Monday, March 12, 2012

Queenswares in St Louis Before the War of 1812

Back in 2002, the Sangamo Archaeological Center published a small summary of newspaper ads from St. Louis that advertised pottery between 1810 and 1850. I’m currently working on a paper with a colleague about ceramic use during the  American occupation of Fort Massac (1794 to 1814), and was looking at some of the War of 1812-era advertisements.

This is the earliest ad I have found for British refined ceramics in the region. It dates to January of 1809. The firm of H. Austin & Company (actually located in the old French town Ste. Genevieve, south of St. Louis) announced the arrival of a shipment of groceries and dry goods from New York, which included a “General assortment of Queens Pencil’d and Enamel’d Ware.” The reference to ceramic products was placed at the bottom of an ad focused primarily on fabrics and clothing.

 “Queensware” was a term coined by Josiah Wedgwood to refer to his creamware product lines of the 1760s and 1770s, the term was eventually used generically by potters and merchants to refer to most inexpensive British earthenwares, including post-1780 pearlware and post-1830 whiteware.

Example of painted pearlware teacup and saucer, circa 1790-1810
 “Pencilled Queens [ware]” probably referred to transfer printed pearlware or creamware, while “enameled” wares would have consisted of painted pearlware or creamware. This was fancy, fashionable stuff – fresh from the potteries at Staffordshire. And it was shipped into town by the crate when the population of St. Louis was still fewer than 400. 

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