Pros: The American Pottery Industry has had a long and interesting history.
Cons: none noted
Informative Read ~~~ recommended for collectors ~~~ 5 stars
Author/collector Jo Cunningham resides in Springfield, Missouri, with her family. She has been active in collecting American Dinnerware for many years and is a member of several national organizations pertaining to collecting. The Collector's Encyclopedia of American Dinnerware is one of the books she has prepared on the subject
- Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware is an assemblage of dinnerware pieces in addition to commentaries filled with information gleaned from perusal of trade publications, as well as discussions and letters with/to and from pottery people. The intent of the work is to provide some general information to accustom readers with various pottery terms as well introduce information regarding production methods for how American Dinnerware was/is produced. In addition the writer hopes the reader will also gain understanding for many of the major dinnerware companies in America.
Readers should be aware; the pictured pieces shown in the book under company names represent a minute portion of the actual dinnerware pieces available from the company. The book is not offered as the only reference available, or one that includes every item produced during the hey day of pottery making in the US. No single work could encompass every item, pattern or article produced.
The American Pottery Industry has had a long and interesting history. No one can pinpoint exactly the date or site of the first American made pottery. It is generally agreed that the industry likely began in the New Jersey New York area as early as the mid 1600. There is proof of the fact that a number of potteries were well established by the mid 1700s. East Liverpool, Ohio is generally accepted as the beginning of the industry as we know it today.
James Bennett was twenty two years old when he arrived in America in 1834. Following a stint spent as a packer in a Jersey City pottery, so the story goes, he set out in 1837 for Troy, Indiana and after a year or two boarded a steamboat where a chance meeting with a man from East Liverpool led to Bennetts going to Ohio to check out the clay deposits in the area. His first kiln was ready in 1840, and was used to fire pottery.
Another early pioneer in the industry was Benjamin Harker who was in the business in the same area by 1844. Isaac Knowles became the first crockery salesman ; he purchased two crates of dinnerware and sold it down river. The early potteries produced yellow ware, with white ware introduced in 1879 when Harker, Knowles and Laughlin developed white ware at about the same time. From that beginning, East Liverpool became the pottery manufacturing center of the United States.
With the development of white ware came the need for shops to decorate it, and the crockery industry expanded rapidly. Saggers, pins, machinery along with the sites to manufacture them all appeared.
Floods and fires often destroyed potteries which were quickly rebuilt. American pottery remained strong until the Depression when many potteries failed. The advent of plastics as well as public interest in buying imports signaled the death knell for the dinnerware industry during the 1950s. Today the few potteries in existence make very little dinnerware; their output today is focused mostly upon Institutional ware.
- Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware: includes company information, explanation regarding backstamps, reproduction of vintage advertising, and provides a list of values for every piece. Buying pieces with an eye to reselling and making a fortune is risky business, especially for the novice.
Keep in mind: values are not set in stone, values exist to provide the buyer, collector and seller with an awareness of what to expect regarding particular pieces. A piece is worth $50 only if someone is actually willing to pay the price. As with all goods; the smaller the abundance the greater the price tag.
Some of the potteries listed on the pages of - Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware: include Homer Laughlin, Edwin M Knowles, Frankoma, Gonder, Hall and Stuebenville. The potteries listed in the book are by no means the sum of potteries which produced dinnerware. Each pottery had a particular set of designs, decorative motifs and the like.
One collector may choose to collect a single pattern from a single pottery, while another enthusiast may choose to gather one item, perhaps butter dishes or sugar bowls made by as many of the potteries as can be found.
My own collecting has its roots in the Jewel Tea baking dish my mother treasured. It was a wedding present from her sister, my aunt and was the only piece Mom owned. The dish was used primarily at holiday time for holding dressing/stuffing.
When I began teaching, the Jewel Tea company was still a thriving company with little orange vans and salesmen going door to door. I began buying goodies and earned a great many pieces of the dish ware in addition to buying pieces.
The crockery includes tableware, dishes, cups and saucers, cream soups not to be confused as sugar bowls, etc, bake ware casseroles dishes, pie bakers and the like and kitchenware these include batter pitchers not to be confused with water pitchers, mixing bowls, dripping bowls, stove top salt and pepper shakers and the like.
It was only many years later I learned the dinnerware is not Jewel Tea rather it is Hall China Autumn Leaf pattern. It is the most popular of all patterns produced by Hall and was made exclusively for the Jewel Tea company from 1933 to 1976. The decal does appear on some pieces produced by other potteries, the decal did not become exclusive to the Jewel company until later.
Hall China no longer produces the Autumn Leaf ware, however the dinnerware and other kitchen items remain as popular and as collectible as it was in the 50s, 60s, and 90s. It steadily increases in price. There are local, state and nationwide groups devoted to those who collect the pattern.
I also collect Edwin Knowles Yorktown plates.
American pottery produced a vast array of pieces meant for kitchen and dining. From advertising pieces, to dinnerware, kitchenware and beverage ware to childrens pieces; smaller dishes for little people, not toys for playing but tableware for children to use for eating their meals, to the heavy pottery of Coors with its strong solid colors and heavy decorative motifs to the delicate flowery patterns offered by Crooksville to the popular Silhouette patterns; there is something to whet the interest of every collector. A word of caution: the collection can get out of hand very quickly.
Each page of the book is replete with pictures depicting some of the ware produced by the various companies. Company names are listed alphabetically. A single page offering lists and pictures a cup and saucer, utility bowl, creamer, dinner plate, a covered baking dish, platter, bean pot, drip coffee pot, 6 inch plate, custard, serving bowl and soup bowl. All of the pieces were produced by one company, and depict some of the decorative patterns used by that company.
A few key words for the novice pottery collector to learn include ball jug, coffee server, covered drippings, covered jug, covered sugar, canteen jug, covered casserole, divided plate, flat soup, gravy boat, luncheon plate, meat platter pickle dish, pie baker, saucer set, small platter, tab handle bowl, utility plate, utility bowl, utility pitcher, vegetable bowl and these are only a few of the pieces of crockery made.
I particularly enjoy seeing the pages of catalog or magazine advertising added to the discussion of many of the company pages. Beautiful dinnerware sets produced by Crown could be had in 1941 as 32 piece, 35 piece and 42 piece sets costing $8.30, $10.15 and $12.70.
- Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware: is a beautifully done reference book. Mine is well used for looking up patterns both as to shape of pieces and decorative motifs used by the various potteries. The abundance of color photos detail a great many of the styles of ware as well as the decorative motifs which were hand painted or were decals.
Writer Cunningham has provided a nice array for the enthusiast; listing/showing every piece made by every pottery is not feasible. The book weighs darn near 3 pounds as is.
Serious pottery collectors know there is no one book to fit all, and also collect books that detail more pieces and additional potteries. Cunningham is the author of additional books including The Autumn Leaf Story or the so called Jewel Tea pattern, as well as other books dedicated to Autumn Leaf and/or Hall China and Hall China Price Guide, further editions of - Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware several books dedicated to Homer Laughlin China, in addition to various articles pertaining to collectibles published in leading trade papers.
On the pages of - Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware: Crockery pieces are described and pictured along with copies of the original store and catalog ads. All pieces are shown with a suggested price. A price index, as well as a glossary explaining many dinnerware terms, is provided in the back of the book. References to other books is provided. - Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware: is a good choice for novice and seasoned collectors as well as the curious who enjoy Americana. Happy to recommend.
Reviewed by Molly's Reviews
- Collector's Encyclopedia Of American Dinnerware:
Author Jo Cunningham
Hardcover: 319 pages
Publisher: Collector Books; 2 edition
Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.5 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds