Stoneware Symposium

Early Stoneware in New Jersey and New York: Origins of an American Industry. The Potteries of Trenton Society and The New Jersey Historical Society will collaborate in bringing key scholars and collectors of domestic stonewares together for the first time in many years. The day-long symposium will explore the genesis and early growth of the American stoneware industry in the Northeast—including New Jersey stoneware production in Cheesequake, the Kempel potters of Ringoes, the Richards stoneware pottery in Trenton, and stoneware potters in lower Manhattan.

Developed and produced by the Potteries of Trenton Society in collaboration with The New Jersey Historical Society. The Potteries of Trenton Society received a minigrant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

The day-long symposium on early stoneware will take place at The New Jersey Historical Society in Newark on Saturday, March 6, 2004 from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Four lecturers and a panel discussion group will explore the genesis and early growth of the American stoneware industry in the northeast and examine the way documents, objects, and archaeological investigations can be combined to establish and express the historical context. The Potteries of Trenton Society (POTS) and The New Jersey Historical Society (NJHS) are collaborating in bringing key scholars, curators, and collectors of this material together for the first time in many years.

The New Jersey/New York region was critical in the development of the stoneware industry in the United States during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Raw materials, skills, transportation and investment were combined from the early 1700s to transform an Anglo-Saxon tradition to an American enterprise (more historical background).

Preliminary Program

9:30-10:00 am Coffee and Continental Breakfast
10:00-10:15 am Welcome & Introductions:
Patricia Madrigal, President, POTS
Janet Rassweiler, Director for Programs and Collections, NJHS
10:15-10:45 am William Liebeknecht
New Jersey’s Role in 18th Century American Stoneware Production
10:45-11:00 am Break
11:00-11:45 am Richard Hunter
Stoneware on the Delaware in the 1770s: William Richards’ Pottery on the Lamberton Waterfront
11:45-12:30 pm Brenda Springsted
Stoneware Made in the 18th Century ‘Hinterlands’ of Ringoes
12:30-2:00 pm Break for Lunch
2:00-2:45 pm Meta Janowitz
Eighteenth-Century New York City-Made Stonewares
2:45-3:00 pm Break
3:00-4:00 pm Panel Discussion and Questions
4:00-5:00 pm Closing Reception

There will be plenty of time for audience questions and discussion throughout the day, including a reception following the presentations and panel.


William Liebknecht is a Principal Investigator at Hunter Research, Inc. located in downtown Trenton. He holds a BA in Anthropology from Beloit College, Wisconsin, and MA in Public History from Rutgers University; and has nineteen years’ experience in prehistoric and historic archaeology in the mid-Atlantic region where he has directed numerous archaeological investigations. In historical archaeology, he has worked primarily on pottery and glass manufacturing sites and has examined a number of New Jersey stoneware sites including the Morgan kiln (c. 1770-1795) and Warne & Letts pottery dump (c. 1803-1813) in Cheesequake, and wasters from William Richards’ pottery (c. 1765-1787) and James Rhodes’ manufactory (c. 1774-1784) in Trenton. He will discuss the New Jersey’s stoneware history through the lens of the firm’s excavations of the Morgan pottery site and Warne & Letts pottery dump in Cheesequake.

Brenda Springsted is a graduate of Brown University and New York University. Her thesis on the archaeology of the Kemple Pottery in Ringoes in the 1970s was the beginning of a lifelong interest in historic American ceramic production. She has also researched and located the 17th century Delft pottery in Burlington, New Jersey, founded by West Jersey Proprietor Daniel Coxe and operated by London potter John DeWilde.

Richard Hunter founder and president of Hunter Research, Inc., a Trenton-based historical consulting firm, is an archaeologist and historical geographer. He has a long-standing interest in mid-Atlantic pottery manufacture that centers on the redware and stoneware potteries of central New Jersey and the industrial potteries of Trenton. In 2000, Hunter Research staff discovered and excavated a stoneware kiln at the William Richards pottery in the course of archaeological investigations undertaken in conjunction with the reconstruction of N.J. Route 29 alongside the Delaware River in South Trenton.

Meta Fayden Janowitz, Ph.D. is an archaeologist specializing in the history of 17th through 19th century ceramics. She currently works for URS Corporation as a material specialist and is a consultant to both John Milner Associates and Howard University for the analysis of the stoneware wasters and kiln furniture recovered from the African Burial Ground, Manhattan, since the mid-1990s. The stonewares were the products of two inter-related German families (Crolius and Remmey) who dumped their failed vessels and kiln by-products at the site in the mid-18th century. These sherds are the only direct evidence we have for what the families were making in the early years of production.


Ulysses Grant Dietz, Panel Moderator, will lead a panel of curators and collectors exploring how public and private collecting can lead to new appreciation of the forces that nurtured this early industry. Dietz has been the curator of Decorative Arts at The Newark Museum since 1980. He has degrees from Yale University and the University of Delaware, where he was a Fellow in the Winterthur Program. The curator of over 80 exhibitions during his tenure, Dietz is particularly proud of his work on The Newark Museum’s 1885 Ballantine House, which was re-interpreted and restored in 1994. He has published numerous articles on decorative arts, as well as books on the Museum’s American art pottery, contemporary ceramics, and nineteenth-century furniture collections, and Newark’s once-vast jewelry industry. The museum holds a fine collection of New Jersey stoneware.

William C. Ketchum, Jr. an independent scholar and educator, who has written frequently on topics in American ceramic history. He is perhaps best known for Early Potters and Potteries of New York State (1970), which is considered a standard reference on the history of early New York ceramics.

Margaret K. Hofer is Curator of Decorative Arts at the New-York Historical Society, where she has worked since 1993. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, Margi has curated numerous exhibitions at the Historical Society, including “Wrought in Common Clay: New York Stoneware from the Collections of the New-York Historical Society” (1996).

Dan Bruhns is one of the foremost collectors of early American stoneware. He has over the past thirty years concentrated on acquiring documented examples of early stoneware in an effort to discover the attributes of individual potter’s work.

The Collaborators

Potteries of Trenton Society

The Potteries of Trenton Society was created in 1999 as a non-profit educational organization dedicated to accumulating data on Trenton’s vast pottery industry, interpreting the data, and distributing the results through its website and publications in various forms. POTS is also dedicated to promoting heritage tourism for the historic pottery—associated sites remaining in Trenton and the historical exhibitions available in several institutions. In 2001, POTS reprinted the booklet entitled From Teacups to Toilets: A Century of Industrial Pottery in Trenton, Circa 1850 to 1940 with the help of the New Jersey Historical Commission and continues to distribute the booklet to school teachers, collectors, students, historians, archaeologists, and anyone else who asks for a copy. For a free copy contact [email protected].

The New Jersey Historical Society

The New Jersey Historical Society ( is a state-wide, private, non-profit historical museum, library, and archives dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the rich and intricate political, social, cultural and economic history of New Jersey to the broadest possible audiences. Founded in 1845, it is the oldest cultural institution in the state. Through exhibitions, publications, and programming, The Society examines who and what New Jersey is, what it means to live and work in New Jersey, what contributes to New Jersey’s distinct identity, and what are the unique contributions New Jerseyans make to the region and the country. Through the history of New Jersey – a quintessentially American place—the Historical Society promotes exploration of cultures, past and present.

Historical Background: A Brief Review of New Jersey’s Eighteenth-Century Ceramic History

The origins of stoneware manufacture in the Middle Atlantic lie in late medieval European ceramic technology and an awareness among colonists of outcrops of high-grade clays along the eastern seaboard that were suitable for making dense, hard, durable and highly fired pottery. One major clay outcrop, well known from the late 17th century onward, was located on the shores of the Raritan Bay, near present-day South Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey. As early as 1685-86, references in West Jersey court records indicate that sources of stoneware clay were known to early settlers. These clays, almost certainly beds within the Raritan Formation, would likely have included what later became known as the “Morgan bank,” a thick and easily accessible deposit exposed along the south shore of the Raritan Bay and the northwest side of Cheesequake Creek Clay mined from this general area supported the growth of American stoneware manufacture up and down the east coast for at least three centuries.

At least nine stoneware manufactories are known to have been in existence in New Jersey during the 18th century. The earliest of these was operated by John Peter Kemple and his family from the mid-1740s until around 1800 near the village of Ringoes in Hunterdon County. Excavations at this site by Brenda Springsted in the mid-1970s produced a variety of utilitarian forms and decorations. Slightly later in the mid-18th century, Captain James Morgan, a key figure in the history of New Jersey stoneware and owner of substantial clay-bearing acreage, opened a stoneware manufactory in Cheesequake, where he trained the next generation of stoneware potters in the region, among whom were his son, General James Morgan and son-in-law Thomas Warne. Waste dumps associated with the Morgan pottery were extensively sampled in the mid-20th century by Robert Sim and James Brown. Excavations by Hunter Research in the mid-1990s located the lower portion of one of the Morgan’s stoneware kilns.

In the 1770s at least three potteries were making stoneware in Trenton. In 1999, in advance of the reconstruction of N.J. Route 29 along the Delaware riverfront in South Trenton, Hunter Research located and excavated a stoneware kiln attributed to William Richards, which was in operation circa 1770-80. This site has provided a wealth of information about 18th-century stoneware kiln technology and the types of wares being produced. In 2003, re-examination of materials previously excavated from the backyard of the Eagle Tavern on South Broad Street resulted in the recognition of this as the probable site of a stoneware pottery operated by James Rhodes circa 1774-84. The site of the third of Trenton’s stoneware potteries, run by Bernard Hanlen (or Hanlon), is uncertain, but it is believed to have been along the Assunpink Creek in the Millham section of the city.

Archival research pursued in connection with the study of William Richards’ pottery has led to the identification of two other late 18th-century stoneware manufactories in New Jersey: one operated in Barbadoes Neck (now Hackensack City) by Burnit Richards in the late 1780s, and the other in Elizabethtown by Ichabod Halsey in the 1790s.

During the 19th century stoneware production in New Jersey was mainly centered on the clay mines in the South Amboy area. Well-known facilities include the Warne & Letts pottery in Cheesequake and Morgan-Van Wickle Pottery in Old Bridge. The production of grey-bodied salt-glazed stoneware declined in the second half of the 19th century due in part to the industrialization of the pottery industry, the movement of production facilities into major urban centers and the development of other wares, such as whiteware and ironstone china. Today 18th-century stonewares from New Jersey are highly regarded as collectible items and much sought after by major museums.