Printer-friendly versionSend to friend ""

Importers & Retailers

A Gazetteer of Importers & Retailers in America known to have sold dark blue printed pottery with American themes. 

Boggs, Thompson, & Co.
An auction broadside from March, 1821 lists Boggs, Thompson & Co. as selling twenty-four dozen "printed jugs city hall" and fifteen dozen "teas, bird and city hall" among their many printed and plain wares.[i] "The Old Merchants of New York" lists this firm as doing business under this name from ca. 1815 to 1830, when it became Boggs, Sampson & Thompson.[ii] Boggs was a Nova Scotia-born Philadelphia merchant who married the daughter of John Broome, Lieutenant Governor of New York and a wealthy businessman. Going into business with his brother-in-law Livingston as general merchants lasted less than a year, after which he formed another partnership to open an auction business at No. 153 Pearl Street in New York, one of thirty-six recognized by the city. That same year Boggs became president of the New York Manufacturing Company Bank, an investment concern related to his family's business that later became the Phenix bank.[iii] This company was a jobbing concern similar to George Coates of Philadelphia, selling goods at auction. His sales were precisely the type of transactions that Boston's Earthenware Dealer's Association wished to block, as they often undercut the Staffordshire price lists. 

George Coates
George Morrison Coates was a Quaker merchant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Born into a mercantile family, the son of Josiah Coates, he attended Friends Grammar School in Philadelphia and then learned the hardware business in a store owned by Benjamin Horner.  He married Horner's daughter and later joined his brother-in-law, Joseph P. Horner, selling hardware.  By 1824, he was working as a jobber in the pottery business buying most of his wares at auctions in Philadelphia, and New York City.   Winterthur Museum & Library holds a ledger relating to his business dating to 1824 to 1835, with references to ceramics and glassware purchases from 1824 to 1831, after which time the entries relate to seed sales or payment of past accounts.  In the ceramic records there are notes of Staffordshire potters’ names, pottery patterns, and colors including references to light and dark blue printed wares.[iv]    

Horace Collamore
In 1811 Horace Collamore left his teaching job in Pembroke Massachusetts and joined his brother Gilman, a partner in the business of Hastings & Collamore who regularly advertised “Crockery, Glass & China” sales in Boston newspapers from 1810.[v]  Horace Collamore did not stay long in his brother’s employ and was in business for himself as a china dealer in Boston by 1812.[vi]  He took various partners for short times, including Gilman Collamore and William Churchill. Gilman died in 1824 and about the same time it is said that he, Horace, left the business to be run by William Churchill and John Collamore Jr. – retiring because of ill-health.[vii] Horace Collamore’s Order-Letter book between the dates of 1814-1818 has survived and contains the earliest reference to dark blue printed pottery with American scenes, when on August 18, 1818 he ordered blue printed dining ware “new dark pattern … State House or other good pattern”.[viii]

Field & Clark
Field & Clark were in business in Utica, New York.   Thomas F. Field is reported to have opened his store in September 1822 and it was in operation for about 10 years. Clark had joined the business by 1824 when the company was nationally acclaimed for its entrepreneurship in celebrating the newly completed Erie Canal.  Staffordshire pottery with designs commissioned by them is noted nationally in newspapers in 1824 and 1825.   Click here for more

Harris & Chauncey
Harris and Chauncey were in business at various addresses in New York City.  They were in business in 1825 when they were listed in a New York Directory at 108 Water street.  By 1827 they were located at  70 Wall Street, New York., and it is this address that appears with their name as a printed mark on the back of blue printed designs depicting La Fayette at Washington’s Tomb.

Henshaw and Jarves
Joseph Henshaw and Deming Jarves formed a short-lived partnership importing and selling "crockeryware" in Boston from 1816 to 1818. Henshaw had been in business for himself as an importer as early as 1813 at his 20 Broad Street Shop before he partnered with Deming Jarves. Jarves had his own business as a dry goods importer that same year at 11 Cornhill Street. In 1816 Henshaw and Jarves set up in Henshaw's shop[ix]. A large lustreware Wood & Caldwell jug from this period notes them as importers of crockery and china from that Staffordshire firm to Boston.  Within a year Jarves was already pursuing other opportunities as a "glass factor" for the newly formed Boston Porcelain and Glass Company. By 1818 Henshaw and Jarves were auctioning off "all stock in trade, including blue, olive, red and black printed Teas, Bowls, Fruit Baskets, Plates, Dishes, Ewers, and Basons, Tureens Jugs, Chambers &c State-House and other patterns."[x] After they went their separate ways Jarves pursued glass manufacturing full time, helping to form the successful Boston & Sandwich Glass Company while Henshaw remained at 20 Broad Street.[xi]  Both Henshaw and Jarves were members of the Boston Earthenware Dealers Association, a tight group of importers and retailers who controlled the prices for wares throughout Boston from 1817 to 1835.[xii] Members who attended the sale of Henshaw and Jarves' wares in 1818 were expelled from the association.

Mitchell & Freeman
Nathan Mitchell Jr. and Watson Freeman announced the commencement of their partnership in May 1823 when they bought the entire stock of Winslow, Hooper & Company, setting up shop at "the old stand, No.s 1 & 2 Parkman's Buildings, Bray's Wharf" in Boston.  They suffered an enormous loss in 1825, when a fire consumed many of the businesses on Broad, Central and Kirby streets. By 1832 they announced the auction of their business.     Click here for more

Peter Morton
Peter Morton was a dealer at 68 Front Street, Hartford, Connecticut,  and his backstamp is known on “New York, Castle Garden” views.[xiii]In 1823 Peter Morton took over the shop and stock of a well-known Hartford importer and retailer, William Imlay, selling china, glass and earthenware on Main Street just across from the State House. By 1827 he had moved his warehouse to the corner of State and Front streets, where he acted as agent for the New England Glass Company as well as selling groceries, lime, cement, and other items in addition to crates of china and earthenware. Morton remained in business as a direct importer for Enoch Wood & Sons and possibly other potters from 1823 to 1832, when he sold his stock to Bergh and Boughton in April. Morton left Hartford for New York City to focus on his role as an agent for the New England Glass Company.

Otis Norcross
Established in 1810 in Boston, Otis Norcross founded  “a crockery house” that was perhaps the most successful and long-lasting of any 19th century specialist ceramic importers and retailers.  His first store was in Fish street, but in 1816 he lists his warehouse at 15 Exchange Street. By 1826 he moved to South Market Street, where he was joined by his 15 year old son, also Otis Norcross. When the elder Norcross died the following year, his son helped his mother manage the business until, at the age of 21, Otis Jr. joined the firm as partner. Under his leadership the firm expanded into a major concern.  Norcross was a key player in the Boston Earthenware Dealers Association. His firm ran advertisements in 1821 and 1822 in local papers noting "a superior assortment of Earthen Ware....comprising blue-printed Zebra, Elephant and State House patterns of Plates Twifflers and Muffins...and complete dining services" as well as "Ewers and Basons, Chambers, Pitchers &c of the Verdant and State House patterns."[xiv] Norcross maintained correspondence and business dealings with John Rogers, the primary producer of Boston State House views, specifically requesting items marked with his stamp.[xv] Norcross was elected mayor of Boston in 1866 and in the same year he retired leaving his prosperous company which continued under various names, well into the twentieth century. 

 Matthew Smith
Was a “China & Glass” retailer in Baltimore.  He began business in 1806 and retired in 1832.  His letter books survive and include comments on patterns, products and the relative merits of specific Staffordshire products, including dark blue transfer printed pottery. Through his business dealings we get a unique insight into trade between the Staffordshire potters and American customers, as he deals with the War of 1812, the challenges of international commerce, the vagaries of fashion, and the fickleness of the consumer.[xvi]

Tams (various partnerships)
Collectors have puzzled for years over the name “Tams” which appears in impressed and printed marks on blue printed tableware.  Designs include both British and American views including some dark blue printed patterns of the 1820s.  The Tams in question is the family name of a several brothers involved in the importation and retail of ceramics in New York and Philadelphia from about 1817 to about 1850.  Click here for more

[i]  “Catalog of Earthen Ware to be sold at auction by Boggs, Thompson & Co.” reproduced in “Queries and Opinions” Antiques  v. 26 (Nov, 1934), 196.  See George L. Miller, "George M. Coates, Pottery Merchant of Philadelphia, 1817-1831" Winterthur Portfolio v. 19 no. 1 (Spring 1984), 37-49 for a discussion of pottery merchants, auction houses and jobbers.
[ii] Walter Barrett. The Old Merchants of New York City, v. 4 (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1885), 215
[iii] Barbara Broome Semans and Letitia Broome Schwartz. John Broome and Rebecca Lloyd: Their Descendants and Related Families. (Xlibris Company, 2009), 89-93
[iv] Winterthur Library, Downs Collection, George Morrison Coates Account book  (1824-1835 )Fol. 175, 64x18
[v] Collamore Family Papers, Old Sturbridge Village Research Library;  Boston Patriot, September 5, 1810
[vi] New-England Palladium, December,15, 1812
[vii]  Hatch, Charles, and Adeline Collamer Young. 1915. Genealogy of the descendants of Anthony Collamer of Scituate, Massachusetts. Salem, Mass: Newcomb & Gauss. p.91
[viii] Neil Ewins. Supplying the Present Wants of Our Yankee Cousins…: Staffordshire Ceramics and the American Market 1775-1880. Journal of Ceramic History Volume 15. City Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent 1997. pp. 42-3 and Appendix 2.
[ix] Boston Directories for 1813, 1816, and 1818.
[x] Boston, “Columbian Centinel” Issue 3545 (March 23, 1818), 3
[xi] Joan E. Kaiser, The Glass Industry in South Boston (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2009), idem
[xii] See George L. Miller, “The Association of Earthen Ware Dealers of Boston” Wedgwood International Seminar v. 35 Wedgwood et. al—The Neverending Story (1990), 126-147 and papers of the Association of Earthen Ware Dealers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
[xiii] Everett James McKnight “Peter Morton—An Early American Merchant and Importer” The Connecticut Magazine v. 10, 350-358
[xiv] Advertisement in Boston Daily Advertiser v. 34 issue 21 (January 24, 1822), 3
[xv] Otis Norcross Diaries and Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; and Miller, “Association of Earthenware Dealers”, 130
[xvi] Roger Pomfret. A Staffordshire Warehouse in Baltimore: the Letter Books of Matthew Smith 1806-32’, Northern Ceramic Society Journal Vol.26. 2010. pp. 33-107.