Rockingham and Bennington

from the Treasury of American Design




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American Rockingham, the ware for which Bennington, Vermont, became famous in the mid-nineteenth century, is English in origin and is named for the Marquis of Rockingham, whose works at Swinton produced a ware of similar brownish color. The pottery itself is cream-colored or yellow ware that is dipped or spattered with a brown glaze before firing, achieving an overall mottled-brown effect.

Captain John Norton, whose pottery works were founded in 1793 and closed in 1894, was the pioneer of Bennington pottery. The Norton Company and Christopher Webber Fenton's United States Pottery (which lasted from 1847 until 1858) are responsible for a prolific output of not only the Rockingham type but also Parian ware, flint enamel, graniteware, and yellowware, as well as porcelain and china. While household articles of Rockingham ware were produced, much more valuable were ornamental pitchers, Toby mugs, and statuary pieces.

The great variety of items manufactured at the United States Pottery Company were featured in a special exhibit at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851 and later at New York's Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1853. The display of Rockingham ware included pitchers, bowls, toilet sets, urns vases, cuspidors, pedestals for flowerpots and statuary, columns, figures, lions, cows, and Toby mugs.

This brown-flecked and mottled ware, produced by more than sixty American pottery manufacturers until 1900, was a distinctive, highly popular addition to American ceramics.


          
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Created by Ellen Harris for the Treasury of American Design Web Exhibition
American Studies Master's Program, University of Virginia
Fall 2001