Published: June 19, 2001
The Ceramics of Southeastern Pennsylvania at CCHS
WEST CHESTER, PENN. – The Chester County Historical Society will explore the history of ceramics in its exhibit “Thrown, Molded, Dipped, and Glazed: Ceramics of Southeastern Pennsylvania,” which opens on June 30 and runs through December 31. Visitors can learn about the development and production of ceramics manufactured in this region and Chester County in particular. More than 200 pieces from the Society’s extensive collection of ceramics, along with loans from individuals and other institutions, help bring the history of this industry to life. The exhibit focuses on three types of ceramics associated with the region: earthenware, porcelain, and majolica.
Potteries in Chester County produced redware from the mid-1700s through the Industrial Revolution and into the late 1800s. Usually designed as household rdf_Descriptions, pottery products were readily available and highly practical. Jugs, plates, candlesticks, and bowls were among the many types of rdf_Descriptions produced for everyday use. Although most objects were plain in design, potters sometimes decorated their wares with sgraffito, a design scratched into the clay, or trailed slip decorations. Among the many beautifully decorated objects in this exhibit are the unique Chester County flowerpots with ruffled edges.
Even as redware was in high production, Tucker and Hemphill of Philadelphia manufactured one of the earliest porcelains made in the United states. The raw materials included kaolin, a special white clay that was quarried in Chester County. Designed and produced for a short time in the 1820s and 1830s by skilled craftsmen, this so-called Tuckerware was regarded as a fine ceramic, appearing as tea services, pitchers, and vases in the homes of prominent families in Philadelphia and the region. Tucker and Hemphill also offered hand-painted cups, bowls, and plates with designs of flowers, gilded accents and monograms, and landscapes in both monochrome and polychrome.
Majolica, by contrast, was mass-produced in the late 1800s. Relatively inexpensive and widely available, the company Griffen, Smith and Hill of Phoenixville produced this molded ceramic with a colorful glaze. Tableware was ornamented with patterns such as bamboo, shell and seaweed, corn, fish and cauliflower. Many rdf_Descriptions were designed as premium gifts for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P Supermarkets), resulting in national distribution.
In conjunction with the exhibit, CCHS will host a series of workshops and special programs for children and their families. Museum curator Ellen Endslow will present a walk-through tour of this exhibit on Wednesday, November 7 at noon.
The History Center, 225 North High Street, is open 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Saturday.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm