Cities Series, American Historical Views on Staffordshire Pottery

American Historical Views on Staffordshire Pottery – Cities Series

From about 1830 to 1845 an unknown English potter produced a series of plates and platters decorated with views of American cities. The series comprises sixteen American views plus one each of Buenos Ayres [sic] and Quebec. Both of these foreign city examples include hollowware, as does the Louisville example, all the other city views are limited to platters and plates of various sizes. Examples from this series are found in both dark and medium blue, and all within a border of large roses in groups.

The American cities represented in this series are: District of Columbia (Georgetown – Washington), Indianapolis, Louisville, Baltimore, Detroit, Albany, Fishkill, Hobart (New Jersey), Chillicothe (Ohio, 2 views), Columbus, Sandusky (Ohio), Philadelphia (2 views) and Richmond.

No examples from this series have been found with a potter’s mark, although all bear the same blue wreath of leaves and flowers enclosing the name of the city view. Some examples with Ohio or Kentucky views carry the mark of various importers or retailers. Occasionally Clews and Davenport have been suggested as the source of this series, likely based on their use of the same or similar views on marked examples, a common occurrence in the pre-copyright age. Others have advanced Enoch Wood as the source based on the apparent fact that no other major potter was producing views in deep blue in the 1835 to 1846 period (when the Wood pottery closed.) However Wood typically marked his work and to date no Cities Series example has been reported with a Wood mark.

The views on examples in this series have been extensively researched and, in most cases, identified and dated. An example of this view analysis helping to date the earthenware is that of the Sandusky platter. That view depicts the city, settled in 1817, on Lake Erie’s Sandusky Bay. Research has identified several of the buildings, including the Episcopal Church, depicted in the scene, as well as a steamboat, Henry Clay, shown in the foreground. The church’s cornerstone was laid in 1835 and the steamboat was launched in 1838. The city’s major hotel, Colt’s Exchange, was in operation by 1842, but is not depicted in this view. Thus the view, and the platter, was produced after 1835 and before 1842 – likely between 1838 and 1842.

The entire Cities Series is popular with collectors, but the most highly sought-after examples are the views of what in the period were western cities, as any views of scenes west of the Alleghany Mountains are quite rare and carry special historical significance. Within the series those views on platters – Louisville, Detroit, Chillicothe, Columbus, Sandusky and Baltimore are highly prized.

Further information about this series and each of its examples may be found in American Historical Views on Staffordshire China by Ellouise Baker Larsen, 1950 (Revised edition), Doubleday & Co., New York.

Reference note by p4A editorial staff, December 2011.

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