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American Rockingham Ware
IF YOU ARE looking for an "antique" interest within your budget start with a Rockingham "Rebekah at the Well" teapot or an old brown bean pot of Rockingham ware. Display the stuff in your kitchen and use it everyday, but when you advance to a marked Bennington pitcher or a Toby jug, put it in a glass case under lock and key. This one-time utility kitchenware is fast coming to the attention of collectors.
American Rockingham ware is a soft cream or yellow ware which is dipped or spattered with a brown glaze before firing. The best-known Rockingham was made at Bennington, Vermont, but it was also made by almost every pottery in the eastern part of the United States and in Ohio. The majority of the Rockingham pieces were made between 1835 and i qoo, but Spargo lists potters making Rockingham in America as early as 1812, and a piece in the New York Historical Society is dated 1810. Rockingham was a cheap and durable everyday ware, probably made in imitation of «'hieldon's tortoise-shell glazes, although the direct influence was the English Rockingham made by Brameld and other English potteries.
More Rockingham has been attributed to Bennington than to any other pottery. In fact, Rockingham is often wrongly called Bennington ware. However, the largest assortment of pieces, and indeed almost every article made in Rockingham was made by Norton & Fenton or United States Pottery Company in Bennington, Vermont. Among the most important pieces are the Toby jugs. No less than three of these were made at Bennington and were probably modeled by Daniel Greatbach, the wellknown English potter. These were the Franklin Toby, the Duke of Wellington Toby, and the quaint so-called Snuff Toby.
The most sought-after and most popular article of old Rockingham ware is the hound-handled pitcher. Hunting jugs with hound handles were made by 18th-century English potters, but the hound-handled jug is sup posed to have been introduced into America by Daniel Greatbach, the master potter of Staffordshire who came to work for Henderson at Jersey City in 1839- In about 1843 Greatbach designed his hound-handled pitcher there. The pitcher, like most other hound-handled pitchers, has a stag hunt on one side and a boar hunt on the other. A grapevine design decorates the neck and shoulder of the jug. Sometimes a feather border outlines the lip of the pitcher and sometimes a small scalloped border or other variations outline the lip. The hound handle is grotesque and undoglike. Its head rests upon the rim of the pitcher and the feet are hardly discernible in silhouette. This is the type of handle that was copied by most of the other potteries. When marked this pitcher has an impressed "D & J Henderson" in a circle. Another type of hound-handled pitcher was also made at Jersey City. It has a mask on the front under the spout, a hunting scene, and an American eagle pulling the tail of the British lion. The glaze is pale in tint, less mottled, and has less depth than the best Jersey Citv Rockingham.
Of course, the hound-handled hunting pitcher of greatest interest to collectors is the one made by Daniel Greatbach for the LT.S. Pottery Company of Bennington. It is never marked but is easily identified by the chain collar on the dog's neck, the space between the paws and the head of the dog, and the duck's-bill shape of the dog's head. The pitcher was made in three sizes. Its glaze is dark and lustrous. There are several other variations of the hound-handled hunting pitcher that are of special interest to collectors because they are identified with certain potteries and can thus be dated and placed as to locality.
A hound-handled pitcher with similar scenes and a handle similar to the Jersey City pitcher designed by Greatbach but with plain shoulders and a lambrequin border at the top of the shoulders was made at the Salamander Works, Woodbridge, New Jersey, between 1842 and i850. This is one of the best-designed Rockingham hound-handled pitchers. When marked it bears the scratched mark "Salamander Works / Woodbridge / N. J.
A hound-handled pitcher with stag hunt and boar hunt, grape design on the neck, and a hound handle similar to the Jersey City handle is in the collection of the New York Historical Society and marked "J. B. Caire & Co / Po'keepsie / N.Y."
One of the best hound-handled hunting-scene pitchers was made by Harker and Taylor of East Liverpool, Ohio, between 1847 and 1851. The head of the hound is lifted up from the paws, leaving a space similar to the Bennington handle, but while the Bennington head rests on the paws this hound head is free. When marked this pitcher has an impressed "Harker, Taylor & Co." Harker & Taylor exhibited Rockingham ware at the Franklin Institute Fair in Philadelphia in 1846.
In 1852 James Taylor & Henry Speeler from East Liverpool, Ohio, were in business in Trenton, New Jersey, and in 1846 Taylor, Speeler & Bloor, Trenton, New Jersey, exhibited Rockingham ware at the Franklin Institute Fair. They also made a hound-handled pitcher. A. Cadmus of South Amboy made a hound-handled pitcher with a relief of a volunteer fire company. It has a grape design on the neck and the hound's head rests on the rim of the pitcher in the manner of the handles of the Greatbach design at Jersey City. A hunting pitcher with an oak border and rustic handle and a frog in the bottom was also made by Cadmus at Congress Hill Pottery, New Jersey.
A pitcher with a raised boar hunt on one side and a stag hunt on the other was made by Bell at Strasburg, Virginia, and is incised "Bell" on the bottom.
A hound-handled pitcher with game was made at the pottery of Bennett & Brothers at Baltimore, Maryland. It was modeled by Charles Coxon, who also modeled a stag hunt and boar pitcher with a rustic handle. Hound-handled pitchers were made at many other factories, but most of them were of inferior workmanship and while the design was usually a modification of the Greatbach pitchers they fall short of those made at Jersey City or Bennington. As late as 1902-1903 the Vance Pottery Company of Peoria, Illinois, made a hound-handled pitcher in the old Greatbach molds. These pitchers are marked and were not put on the market as forgeries.
Another pitcher of special interest to collectors is the Apostle Pitcher, which was made by Daniel Greatbach for the American Pottery Company at Jersey City. It has embossed figures of the Apostles set within Gothic window frames. An Apostle cuspidor was made at Congress Hill Pottery.
An eight-sided pitcher with a Druid's head beneath the lip was made by liennett & Brothers and exhibited in the 1846 Franklin Institute Fair and is still on view at the Institute in Philadelphia. The Heron or Stork pitcher and the Dolphin and Fish pitcher, as well as the Daniel Boone pitcher, were also made by Bennett & Brothers and modeled by Charles Coxon. The figures are in relief and the ware at its best is as good as any made in America. There were four types of pitchers made by the Salamander Works, Woodbridge, New Jersey. Besides the hound-handled pitcher already described, this pottery made a pitcher with a relief decoration of scrolls, fauns' heads, and grapes. Some of these pitchers are marked with an impressed oval stamp holding the maker's name.
A pitcher with an ivy-leaf border and an embossed sidewheel steamer on its body was also made at Salamander Works, as was a pitcher with a similar border and the engine of a volunteer fire company.
A large Rockingham pitcher with an embossed allover floral pattern was made by W.H.P. Benton of Perth Amboy, N.J., in about 1858. They also made a pitcher with an American eagle and shield with thunderbolts and flames in relief and one with putti & grapevine. In about 1850 the Congress Hill Pottery of A. Cadmus at South Amboy made a mug-shaped pitcher with a relief decoration of grapes and leaves and a rustic handle. It is marked "A. Cadmus Congress Pottery, South Amboy, N. J." The pitcher with an anchor and rope was also made at Jersey City. It has a beaded border around the rim. Several pitchers of much later shapes have hunting scenes, and these continued to be made until late in the century. Indeed, the shape is usually an indication of when the design was made. Many of the early hunting pitchers had the name of the owner in white block letters on the shoulder.
Two exceptionally fine pitchers of hexagonal form were made at the American Pottery Co. in Jersey City. One has an allover floral design, the other a more formal floral pattern divided into panels. These are attributed to Daniel Greatbach.
A six-paneled pitcher with relief decoration of flowers was made at Bennington, and a fluted pitcher with a spout decoration of beautifully molded scrolls is also worth special attention.
Of special interest to collectors of Rockingham is the "Rebekah at the Well" teapot, because of its price and availability. This teapot was made in several sizes and by many factories. It was originally modeled by Charles Coxon for Bennett & Brothers, Baltimore, Maryland, and was copied from a design of a porcelain jug made by Alcock in England. It was so popular that a variation of Coxon's design was made by many factories up to 1893. The teapot shows a relief design of Rebekah with a water at beside a well and the raised words "Rebekah at the Well." A similar teapot at the New York Historical Society is marked "-Ohio." Rebekah at the Well teapots have also been found marked "J. Mayer, Trenton."
Many tea and coffeepots were also made in octagonal shapes. The Philadelphia Museum of Art owns a Rockingham coffeepot with eight panels containing eagles in relief. It was made by W. H. P. Benton of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
The cow creamer was made of Rockingham ware in both America and England from 1845 to 1885, but was originated much earlier, probably by Whieldon. While it was made at many potteries including Jersey City, South Amboy, Trenton, and Baltimore, the one made at Bennington is the most sought after. The Bennington cow is plump; the ribs show but are not ridged to the touch. The eyes are clear and the nostrils are marked with crescent indications. Cow creamers are not marked.
Bennington also made figures of a stag with tree stump, of a recumbent stag and doe, of a poodle dog with a basket, and of a lion with his paw on a ball. A sitting figure of a dog on a pedestal was made in East Liverpool, Ohio. The base has a repeat border of anthemion. A dog doorstop was also made by W. A. H. Schrieber & J. F. Betz at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, in 1867, and Charles Coxon modeled a figure of a pointer dog which was made by Bennett & Brothers in the 1850s. A Rockingham ware figure of a bull calf was made at Congress Hill Pottery. Various-sized cracker jars with covers were made in octagonal and fluted designs. Inkstands, picture frames, candlesticks, mugs, and vases are also among the interesting articles made at Bennington and at various other factories where Rockingham was made. A shaving mug with a fat man or Toby in relief was made by Bennett & Brothers in about 1853 and also at Brookville Potting Company near Pottsville, Pennsylvania; and the Tam o'shanter mug was made between 1840 and 1850 by Abraham Miller of Philadelphia, a potter whose works date back to 1816. Many plain and undecorated Rockingham mugs were made also. Such mugs were made at East Liverpool and Swan Hill Pottery, South Amboy, New Jersey, and sold through the Norwalk Pottery, Norwalk, Connecticut. Their list of Roclcingham included "pressed teapots, fancv jugs, spittoons, soaps, Tobeys, plain jugs and mugs." Sugar bowls, creamers, and bowls and goblets for table use were also made in Rockingham at the various potteries. The goblets are rare.
Flasks in the shape of a book and bottles were made at Bennington, at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and at Ohio potteries in East Liverpool and by Joseph Pyatt at Zanesville. A flask with an eagle in relief was made in Ohio. The famous "Coachman"- and "Monk"-figure bottles were made at Bennington between 1849 and 1858. They are often marked "Lyman Fenton & Co., Bennington, Vt." Banks, shoes, flasks, and bottles in shapes such as mermaids and a man on a barrel were among the many miscellaneous articles made.
Among the common household articles made in Rockingham were baking dishes, pudding and jelly molds, pie plates, soap dishes, bedpans, flasks, foot warmers, cuspidors, doorknobs, and tiebacks for curtains. These articles are not to be considered in the same category as the pitchers, figures, and Toby jugs, but nevertheless they are worth collecting, and one often finds such articles with a fine glaze and depth of coloring. Although the Rockingham ware from Bennington is considered the finest, good ware was also made at other potteries. Even that at Bennington varies with the workman, since Rockingham was hand dipped or spattered. A light tone indicates a thinner glaze. Some wares were fired once, and others had two firings. The two-fire process produced more brilliance and depth of color. This variation is noted even in Bennington ware. The earlier Norton & Fenton Rockingham shows no extra gloss on the bottom, while the later U.S. Pottery Roclcingham, which had two firings, has more gloss and depth. However, no two pieces are ever the same color because of difference in body and firing as well as the individual dipping process. The best Rockingham, generally speaking, was made at Bennington by Norton & Fenton and U.S. Pottery, at Baltimore, and at East Liverpool and Zanesville, Ohio. However, each individual piece should be judged for its brilliance of glaze, fineness of body texture, and good modeling. The best pieces have good potting and workmanship and there are no defects or "crazings." Judging an article by such standards enables one to choose the best whether the piece is marked or not. Since the marked pieces are rare it is well to keep these facts in mind.