The Crystal Palace exhibition in New York in 1853-4 of the United States Pottery Company of Bennington, VT showed their "Flint Enamel Ware" Elliott Insulators

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Art and Industry as Represented in the Exhibition at the Crystal Palace

New York, NY, United States
p. 120-123, col. 1



In the United States Department is an exhibition of a similar manufacture, which is well worthy of observation by all those who take delight in the progress of American art and skill. This is in the space allotted to the United States Pottery Company of Bennington, Vermont, who display Porcelain, Parian, Lava and Enamel Flint Wares. The articles are not only manufactured in this country, but the materials from which they are made are of this continent exclusively. Indeed we have not only no lack of good delf and porcelain material, but a surplus of mineral matters of a character very superior to the European minerals, and which have now become an article of export trade to England. Such is our feldspar, which is very abundant in the northern New England States, from which the decomposition, of which the kaolin or fine clay, which enters into the composition of China wares, is derived. The European kaolin contains a small trace of iron derived from the mica which the original feldspar always possesses. This metal, when not separated from the powdered mineral, communicates a light tint or cream-color to the ware. For white wares, the iron has therefore to be removed by chemical washings, which increases the cost of the articles. The feldspar from New Hampshire is remarkably free from mixture with iron, and is therefore well adapted for the manufacture of a white body without any purification. The neighborhood of Bennington, Vermont, is one well adapted for the establishment of a pottery manufacture, as there is a considerable deposit of plastic clay, which is met with in large quantities, and of great purity, in at least a dozen other places in Vermont. Indeed, there is no State in the Union better adapted for manufacturing porcelain and other earthen wares, containing, as has been stated, all the mineral elements, and also ores of iron and manganese. These, however, in themselves, constitute but a portion of the success of any branch of manufacture, and it is to the untiring industry and skill of Mr. C. W. Fenton that this country is indebted for the establishment of this art at Bennington. He has labored over thirty years to advance the manufacture, and with great pecuniary expenditure has advanced it to the condition in which it is exhibited in this collection from Bennington. At the sacrifice of time and health, he has also succeeded in introducing the manufacture of Parian Ware in this country; produced the Flint Enamel Ware, for which he has secured a patent; and is engaged in the extension of porcelain manufacture, which has been followed by other establishments in this country, but by no means to the same satisfactory development as by him. The United States Pottery Company are now erecting, a very large manufactory at Bennington, which, when completed, will furnish porcelain or Parian wares equal to French or English, at a more moderate price, owing to the cheaper cost of the materials, the facilities possessed to prepare them, and the superior construction of the kilns, in which an economy of fuel, with a more steady and clearer heat, is obtained. To the artist and superintendent of the premises, Mr. D. W. Clark, the Company owe much of their success in the beauty and execution of the designs and articles.

The articles exhibited by this Company are of porcelain and Parian ware, lava and enamel flint wares. Among the articles the most prominent is a tile floor, which underlies the whole of the articles, embracing a space of seven square feet. The tiles are inlaid with variegated colors, the borders displaying the American flag. Upon the centre of the floor stands a monument ten feet in height. The first or lowest section represents the "lava ware" or variegated stone; the second section their "flint ware;" the third, open columns inclosing a bust of Fenton, the designer of the articles on exhibition; the fourth section crowns the monument, and is a Parian female figure presenting the bible to a child on a monument by her side.

Around this monument are displayed table and scale standards, Corinthian capitals, figures, vases, urns, toilet-sets, and a great variety of other specimens in porcelain, plain and inlaid. The pitchers in porcelain are deserving of notice, as a branch of national industry; though not decorated beyond a gilt molding, and, therefore, not attractive as china, yet they possess the first elements of good ware — that is, an uniform body without any waving, and of well-mixed and fine materials. It is upon such ware only that ornaments or decoration can succeed, and Mr. Fenton has overcome the great obstacle in the producing of ornamental china, namely — the formation of a ware having the essential properties of good porcelain — density, whiteness, and transparency.

The superiority of the Flint Enamel Ware over the English consists in the addition of silica combined with kaolin, or clay from Vermont, which, when in properly adjusted proportions, produces an article possessing great strength, and is perfectly fire-proof. Telegraph insulators in white flint are on exhibition; this material being one of the best electric nonconductors that can be found. Various forms of insulators are in the collection. This ware has been employed on the telegraphs in the vicinity of Boston; among these specimens is a patented form, recommended by Mr. Batchelder, which has a shoulder with a re-entering angle of forty-five degrees; this angle causes the wind and rain to pass downward, and prevents the inside of the insulator from being wet. This enamel ware comprises a variety of assorted articles, candlesticks, pitchers, spittoons, picture-frames, tea-pots, &c. This ware has become a favorite article in New-England, and possesses much merit as cottage furniture. The lava ware is a combination of clays from Vermont, New-Jersey, Carolina, &c.; composed of silica and feldspar, intermixed with the oxydes of iron, manganese and cobalt. It is the strongest ware made from pottery materials; the glaze upon this lava-ware and upon the flint-ware, is chiefly of flint and feldspar, and has, therefore, to be subjected to such an intense heat to fuse it, as would destroy the glaze upon common crockery. The colors upon the flint-ware are produced by different metallic oxydes applied on the glaze, which latter serves as a medium to float them about upon the surface, while in a state of fusion, thus producing the variegated tints.

The Parian ware of this Company is remarkably fine, especially in the form of pitchers. They are light in material, of graceful outline, and of two tints— one fawn-colored, from the presence of a little oxyde of iron, and the other white, from its absence. To us, the former appears the more pleasing to the eye. These are made of the flint from Vermont and Massachusetts, the feldspar from New Hampshire, and the china clays from Vermont and South Carolina. This Company has the credit of first producing Parian ware on this continent. China has been heretofore made in Philadelphia, and also at Green Point, L. I., but the manufacture is now only carried on in the latter locality. The United States Pottery Company are at present enlarging their works at Bennington, owing to the increased consumption of their wares, where they are fitting up a main building, 160 feet in length, and giving employment to one hundred operatives, using water-power for grinding the materials, and six kilns, of an improved construction, for the firing of the wares. With the increased facility' of manufacturing which this extension affords, this market will be supplied with China wares of a superior kind manufactured at home, and which will no doubt remunerate the Company for the outlay incurred, and add another to the new manufactures established among us.




Keywords:Bennington Pottery : United States Pottery Company : Elliott : U-979 : U-980 : U-981
Researcher notes:The C. W. Fenton patent granted on September 22, 1837 was originally a composition for fire brick. Apparently, this composition proved useful as described above to produce "Flint Enamel Ware" and was used to produce the Elliott insulators: U-979, U-980, U-981. The second Fenton patent covered the transparent glaze. Note that Batchelder used this glaze to coat the inside of his insulator. The article in the book was part of the exhibition descriptions in the New York Tribune revised and edited by Horace Greeley.
Supplemental information: Patents: 393; 6,907; 8,418
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:October 1, 2008 by: Elton Gish;