Early America colonial ceramics were simple, functional redwares (earthenwares with a rich brown-red colour from the iron oxide in the clay). Initially they were decorated with slip glazed blotches of colour or simple words or names. From about 1760, sgrafitto decoration (scratching a design through a coloured glaze) was used in Pennsylvania.

From early in the 18th century, stoneware was produced – most of it thick, utilitarian pieces with simple decoration in cobalt blue or brown. Stoneware, rather than redware production was boosted late in the 18th century by a scare about lead poisoning from the glaze used on redware.

In 1738, Andre Duche discovered a thick vein of kaolin clay, needed to produce porcelain, running from Virginia through Georgia. Despite several earlier attempts, it was not until 1800 that sustained porcelain production commenced at the Philadelphia works owned by William Ellis Tucker. Its most famous products were fine, white pitchers with floral decoration.

Flint-enamel-glazed animal figures, and table- and utility wares, were produced at Bennington, Vermont from 1843. These Bennington wares are also known as Rockingham-ware because of their similarity to the mottled, brown-glazed wares produced at Rockingham in England. Although better known for its earthenwares, Bennington also made Parian wares (from 1853) and blue-and-white and gilded tableware (from 1853). Bennington, renamed The United States Pottery Factory, closed in 1858. 

A craze for majolica, set of in Britain by the Great Exhibition of 1851, spread to America and continued through the 1880s, by which time a lead-glazed version of the older tin-glazed ware was being produced all over the eastern seaboard.

Antique American ceramics available now

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