East Liverpool: Pottery queen

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Several areas in the eastern states became established as pottery centers in the mid-1800s, i.e., the Norton and Fenton factories in Bennington, Vt.; others in New Jersey and a third center in East Liverpool, Ohio.

By the mid-1800s, more than 50 potteries were established in Ohio and Rubber Capital Akron was first known as the “Stoneware City” at that time.

East Liverpool was seemingly ideal due to its location on the Ohio River. Other pottery centers had canals, rivers or crude roads but the wide Ohio River assured transportation plus nearby clay resources.

East Liverpool became well known for the yellow ware and Rockingham finish wares produced by migrant journeyman from the areas in eastern America.

Early years. James Bennett founded the pottery manufacture in East Liverpool in 1839. Bennett was seeking an area to improve his health and to continue in a business he was well acquainted with. The native clay near East Liverpool was well suited to manufacture yellow ware that he had become expert in producing.

Frederick Bennett had three brothers in England. After establishing his pottery business in East Liverpool he sent for them in 1841.

With brothers Daniel, Edwin, and William as partners, he not only produced “Queensware” (yellow ware) but the first Rockingham ware to be manufactured in America. Later the brothers became more diversified in the product line.

In 1854, The Knowles, Taylor, & Knowles Company was founded in the East Liverpool area. K T & K produced quantities of hotel ware, a few articles are still to be found in shops, and still in good condition due to its granite ware qualities.

Eventually K T & K facilities occupied 10 acres of ground and had 37 kilns and employed 700 people.

One of the K T & K products that is of scarce quantities is the Belleek china. This scarcity is due to the fact after a fire destroying the K T & K china works in 1889 they ceased to manufacture the ware.

Later, from 1891 to 1898, they began to produce a fine bone china called “Lotus ware” that is also in demand. Some of this china is plain, some decorated.

Eventually, there was almost 20 potteries and allied businesses in East Liverpool.

Ohio’s many potteries manufactured almost every conceivable crock, jar, jug, bowl and other wide mouth ceramic product.

Enter ‘Ringware.’ In the 1930s, a new vogue in ceramic ware became popular in California. This fad was not overlooked by Frederick Rhead, art director for Homer Laughlin China Company in East Liverpool, Ohio.

This ware was known as “Ringware,” with a finish that was an assortment of brilliant colors with a high glaze.

Rhead’s past employment in California and his observation of sales success of the new ware in that state may have attributed to his creation of Fiestaware.

This colorful dinner ware was produced in five vivid colors – blue, green, orange, red and yellow.

In 1936, it was advertised in association with a Mexican fiesta. Fiesta ware was the answer to a housewife’s desire to brighten a table setting.

This ware was sold at a low price through the 5 & 10 stores primarily for the working class of America.

Mixing the color scheme at a table setting was suggested and widely accepted by those tired of a look-alike table service.

A word of caution if you’re collecting pottery: Several manufacturers have reproduced ware either almost duplicate or resembling older ceramics for decades.

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