Thursday, September 18, 2008

Help the Museum of Ceramics

Russel Wright, Eva Zeisel, and Fiesta are names that collectors of American modern and mid-century ceramics know well.  How many of those that cherish these items know where they came from? On the Ohio River is a small town called East Liverpool that was once the largest producer of ceramics in the world.  It also happens to be my hometown and it needs your help.  

Once a booming city at the dawn of the 20th century, the industry that brought it to life has nearly died off.  Economic problems have plagued the area for decades and of the 300 potteries that once operated in East Liverpool, only two survive: Hall China and Homer Laughlin (now located across the river in Chester, WV).  Until the mid-20th century, however, East Liverpool was known as the 'Pottery Capital of the Nation' and is renowned for the production of everything from Lotus Ware, manufactured by Knowles, Taylor, & Knowles in the 1890s and considered to be the finest porcelain ever produced in the U.S., to Fiesta, which has graced the tables of homes and restaurants alike since 1936.  Exclusive dinnerware collections were created and manufactured in East Liverpool for Trader Vic's in Los Angeles and the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC.  And yes, Eva Zeisel and Russel Wright both had wares produced in East Liverpool.

The Museum of Ceramics is trying to keep the history of East Liverpool alive, but is currently struggling with funding.  Please, help!  You can read more about the museum and make donations through their website.  

The Museum of Ceramics, built in 1909 as the East Liverpool post office

Interior view of the Museum of Ceramics

Russel Wright pitcher, American Modern collection

Fiesta vase, manufactured by Homer Laughlin

Hall China pitcher

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