Columbus, Georgia; View on Historical Staffordshire

An Enoch Wood and Sons, Burslem, 1819 to 1846, Historical black transferware toddy plate

p4A ItemID D9889627
Enoch Wood and Sons, Burslem, 1819 to 1846, Historical black transferware toddy plate

p4A ItemID D9763893
A pair of rare Hall's cup plates depicting Columbus, Georgia scene, blue transfer depicting cabins and trees

p4A ItemID D9755045

View of Columbus, Georgia on Historical Staffordshire

The Magazine Antiques, November 1939, page 244, ‘New Studies in Old Staffordshire: Enoch Wood & Sons, Celtic China Series: Columbus, Georgia’ by Julia D. Sophronia Snow

‘This unmarked cup plate has recently been the subject of much speculation and controversy. The following should help to settle the dispute. A few years ago, a collector showed me a specimen that had been tentatively identified as Governor Wright’s mansion at Riceborough, Georgia. Not much of a mansion, but with this as a clue I set out to verify the same view, which I had previously seen on a 5-inch plate. Miss Ella Thornton of the Georgia State Library put me on the trail of Basil Hall’s Forty Etchings from Sketches Made with the Camera Lucida in North America in 1827-1828, (1) and the no less important letters that his wife wrote to her sister in Scotland while accompanying Hall on his tour. The letters were compiled and edited by Una Pope-Hennessy under the title The Aristocratic Journey (1931), The lady high-hatted everything and everybody in America. Even so, her scathingly candid descriptions are an indispensable complement to her husband’s sketches in enabling us to approximate the location of this subject. To all students of Staffordshire I recommend The Aristocratic Journey. It illuminates the crockery we collect as only contemporaneous writing can.

‘Finding that our crockery view did not tally with Hall’s Riceborough delineation, I consulted Mrs. Florence P. Marye of Atlanta, to whom I had been referred as an authority on old houses of Georgia. Her opinion was ‘Your sketch would indicate a distance of at least a hundred miles inland. The group of buildings shows four basic primitive Georgia types in use all over the state from earliest days through the 1860′s. The building to the left is a raised cottage; that to the right a combined story (store?) and dwelling; beyond it a log cabin – across the street one-story frame cabins. I can only imagine the original sketch was made because it was typical of simplest George, rather than for individual interest in any locality. I could place it in a hundred or more towns.’ This report eliminates the Riceborough theory, and that of the Governor’s domicile.

‘Because of similarity of background details – crude cabins in a wooded area – and the significant sign swinging from the tree (look sharp! It’s there), Mrs. Louis Derr suggests that the view may have been taken from Hall’s sketch, The Embryo Town of Columbus on the Chattahoochie. She points out that certain obvious additions to that original may have been the potter’s glorification of an otherwise primitive scene. But her most cogent argument rests on the sign. This figures conspicuously both in Basil’s (Hall’s) sketch of embryo Columbus and in his wife’s letter from the place (March 31, 1828). She states, ‘The town is a thick forest with the exception of temporary wooden buildings to shelter the bidders awaiting the sale of lots in July… The streets are staked out among the trees…Hotel signs swing among the trees…and we are very well accommodated at the principal one.’ This indicates that in the outpost community were more habitable quarters than those represented in this particular drawing. It might also suggest that Hall made more than one view of Columbus. At any rate, since his wife’s description tallies with the major details of this cup-plate scene, and the artist’s sketch conforms with the background features, and since the crockery version, in turn, typifies interior Georgia, we are probably safe in accepting Mrs. Derr’s Columbus theory. We may, however, reserve judgment as to whether the potter, Wood, used Hall’s published sketch of the town or another view.

(1) For examples of a Camera Lucida, see p4A item numbers C207603 and B183565.
For a copy of Captain Hall’s Forty Sketches, see p4A item number B133270.

Reference note, 05.09.

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