Willson, T. H. & Co. – Stoneware Pottery – Pennsylvania

Limoges porcelain floral-decorated shouldered vase, circa 1900

p4A ItemID F7992100
Herend Rothschild pattern porcelain covered tureen

p4A ItemID F7992096
Ridgway ironstone platter, floral, circa 1835, with IMPERIAL STONE CHINA

p4A ItemID F7992093
Very Rare One-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Cobalt Floral Decoration, Stamped "WILLSON'S & YOUNG / HARRISBURG PA", circa 1855, cylindrical jar with tooled shoulder, applied lug handles

p4A ItemID F7956257

T. H. Willson & Co. Pottery

The first stoneware manufactured in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, came from the T. H. Willson & Co. pottery opened in 1852 by the brothers Thomas and Daniel Willson. They marked their wares “T. H. WILLSON & CO/HARRISBURG, PA” from that year until 1855. During this period they sometimes also marked their output with a stylized version of the new State Capitol building located in Harrisburg. The pottery is known for the expectional brushed decoration of their wares. Slip trailing was also used, but did not come into prominence until a bit later.

Neither of the Willson brothers were potters and they relied on associates and employees for technical and operating expertise. One of these men, John Young, assumed a larger management role and circa 1855 the firm’s mark changed to “WILLSON’S & YOUNG”. Young and another man, Shem Thomas (a potter from Penn Yan, New York) purchased the firm in 1856 and adopted the mark “JOHN YOUNG & CO./HARRISBURG, PA”. Their work is often considered to be among the most brillant of all the Pennsylvania salt-glazed potters.

Young and Thomas sold the pottery back to the Willson brothers in 1858, who hired William Moyer to manage the firm. Under his direction the wares were marked “WM. MOYER/HARRISBURG PA.” or “MOYER, HARRISBURG”. Occasionally he also signed the bottom of his wares, a rare practice in the 19th century. The business was closed by 1860 and its works was incorporated into the new Cowden pottery manufactories.


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