Potteries of Trenton Society

The World Dines Out:
100 Years at Trenton's Lamberton Works

The Dish On Trenton
China Exhibit Comes To Ellarlsie

There was a time, not that long ago, when a traveler could cross America by rail, stay in the finest hotels, and never once eat off a dish that wasn't made in Trenton, NJ.


Don't believe it? Starting this August, Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum, is celebrating one of Trenton's most elegant legacies with an unprecedented display of commercial and fine china made at the city's Lamberton Works. Many dozens of vividly decorated service plates from restaurants, clubs, railroads and hotels will be on display, along with cups, saucers and other table accoutrements spanning more than a century in the history of Trenton's service to America. The exhibition, titled The World Dines Out: 100 Years at Trenton's Lamberton Works, opens August 4 and runs to Summer 2008.

Lamberton Works

The Lamberton Works exhibit also heralds the Museum's recent acquisition of the Larry Paul Collection, a 950 piece cross-section of Lamberton products gathered and documented by Mr. Paul, a native of Maryland and a recognized authority and author on the topics of restaurant china and the Lamberton companies. This collection was first offered to the Trenton Museum Society last summer and we immediately recognized its home was meant to be in Trenton, right where it was created.

The Lamberton Works first opened in 1869 by three local Quaker businessmen. The pottery was located along Third Street between Landing St. and Lalor St., in the Lamberton section of Trenton. In 1888, Thomas Maddock purchased the pottery, renamed it the Lamberton Works, to continue production while his main plant (a portion of which is now the Rescue Mission building at Perry and Carroll Sts.) was rebuilt after a devastating fire. Then, in 1923, one-time Maddock office boy D. William Scammell purchased, along with his five brothers, the plant and the ongoing china business from the Maddocks, which the Scammells ran successfully until D. William passed on in 1952. Largely abandoned after the Scammell China Company. closed in 1954, what remained of the old factory was burnt down by vandals in 1972. The Lamberton name lived on well into the 1990s through a line of china manufactured by the Sterling China Company of Wellsville, Ohio which purchased the equipment and ongoing contracts of the Lamberton Works in 1954.


While owned by the Maddocks, the Lamberton Works output of domestic and commercial china was top-quality, though still a secondary pursuit to that firm's primary interests in sanitary wares. Under the Scammells, the client list and variety of wares and decorations grew rapidly. Prominent hotel & restaurant customers included the Waldorf-Astoria, United Hotels Corp, William Penn Hotel, Chalfonte Hotel, Miami Hotel, La Salle, President, Wanamakers, Strawbridge & Clothier, Macy's, Gimbels, Bullocks, Bickfords, Fosters, Davenports, Horn & Hardart, and many, many more. Railroad customers included the Pennsylvania, the New Jersey Central, the Union Pacific, the New York Central, the Southern Pacific, and the Baltimore & Ohio. Known ship line users were Holland-America, the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat Co., Norwich Line, Panama Pacific Steamship, United States Lines and others. You could, indeed, travel America - and much of the world - and never eat off any but a dish made in Trenton.


Scammell also made special occasion pieces such as commemorative and college alumni lamp bases, Art Deco accent pieces, and many beautiful fine china dinnerware lines. Scammell's decoration styles included hand painting, solid glaze, decal and transfer prints, lines and bands, acid etched gold, overall luster and occasional embossed customer logos. Lamberton Works pieces from both the Maddock and Scammell eras are much sought after by many collectors today.

Trenton City Museum

The Trenton City Museum is located in Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Entrance, Trenton, New Jersey 08618. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Museum is closed Monday and on municipal holidays. For more information, please call (609) 989-3632 or visit www.Ellarslie.org.

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion is owned by the City of Trenton, Douglas H. Palmer, Mayor, maintained and operated by the Department of Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture, Division of Culture. This program is made possible in part by the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission through funding from the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment of the Arts, with additional support from the Trenton Museum Society.