Trenton Makes Pottery: The Stoneware of James Rhodes

Photo: PhillyBurbs

Many avid art pottery collectors might remember the exciting find in 2000 when builders excavated part of Trenton New Jersey only to find thousands of broken pieces of James Rhodes stoneware. There were remains of gray salt glazed stoneware, including teapots, plates, bowls, cups and much more. Since then, it’s been researched and examined and the findings are nothing short of remarkable. 13,000 sherds and pieces of kiln furniture (items used to help in stacking pots in the kiln during firing) were retrieved from this particular site, where the kiln is still intact, buried beneath the tunnel roadway.

Rhodes was known for the cobalt blue glazes on his art pottery and the familiar signings that included molded faces on the bottoms of his pieces.

Several years later, another discovery was made about a mile away from the original site and it’s since been linked to Rhodes. This only further cemented Trenton’s rich history and reaffirms it was indeed one of the two epicenters of the early American art pottery movement. The first, of course, was -and remains – in Ohio.

The Potteries of Trenton Society has documented more than fifty art pottery makers and manufacturers that dotted the area by the turn of the century and for many years, there were millions of tiles, art pottery, everyday dishes and even fine china that were shipped out of the area for destinations around the country and around the world.

Now, the city of Trenton is preparing for an exciting new show that will last for months.

Beginning September 14th 2012 and running through January 13 2013, the Potteries of Trenton Society will display not only those thousands of pieces unearthed in 2000, but will also showcase more than 50 of the manufacturers that called Trenton home. The “Trenton Makes Pottery: The Stoneware of James Rhodes, 1774-1784” has much in store for area residents and visitors. The stoneware pottery of James Rhodes, one of the few known American stoneware potters of the colonial period, is the star of the exhibit that’s being curated by Richard Hunter, Rebecca White, and Nancy Hunter. Rhodes had a successful pottery-making business on a property adjoining the Eagle Tavern site, where his first boss was creating stoneware. It was all combined later s part of the tavern property.

Visitors can enjoy lecturers and speeches by some of the most well respected archaeological consultants in the nation. In fact, on September 30, Richard Hunter will be the first of those consultants who will address fans of American art pottery.

It truly is a once in a lifetime event and if you’re planning a vacation, this is certainly worth consideration.