Tag Archives: Ohio River Pottery

Plain Old White Ironstone Bowls – Perfect for Chili

Plain Old White Ironstone Bowls – Perfect for Chili

Plain Old White Chili Bowl, Buffalo China

A good chili bowl should hold chili. A better than good bowl for chili should not be too wide  – leave the wide bowl for cereal. A wide bowl holds the contents certainly but the narrower width means that the chili will cool down quicker. Maybe a small thing. But early pottery manufacturers in Ohio recognized these small yet critical differences for the food service industry – restaurants, hotels,…

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Ohio River Pottery: Pope-Gosser China

Ohio River Pottery: Pope-Gosser China

Strange Bedfellows: Russel Wright, Pope-Gosser and Haviland Limoges

In the early twentieth century, Mr. Wells the president of Homer Laughlin China Company appeared before a Congressional Committee on tariffs to plead the case of American Potteries. He argued that foreign wares, particularly German and Japanese imports, were given an unfair advantage in the current laws governing tariffs. One of the committee members questioned whether or not quality china was…

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Ohio River Pottery: Black and White Restaurant China

Call it what you will . . . Retro Diner, Restaurant China or Restaurant Ware. To my eye, these plates look fresh and modern. Black is back but did it ever fade away?

The scalloped edge brings a cottage in the country feel. The bold black thick border looks clean and contemporary. Add to a collection or start a collection with these pieces. They will be with you a long, long time.

Adding a few photographs so that you can see them all together and on their own.

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Hard to choose a favorite when I favor them all . . .

 

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Shenango China Plate, Black Arrows and Circles on White

Ohio River Pottery: Shadows by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith & Taylor

The ink was barely dry on his master’s thesis when John Gilkes accepted the position of Lead Designer for the Taylor, Smith Taylor Pottery. Gilkes, under the tutelage of Arthur E. Baggs, the renown potter and professor of ceramics at Ohio State University, researched production techniques for new dinnerware shapes. Innovation was paramount to the potteries that had enjoyed success along the banks of the Ohio River. Especially in light of the heightened competition from the Asian marketplaces and the new attraction of plastics to homemakers.

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Restaurant Ware: Warwick China Company, Wheeling, West Virginia

Restaurant Ware: Warwick China Company, Wheeling, West Virginia

Warwick China Company enjoyed a long history – over sixty years producing decorative pieces, fine dinnerware and finally, vitrified china. According to their catalog ca. 1940s, they produced “Vitrified China for Hotels, Clubs, Restaurants, Institutions, Steamships, Railroads, and Hospitals.”  No doubt, their entry into china production for commercial accounts was one way in which the Warwick…

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Restaurant Ware: Warwick China Company, Wheeling, West Virginia

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Warwick China Company enjoyed a long history – over sixty years producing decorative pieces, fine dinnerware and finally, vitrified china. According to their catalog ca. 1940s, they produced “Vitrified China for Hotels, Clubs, Restaurants, Institutions, Steamships, Railroads, and Hospitals.”  No doubt, their entry into china production for commercial accounts was one way in which the Warwick China Company hoped to keep the kilns firing and so many residents of Wheeling employed. After all, Wheeling was one of the great manufacturing centers in the nineteenth century. Sadly, this manufacturer closed in doors in 1951.

Warwick had produced some of the most beautiful china – highly decorated and complex pieces. They were one of the few American potteries to attempt the manufacture of flow blue. Their expertise was well known in the pottery world. Wheeling of course possessed all of the natural assets necessary to produce, market and ship wares. The chamber of commerce of Wheeling announced that Wheeling was at the crossroads for manufacturing and shipping. Most American pottery was manufactured in the Ohio Valley along the mighty Ohio River. And as a consequence, Wheeling certainly played an important part in the history of Ohio River Pottery.

Map from Chamber of Commerce Brochure

Map from Chamber of Commerce Brochure

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Royal China and Steubenville Pottery

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Royal China (Sebring Ohio) ca. 1950s and Steubenville Pottery (Russel Wright) ca. 1940s 

 

“Anywhere you dig in Sebring you hit pottery shards.  In some places they sit in parking lots or driveways, just
waiting to tell us their history.”

Table Talk: Christmas Morning

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The best thing about Christmas morning is the quiet and the contentment in the air. The stockings so carefully hung are strewn on the floor, paper and ribbon everywhere, sipping hot chocolate with mounds of whipped cream and, of course, a roaring fire! The food we serve on this day differs from family to family based on tradition and quite often, passed down from generation to generation. If you…

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Table Talk: Christmas Morning

The best thing about Christmas morning is the quiet and the contentment in the air. The stockings so carefully hung are strewn on the floor, paper and ribbon everywhere, sipping hot chocolate with mounds of whipped cream and, of course, a roaring fire! The food we serve on this day differs from family to family based on tradition and quite often, passed down from generation to generation. If you were raised in the Catholic Church then you might also know the pure bliss of eating sweets and meat with real gusto! This meal is, after all, the family coming together in all reverence to celebrate the strength of that bond. Setting the table for this gathering is as important as the preparation for an altar . . . china, linen and decoration demonstrate the importance of this gathering of friends and family.

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Ohio River Pottery: H. R. Wyllie China Company

Ohio River Pottery: H. R. Wyllie China Company

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Recently, I found a very old semi porcelain platter in less than pristine condition. I noticed that the gold trim was very very worn, in fact absent in some areas yet, the glaze was excellent,  no cracks and only slight crazing on the bottom. On the bottom of the platter was a mark unknown to me. At once, I tucked it under my arm. The platter appealed to me in many ways –  it was well loved,…

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Ohio River Pottery: H. R. Wyllie China Company

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Recently, I found a very old semi porcelain platter in less than pristine condition. I noticed that the gold trim was very very worn, in fact absent in some areas yet, the glaze was excellent,  no cracks and only slight crazing on the bottom. On the bottom of the platter was a mark unknown to me. At once, I tucked it under my arm. The platter appealed to me in many ways –  it was well loved, very heavy and a mystery to me!

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Wyllie Platter, Remnants of Gold Border Barely Visible (12″ X 16″)

 

 

The search began with the back stamp. The typography is representative of the Arts ad Crafts era;  beautiful but it was difficult to read. I relied on auto-correct in the Google Search Engine using only the last four letters and . . . Voila!  In a few hours, I discovered that the platter was manufactured by the H.R. Wyllie China Company in Huntington, Ohio between 1910-1920. The design for the back stamp is at the  center of the insert graphics in the advertisement for the Wyllie China Company. Judging by the weight and size, the platter was part of the “double thick hotel ware.” As written in the advertisement, there is more evidence that Mr. Wyllie was truly committed to the quality of the china produced in his pottery. He went so far as to write a letter to the editor of The Pottery and Glass Journal asking for a correction. He insisted that he did not produce souvenir plates but china for the most discriminating!

Wyllie China Company, The Pottery and Glass Salesman, Vol. 18

Wyllie China Company, The Pottery and Glass Salesman, Vol. 18

Mr. Wyllie was born in East Liverpool, Ohio. He was not a stranger to pottery production; he learned his craft at this father’s plant. Striking out on his own, he purchased the Huntington China Company (1907). In three short years, the company fell into financial difficulty. In effect, Wylie purchased a commercial kiln that was modern and quite a bargain. The new enterprise was successful; new production kilns were added five years later to fulfill the demand for wares. And still later, Mr. Wyllie took an active roll in the effort to build roads to serve West Virginia. In his introduction for the bill proposed to the West Virginia Legislature, he wrote,

As a manufacturer and business man I appreciate to the fullest possible extent the benefits that will accrue to the business life of West Virginia from the construction of permanent roads. I know that it will mean much from a material viewpoint to the farmer, the miner and the laborer. Good roads mean better schools, more churches and the eradication, of illiteracy. They mean a more contented and more intelligent citizenry and give our boys and girls better opportunities than those which were enjoyed by the mature men and women of today.

The legislation for new roads was passed, which led to some speculation that Mr. Wyllie might better serve the community as a member of the West Virginia Legislature. He was respected as a civcl leader, business owner and a producer of quality goods.  Five years later, Mr. Wyllie died. The china company soon closed its doors, years later the massive structure was demolished leaving behind memories for those who lived in Huntington. A few years back, a new road was built in Huntington. The work crews noticed potshards in the rubble left behind from the demolition of the Wyllie China Company. Some residents of Huntington arrived at the scene in search of those fragments of their history. One long time resident added that he still remembered Mr. Wyllie smiling at him when they passed on the street. Mr. Wyllie left a a beautiful legacy.

No longer a mystery to me, the H. R. Wyllie platter is important to the history of Ohio River Pottery.  The manufacture of pottery along the river depended on rich sources of clay, supplies of natural gas and a river to transport the wares far beyond the borders. Geography isa  powerful predictor of sustainable production, after all. But, digging deeper into the story of the goods produced, there is yet another story about the men and women who established potteries and worked in the potteries over generations.

The well-loved platter with only remnants of the gold trim is one hundred years old – a century – and a history tied to Mr. Wyllie. I just love his bow tie!

H. R. Wyllie

H. R. Wyllie

 

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