 1880 by Mrs. Maria Longworth Nicholls. Her experiments were continued at this factory, which, through the liberal patronage of Mr. Joseph Longworth, her father, was furnished with the necessary means for carrying it on until its productions had found a market and it could stand financially alone.
The ware produced here is a true faience, and while the shapes employed are mainly reproductions or variations of classic Greek forms, they possess a marked originality in treatment. The potter's wheel is used as far as possible, on account of giving more freedom and greater variety to the outlines. Mr. Charles Mahar is the only thrower employed at the pottery, and his graceful creations have obtained a world-wide celebrity. The method of casting in vogue is that which consists in pouring liquid clay into plaster molds, which absorb the superabundant moisture from the adjacent clay. The thin slip is then emptied from the center of the molds, leaving a shell of uniform thickness, which is allowed to stand a while longer before being removed.
The bodies are made of clays found mainly in the Ohio Valley, though samples are being constantly sent to Mr. Joseph Bailey the superintendent, from all parts of the country. The clays mostly used are a red variety from Buena Vista, Ohio; yellow from Ironton, Ohio; and a whitish or cream-colored clay from Chattanooga — artificially tinted bodies being also used to some extent. The glazing, however, is the most distinctive characteristic of the Rookwood Pottery, which, when applied to the tinted
Fig. 29. — Group of Rookwood Vases.
bodies, produces the effect of rich tones of black, yellow, green, red, brown, and amber, harmoniously blended, of great depth and strength. A number of competent artists are constantly employed m beautifying the wares, the decorations being entirely underglaze. Mr. Kataro Shirayamadani, a Japanese painter of the best school, is doing some of the finest work in Oriental methods. Mr. A. R. Valentien, Mr. M. A. Daly, and others rank among the best American decorators in their particular lines. The above engraving will give a fair idea of some of the forms of vases produced, but no adequate conception of the great beauty of the glazing can be conveyed in black and white.
It is not generally known that the Rookwood Pottery has produced varieties of ware other than the richly glazed pottery which has recently become so familiar through its exhibition in the prominent art-stores of the country. In the earlier years, commencing about 1881, cream-colored ware, with blue prints of fishes and reptiles, was made. One of these early plates so decorated is here figured. Yellow ware of the finest quality was also produced ten years ago. The highest achievements in glazing are the so-called tiger's-eye and gold-stone, which glisten in the light with an auriferous sheen and all the changing hues of the rainbow.
The Rookwood Pottery was the first in this country to demonstrate the fact that a purely American art-production, in which original and conscientious work is made paramount to commercial considerations, can be appreciated by the American public; for financially this enterprise has recently proved successful, and under the efficient management of Mr. W. W. Taylor, the
|Fig. 30. — Rookwood Plate, Printed Decoration.|
enthusiastic president of the company, experiments are being constantly prosecuted to discover new bodies, colors, and glazes. At the present time a new building, with improved equipments, is being erected on the summit of Mount Adams, which, it is expected, will be ready for occupancy before the end of the present year.
Within the past few years other potteries have attempted in Cincinnati to make decorated ware, with varying success. One founded by Mr. M. Morgan produced a faience modeled in low relief, in Moorish designs, and the Avon Pottery commenced the manufacture of a ware somewhat resembling the Rookwood; but both were closed after a brief existence.
The Cincinnati Art Pottery Company, Mr. Frank Huntington, president, was organized in 1870, and for several years confined its work to an underglaze faience after the Lambeth style. Later it made Barbotine ware in applied work, but soon dropped this and turned its attention to a more artistic style of overglaze decoration. For a time the "Hungarian faience" was popular with the purchasing public. We are enabled to give an engraving of examples of this (Fig. 31). The latest style of work produced at this factory is called the "Portland blue faience," which consists of gold and colored decoration on a dark, rich blue ground, of the color of the famous Portland vase. The name kezonta has been adopted to designate the wares made here. The origin of the word is interesting. The trade-mark used was the figure of a turtle, and afterward learning that the Indian name for turtle was kezonta, the proprietors added this name to the device which
Fig. 31. — "Hungarian Faience." Cincinnati Art Pottery Company.
was employed. Pottery in the biscuit and in blue and white glaze has been sold largely to decorators, the forms being generally modifications of the ancient Roman and Greek. It is with regret we learn that this pottery has been recently closed, the stock of ware on hand having been disposed of by auction.
This, in brief, is the history of the industry which in the past few years has made Cincinnati noted as an art center. In the city Art Museum are about eighty pieces of pottery and porcelain, made between 1875 and 1886, commencing with a small porcelain plate, in blue underglaze decoration, which was painted by Miss McLaughlin in the former year and fired at Greenpoint, Long Island. This collection of early experiments also includes a number of interesting pieces made previous to the establishment of the Rookwood Pottery, by its founder, Mrs. Bellamy Storer, then Mrs. Nicholls.
Some original work of high merit is also being done at the Hampshire Pottery of Messrs. J. S. Taft & Co., Keene, N. H. This pottery was started in 1871 for the manufacture of red ware. Lately the firm has been paying particular attention to art specialties, in new and graceful shapes and novel decorations. The ware is a white, opaque body, covered with a variety of effective glazes. About forty hands are employed, nearly half being decorators. Prof. Edward S. Morse, of Salem, Mass., to whom I am indebted for valuable assistance, first called my attention to these productions.
The Chesapeake Pottery, of Baltimore, Md., was started about ten years ago by Messrs. D. F. Haynes & Co., and was continued without change until 1887, when the style was altered to The Chesapeake Pottery Company, and again, in 1890, to Haynes, Bennett & Co. Mr. Haynes, who is a practical potter of wide experience and an artist and designer of the highest rank, has invented a number of new bodies and produced a wealth of beautiful designs, which, because of the employment of the printing process in decoration, are to-day beautifying the homes of thousands who could not otherwise enjoy the possession of works of artistic merit. Indeed, the engravings, which have been made especially for these productions, possess so much excellence and are so pleasing in their application to graceful forms that they stand as the exception which proves the rule that the best results can usually be obtained without the aid of mechanical processes. Of the many meritorious designs in high grade dinner sets and the one hundred styles of toilet ware in underglaze printing and overgiaze decoration
|Fig. 32. — "Merchant of Venice" Vase. Chesapeake Pottery.|
made at this pottery, among the most charming is the Alsatian pattern, made in the new Avalon china body, embellished with the heads of peasants, drawn by Mr. Jesse Shepherd, or scenes from Shakespeare, drawn by Mr. A. Master especially for this set, and printed in vellum tints. The "Merchant of Venice" set is particularly attractive, in which, in a panel on one side, the trial scene is depicted, where Portia says, "The quality of mercy is not strained — it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven"; and on the other the scene between Antonio, Bassanio, and Shy lock, in which the latter exclaims, "And for these courtesies I'll lend you thus much moneys."
No less pleasing, though of an entirely different character, is the Arundel ware, which is made entirely from American clays. The body possesses no artificial coloring and is thoroughly vitreous, of a rich olive-brown tint and susceptible of fine finish and delicate relief work. Being made entirely of native materials, it has been named after one of the titles and estates of Lord Baltimore. This body is made into many useful and decorative shapes, such as jugs, jardinières, vases, etc. Pieces of this ware may be seen in Fig. 33. In addition to these productions, the Chesapeake Pottery has turned out ornamental flower-pots, Parian cattle-head plaques in high relief, modeled by Mr. James Priestman, of Boston, from studies of typical animals in the noted herd of Mr. Harvey Adams; also two interesting has-reliefs representing Winter and Summer, in Parian, the latter modeled by Mr. Priestman and the former by an English artist.
The Clifton ware from this manufactory belongs to the majolica family, and is said to equal, if not surpass, in body the famous Wedgwood ware of the same class.
|Fig. 33. — "Arundel" Ware. Chesapeake Pottery.|
The ivory ware possesses a body of a soft ivory tint, made from native clays, without the addition of coloring either in body or glaze, whose soft grain and texture render it peculiarly adapted for free treatment and tasteful decoration. Medallions in various colored pastes, on bodies of different tints, which are baked at one firing, have been compared favorably with some of the fine wares made at Etruria, the result of years of intelligent study and experiment in American materials. Many other bodies of equal merit have been invented at this factory, but we have not the space to dwell upon them.
No one of our potters has done so much to beautify the wares for daily use in the household as Mr. Haynes, or accomplished more in the direction of elevating and refining the tastes of the masses, which he considers of even greater importance than the production of a few fine pieces which could only be within the reach of the wealthy. That he has succeeded in this laudable effort is amply demonstrated by the extent to which many of his designs have been copied both at home and abroad.
Tiles. — The history of the ceramic art in America would not be complete without a brief review of the manufacture of ornamental tiles and architectural terra-cotta, which, although extending over only about two decades, furnishes an instance of marvelously rapid development.
As early as 1832, or thereabout, plain fire-brick and tile were made by the American China Manufactory in Philadelphia, then operated by Messrs. Tucker & Hemphill. They advertised these products as being "of a superior quality, manufactured in part from the materials of which the china is composed. These have been proved, by competent judges, to be fully equal to the best Stourbridge brick," which have been celebrated for their excellence for nearly a century and a half. The fire-clays of the Stourbridge district have been used for upward of three hundred years by British manufacturers.
The European exhibits of fancy wall and floor tiles at the Philadelphia Exhibition awakened the American ceramists to a full realization of their insignificance in this broad field,
|Fig. 34. — Some of the First Fancy American Tiles. Hyzer and Lewellen.|
and the majority of ornamental tile works in this country have been established since that great industrial event. With the exception of roofing tiles, Americans made there no exhibit of consequence in this department of the fictile art. As early as 1871 or 1872, however, Messrs. Hyzer & Lewellen, of Philadelphia, had been experimenting in geometrical tiling, and I have before me some interesting examples of these early attempts. Their first experiments were directed to the manufacture of encaustic tiles of geometrical shapes — square, diamond, and triangular — with natural and artificially colored American clays, mainly buff, red, and black, the designs being inlaid to the depth of about a quarter of an inch. While these efforts proved partially successful, the wet clay method employed at that time was unsatisfactory, because the shrinkage was found to be irregular and the pieces came from the kiln of different thicknesses. The next experiments were made by the damp-dust process, which has been employed ever since. The accompanying illustration will show two forms of geometrical wall tiles which, were made previous to 1870. They are plain tiles of yellow clay, of great hardness, the glaze being also hard and entirely free from "crazing," and fully equal to anything of the kind which has since been produced. The hexagonal specimen figured is decorated with painted designs above the glaze, consisting of a green vine on a buff ground, with a red center outlined in black. The lozenge-shaped example is painted with a black device on a lemon ground. Later, several patterns of embossed unglazed mantel tiles, in conventional decoration, were produced, but the manufacture of ornamental tiles was only carried on a short time. At present they make plain geometrical floor tiles of different colored bodies and of exceeding hardness. The clay used is fine and homogeneous, and when burned almost approaches stone-ware. The firm also manufactures fire-brick, dental muffles, and stove-linings.
Furnace tests of the standing-up power of the best-known fire-bricks, instituted by the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania in 1876, at Harrisburg, showed that the productions of Messrs. Hyzer & Lewellen were superior, in heat-resisting qualities, to all others that were submitted for examination.
Scarcely two years after the Centennial, Mr. John G. Low, of Chelsea, Mass., who had finished a course of several years in the art schools of Paris, and had recently become interested in the manufacture of pottery, formed a copartnership with his father, Hon. John Low, and immediately commenced the erection of a tile-factory in his native place. Less than a year and a half after the works were started we find the firm competing with English tile-makers at the exhibition at Crewe, near Stoke-on-Trent, which was conducted under the auspices of the Royal Manchester, Liverpool, and North Lancashire Agricultural Society, one of the oldest societies in England. There they won the gold medal, over all the manufacturers of the United Kingdom, for the best collection of art tiles exhibited. This record, probably unsurpassed in ceramic history, serves to illustrate the remarkably rapid development of an industry new in America, but old in the East, and shows the resources at command of the American potter.
In 1883 Hon. John Low retired from the firm, and Mr. John F. Low, son of the founder, became associated with his father, under the style of J. G. & J. F. Low.
Mr. Arthur Osborne, who has designed the majority of the tiles produced here, is a talented artist of the older schools of art, whose conceptions are chaste and classic and possess marked originality.
A novel method was resorted to by Mr. Low in the embellishment of his earlier productions, which he has patented, and which be calls the "natural" process. To secure accurate impressions of delicate objects, such, as grasses, leaves, lace, etc., the article to be represented was placed on the surface of the unburned tile and forced into the clay by means of a press.
|Fig. 35. — A "Low" Tile, "The Flying Moments." By Osborne.|
Such intaglios, plainly showing every small detail of marking, were utilized as molds for forming the raised designs on tiles, which were called "natural tiles."
In the high-relief tiles the undercutting is done by hand after the designs have been stamped in the press. Among Mr. Osborne's designs are ideal heads, mythological subjects, portraits of prominent men, Japanese sketches, and an almost endless variety of animal, bird, and floral studies. His plastic sketches, on a larger scale, are particularly meritorious, some of the most pleasing being a group of sheep in a pasture, a drove of swine, entitled "Late for Dinner," a herd of cows wending their way homeward, and "The Old Windmill." A beautiful conceit is the "Flying Moments," in which three Cupids hover around an hour-glass, one being depicted in the act of winging his way upward (see Fig. 35). These works also make stove tiles, calendar tiles, clothes-hooks, paper-weights, inkstands, and pitchers in plain colors, enameled, and glazed.
|Fig. 36. — Panel for Soda Fountain. J. G. & J. F. Low.|
They at one time also manufactured tile stoves. Lately the Lows have been making a specialty of the manufacture of art-tile soda fountains, in which work Mr. Osborne has found a broader field for the exercise of his talents.
The United States Encaustic Tile Works, of Indianapolis, Ind., is the outgrowth of the United States Encaustic Tile Company, which was organized shortly after the Centennial. Five years ago the present proprietors took charge of the works, and are now making encaustic geometrical and relief mantel tiles. So rapidly has the business grown in the past few years that the plant now includes six bisque and twelve muffle kilns, which are taxed to their utmost capacity. The clays used for white bodies come from South Carolina and Kentucky, and those for dark bodies are obtained from Indiana, the burning being done by means of natural gas. Miss Ruth Winterbotham, who is at present the principal modeler of this factory, has produced many beautiful
|Fig. 37. — "Twilight" Tile. United States Encaustic Tile Works. Designed by Miss Winterbotham.|
designs, of which some three and six section panels are probably the most artistic. A series of three mantel panels, representing Dawn, Midday, and Twilight, are particularly deserving of mention, the latter one being shown in the annexed engraving. The method employed in making embossed or relief tiles is that used by all tile works in this country, which was patented by Richard Prosser, in England, in 1840, for making buttons, and shortly after applied by J. M. Blashfield to the manufacture of tiles, called the dust process, which consists in slightly moistening the dry powdered white clay and subjecting it to great pressure in dies containing the designs to be impressed upon them. They are then burned and afterward glazed or enameled in delicate colors. Mr. Robert Minton Taylor, of England, was connected with these works from 1881 to 1883.
The Beaver Falls Art Tile Company, limited, of Beaver Falls, Pa., was organized in 1886 by Mr. Frank W. Walker, the present secretary and treasurer. These works make a specialty of rectangular and circular stove tiles and manufacture largely fine art relief tiles for wainscoting, hearths, and mantel facings. The present designer is Prof. Isaac Broome, a gentleman of rare artistic ability, a thorough potter, and a sculptor of eminence, who became connected with the works in 1890. In 1878 he was appointed a special commissioner on ceramics at the Paris Exposition and, in conjunction with General McClellan, made a thorough study of the ceramic art as it exists abroad. The varied and extensive knowledge which he has acquired through a life of study has especially fitted him for the work upon which he is now engaged. After leaving the Ott and Brewer Company he went in 1883 with the Harris Manufacturing Company, now the Trent Tile Company, as modeler, and afterward in 1886, was instrumental in establishing the Providential Tile Works, of Trenton, N. J., and designed many of their best works. Through his influence the Beaver Falls establishment has made, during the past year and a half, rapid strides in the development of decorative tile manufacture. A complete ceramic color scale has been achieved and a series of glazes produced, of soft, rich tones, a most important result obtained being entire freedom from "crazing," which has already given these works a high reputation Prof. Broome is an indefatigable worker and a prolific artist, his sculptures being characterized by exquisite conception and beautiful execution. While he has produced many more pretentious works, some of his simple
Fig. 38. — Beaver Falls Stove Tiles.
designs leave nothing to be desired. One of his most highly admired pieces is a six-inch tile with a Grecian figure (Sappho) leaning on a harp. Prof. Broome has also designed some twelve by twelve inch tiles of great merit which will soon be submitted to the public.
The American Encaustic Tiling Company, of Zanesville, Ohio, is the most extensive establishment of the kind in the United States. It manufactures artistic and encaustic tiles, and has placed upon the market some fine pieces of relief work, twelve by eighteen inches in size^ among the subjects of which we have seen some female water-carriers of Grecian type. This factory also makes an intaglio modeled tile, the effect of which, when filled with glaze, is that of a photograph on a smooth surface of clay. The different depths of the engraving regulate the degree of shading, and portraits of individuals have been executed with great fidelity. It has been mainly through the intelligent management of Mr. George A. Stanbery, the general superintendent, with the assistance of Mr. Karl Langenbeck, the efficient chemist of the company, that such marked success has been achieved. The
Fig. 39.—"Sappho." Beaver Falls Art Tile Company. By Broome.
modeling and casting of the dies are the work of Mr. Hermann Mueller, formerly of Coburg, who studied in the Industrial Academy and Preparatory Art School of Nuremberg, and in the Art Academy of Munich. For geometrical designing of encaustic tiles used in flooring and wainscoting the factory employs several competent architects.
The works were projected in 1875 for the manufacture of floor tiles, but in 1880 enameled tiles were added to the products of the factory, and at the present time eleven large kilns are in operation. The city of Zanesville has recently donated a tract of thirty acres to the company, on which an extensive plant is now being erected which will include twenty-eight kilns, to be operated in addition to the present establishment.
The Trent Tile Company, of Trenton. N. J., established about 1883, is now making dull lustered tiles in alto-relievo, which process has been patented. This style of finish forms a striking contrast to the glazed and enameled varieties also made here. Effective panels for mantel facings, six by eighteen inches, in one piece, are also produced. One of these is a center panel in a pastoral facing, which was modeled by Mr. William W. Gallimore, from a sketch in black and white by an artist of the name of Cooper. The scene represents a shepherd boy playing his pipes to his flock.
Fig. 40.—Dull Finished Tiles. Trent Tile Company.
The peculiar treatment of this piece, in which the sheep in the foreground are in relief and those in the distance in intaglio, is particularly pleasing. Mr, Gallimore, the present modeler for this company, was in his earlier days connected with the Belleek potteries in Ireland, where he lost his right arm by the bursting of a gun. He afterward modeled for Mr. William Henry Goss, at London Road, Stoke-upon-Trent, where, under the supervision of the latter, he produced some admirable Parian busts, including that of the late Mr. Llewellynn Jewitt, which serves as the frontispiece
Fig. 41.—Pastoral Panel. Trent Tile Company.
to the latter 's Ceramic Art in Great Britain. Since the loss of his arm, Mr. Gallimore has done his modeling with his left hand, and he has accomplished better work with one arm than he did when in possession of both. He has been with the Trent Company about four years. This company has now six biscuit kilns, and, in addition to the wares made for the general trade, is turning out considerable work of a special nature. The Providential Tile Works, of Trenton, make glazed tiles, plain and in relief. At one time they experimented in different colored glazes on the same piece, the raised portions being of a different tint from the ground, and some good results were obtained by this treatment. Underglaze decoration was also employed to
Fig. 42. — Tile Panel, "Indolence." Providential Works.
some extent formerly, and some fine work in that line was produced, but both of these styles have been abandoned as unsuited to the market. The present designer and modeler is Mr. Scott Callowhill, who came to this country about six years ago from the Royal Worcester Works, England, where, with his brother, Mr. James Callowhill, now of Roslindale, Mass., he had charge of two of the principal decorating-rooms in which the finer class of decoration, in raised paste and gold bronze, was done. He also, while in England, worked for the Doultons, at Lambeth. Some of their newest designs are relief tiles, measuring six by twelve inches, and among their most popular pieces are hunting panels for mantel facings, with such subjects as fighting bucks, stags' heads, sportsmen, and dogs.
One of the most recent applicants for public favor is the Cambridge Art Tile Works, of Covington, Ky.. which commenced business in 1887. They are producing high grade enameled and embossed goods of various shapes and in size from one half inch square to six by eighteen inches. The glazes employed are remarkably free from "crazing." The designer and modeler is Mr. Ferdinand Mersman, who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. A pair of six by eighteen inch panels, which have just been completed, are examples of exquisite modeling, being copies of Hans Makart's celebrated paintings "Night" and "Morning."
At Anderson, Ind.. the Columbia Encaustic Tile Company is producing inlaid and embossed art tiles, and at other points tile factories are in operation, but we must content ourselves with this very incomplete sketch of the principal establishments in this country.
|Fig. 43. — The Wilkes Screw Tile Press.|
In the manufacture of printed, inlaid, and relief tiles, America has advanced rapidly, but in the production of hand-painted art tiles she is sadly deficient. This is a branch of the art that must be developed through the influence of our mechanical art schools, which are paving the way for an early revolution in the ceramic industry in the United States.
Various tile machines have been designed for the manufacture of tiles from dust or semi-dry clay, but we are unable here to reproduce more than one. Fig. 43 shows a screw press, made by Mr. Peter Wilkes, of Trenton, for the Trent Tile Company, and will give an excellent idea of the principle on which the majority of such machines are operated. This forms tiles six inches to twelve inches square, the die being placed between the "push-up" and "plunger." It can also be used for making plates, oval dishes, and other ware.
Architectural Terra Cotta. — It is interesting to note what the fifth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published in 1815, contains relative to this subject: "Worlidge, and others after him, have endeavored to excite brick-makers to try their skill in making a new kind of brick, or a composition of clay and sand, whereof to form window-frames, chimney-pieces, door-cases, and the like. It is to be made in pieces, fashioned in molds, which, when burnt, may be set together with a fine red cement, and seem as one entire piece. The thing should seem feasible." And so we shall find that it was.
Terra cotta, the most enduring of all building materials, has been used to a greater or lesser extent from a high antiquity in continental Europe, and in England terra-cotta trimmings were used in building as early as the fifteenth, century. In the United States this material does not seem to have been introduced until after 1850. Experiments were made in this direction in 1853 by
Fig. 44.—Three Kilns. Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company.
Mr. James Renwick, a prominent New York architect, but the innovation was not received with favor by builders. In 1870 the Chicago Terra Cotta Company brought over from England Mr. James Taylor. superintendent of the well-known works which were established by Mr J. M. Blashfield in 1858. By the introduction of the English methods, the Chicago establishment soon turned out better work than had been produced before in the United States,
The Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company was incorporated in 1879, and at once embarked in the manufacture of large designs for architectural purposes from clay obtained from the neighboring deposits. The plant of this company has expanded so rapidly that at present it includes twenty-two kilns, some of them measuring forty-eight and one third feet in height and twenty-four and one sixth in diameter, which are said to be the largest of the kind on this continent, if not in the world.
The company has in its employ a number of eminent artists in this particular line, and has furnished terra-cotta details for many prominent buildings throughout the country. Of these we may mention Young Maennerchor Hall, Philadelphia; Ponce de Leon Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida; Biological Laboratory, Princeton College; and Central School, Ironton, Ohio. Fig. 45 represents a large panel in a warehouse in Jersey City, and Fig. 46 a bas-relief in the St. Anthony Club House, Philadelphia. Since about 1880 the demand for architectural terra cotta has rapidly increased, and to-day many mannfactories are in operation in various parts of the country. In the latter part of 1885
the New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company was organized, and the services of Mr. James Taylor secured as superintendent. The works at Long Island City have furnished designs for more than two thousand buildings, scattered throughout the principal cities of the Union. They have lately succeeded in producing a pure white terra cotta, which is said to be fully equal to the red in durability and hardness, and at present are using this latest invention, in combination with buff bricks, in the rebuilding of Harrigan's Theatre, New York.
|Fig. 47.—Panel in Residence of Mr. George Alfred Townsend, Gapland, Me. New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company.|
The effect is novel and pleasing. Other architectural terra-cotta works have also been experimenting recently in the same direction, and it is now only a question of a short time when the more perishable marble, as a building material, will be superseded by this more enduring substitute. Having eliminated the red coloring matter from the composition, it would seem possible, by the introduction of other tints, to produce terra cotta in yellow, blue, or any shade desired. The possibilities in this direction appear almost limitless.
The Indianapolis Terra Cotta Company, located at Brightwood, Ind., commenced business under its present management in 1886. Mr. Joseph Joiner, a gentleman of large experience in this field, and a highly qualified architect, superintends the manufacturing department. In the same year Messrs. Stephens & Leach started a factory for architectural terra cotta in West Philadelphia, and later the firm name was changed to Stephens, Armstrong & Conkling.
Fig. 48. — Finials. Indianapolis Terra Cotta Company.
During the five years of the works' existence it has furnished material for hundreds of important structures in Philadelphia and other cities, of which particular mention may be made of panels
|Fig. 49.—Medallion of Columbus.|
and gable work in the library of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Drexel Institute, now being erected in West Philadelphia. A series of animal-head medallions, in high relief, are particularly excellent, and some bas-relief portraits of eminent men, modeled by such sculptors as H. J. Ellicott, John Boyle, and E. N. Conkling, are among their best productions. A medallion of Columbus by Mr. Conkling, and a Cupid and floral panel by Thomas Robertson, are here represented. Admirable work is also being produced by other establishments in Boston, Chicago, and most of our larger cities. Recently considerable attention has been given to the construction of brick and tile kilns on scientific principles. Many improved kilns, both on the up-draft and the down-draft systems, have been invented. Art tiles and architectural terra cotta are being burned in up-draft kilns with closed tops, or muffled kilns, in which "saggers," or fire-clay boxes, are used to protect the pieces from direct contact with the flames. Mr. W. A. Eudaly,
Fig. 50. — Floral Panel.
of Cincinnati, has perfected a down-draft kiln which is arranged with compartments in the bottom, which are provided with two separate and distinct sets of flues, one of which carries a portion of the heat into the kiln, and the other conducts a portion from the kiln to stacks or chimneys built in the main wall. The heat is thus divided as it enters the kiln or leaves the furnace, a portion going up through the bags to the ware at the top, while another part surrounds the ware at the bottom of the kiln, securing uniformity of burning and perfect consumption of fuel and gases. By this method tiles and architectural terra cotta, as well as enamel brick, enameled when green, and thus requiring only one firing, are successfully burned without the use of saggers. Mr. Eudaly also constructs a square down-draft kiln on precisely the same principles, but better adapted to the manufacture of common brick, fire-brick, and sewer-pipe in large quantity, the brick-kilns having a capacity of 80,000 to 300,000, the inside arrangement being such that the heat can be driven to any part of the kiln without altering the fire in the furnace. Thus all the bricks are burned of equal hardness, a vast improvement over the old-fashioned clamp kilns with open tops.
With the failure of natural gas supplies in the West, artificial fuel-gas is destined to become the principal agency in the firing of ceramic products.
|Fig. 51 — The Eudaly Kiln.|
Its extreme cheapness and perfect adaptability to the needs of the potter will insure its extensive use in the near future. There seems to be no reason to doubt that it will, ere long, supersede wood and coal as a kiln fuel.
At the last convention of the United States Potters' Association, held in Washington in January, 1891, it was decided to open a Pottery School with the co-operation of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, at Philadelphia, under the efficient management of Prof. L. W. Miller, where designing, modeling, and chemistry shall be taught, and the student fully equipped for usefulness as a practical potter and artist artisan.
American potters have much to learn, but the day is not far distant when, as is the case with other industries, we shall lead the world in this, the oldest and most interesting of the mechanical arts. The Columbian Exposition of 1893 will serve as a powerful impetus toward this end, and the World's Fair Committee appointed by the United States Potters' Association, and composed of such progressive potters as Messrs. J. N. Taylor, Homer Laughlin, J. H. Brewer, James Moses, E. M. Pearson, D. F. Haynes, and C. E. Brockman, will insure a creditable representation of American goods in this branch of the Exhibition.
It is true that American manufacturers have excelled the English in branches of the art which they have seriously undertaken. Our copies of certain European wares are fully equal to the originals, and in some directions are superior. It only requires the proper appreciation and encouragement of the public to furnish the incentive to a broader application of the principles which have been mastered by American artists, in order to produce the best that has been attempted by the older French, Italian, and German schools. In our reproductions of the thin Belleek ware of Ireland, the Limoges faience of the Havilands, and specialties of other Continental factories, we not only equal them, but often excel them, in delicacy of form and beauty of glaze and decoration. Our relief tiles surpass in artistic merit anything produced abroad of a similar character, having won the first premium over British wares long before we brought them to their present state of perfection. Our architectural terra cottas have, within the past few years, left England behind, and, could the absurd prejudice against home art and native work be overcome, America would soon lead the world in ceramic fabrics of every nature. Americans are commencing to discriminate between the meritorious and the meretricious, and to decide in favor of American goods. Having the richest mines in the world, from which the best materials are
Fig. 52. — Military Panel, G. A. R. Memorial Hall, Wilkesbarre, Pa.
New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company.
procured, the most talented artists, and the most highly cultured public, there is no reason why we should not compete with the entire globe in the manufacture of artistic pottery and porcelain. It has been repeatedly stated that our artists are imitative, rather than inventive; but while this may, to a certain extent, be true, and some of our potters have been content to creditably reproduce the well-known wares of foreign schools, others have directed their attention to the perfection of distinctively original products, which, for richness of glazing, excellence of body, and beauty of conception, will rank with the best productions of Europe. The inventive genius of American potters has a vast and practically limitless field for experimenting, and the art schools which have sprung up in our principal cities may in time produce a second Robbia, a worthy successor to Palissy, or an emulator of that prince of potters, Josiah Wedgwood.