Excelsior Pottery

View this page as a PDF     


The Database is organized by location, but you can find a pottery initially by searching for its name, which is at the top of the of the page with dates of operation below. Alternate names and the names of other potteries on the same site are noted at the top of the right-hand column, just above the pottery’s location.

The types of wares made appear below the pottery name in the left-hand column, followed by the references that informed these classifications.

Sample images of maker’s marks may be enlarged by clicking on the image.

Notes include a variety of information compiled from many standard sources and are presented as miscellaneous tidbits.

In the Gallery and Map Gallery in the right-hand column you will see historic images and insurance maps of the pottery’s facilities if available as well as historic advertisements and images of the wares made.

You can download more detailed information in all of these categories by choosing a PDF of the pottery’s full listing, which also includes the documentary sources. The PDF is text only and does not contain any images.  Data from the 1860, 1870 and 1880 industrial censuses area also included in the PDF if they exist for a given pottery. This data gives you a picture of the size of the pottery operation and the age and gender makeup of its work force.

You can help expand the database by contributing pictures and information. Contact POTS by the email address at the bottom of the page.

In operation    1879-1909


White granite, c.c., decorated ware, and porcelain hardware trimmings (1878 Price List)

Thin opaque porcelain and hotel ware, white granite, c.c., decorated ware, majolica goods, porcelain, hardware trimmings, etc. (Industries of New Jersey 1882:206)

White and decorated pottery, underglaze printed dinner, tea and toilet ware for the jobbing trade; Belleek, art porcelain, superior opaque porcelain, thin and hotel, white granite and c.c. ware, fine decorated dinner, tea and toilet ware (Board of Trade 1900)

Earthen and chinaware (Industrial Directory 1901)

Electrical porcelain (Industrial Directory 1909)

Majolica, including doorknobs (Snyder and Bockol 1994:140)

Maker's Marks

Click to enlarge


“The rapid growth of the Willets’ Manufacturing Company’s works is probably the best indication of the remarkable expansion of the pottery business in the city of Trenton. It is a most fitting circumstance that the large factory which has just been completed by the addition of several large buildings, should have arisen from the nucleus of the first pottery established in Trenton.”

— “Among the Potters.” Trenton Evening Times, Sunday, November 15, 1885.

Selected References

“The Pottery Enterprise.” Trenton State Gazette, Monday, March 8, 1880.

“Among the Potters.” Trenton Evening Times, Sunday, November 15, 1885.

Harney, W.J. 1929. “Trenton’s First Potteries.” Sunday Times Advertiser, July 7, 14, 21 and 28, 1929.

Cleary, J.J. 1932. “Willets Bros.- Alpaugh & Magowan.” Sunday Times Advertiser, January 24, 1932.

Gaston, Mary Frank. 1984.  American Belleek.  Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky.

Frelinghuysen, Alice Cooney. 1989.  American Porcelain, 1770-1920.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

Goldberg, David J. 1998.  Preliminary Notes on the Pioneer Potters and Potteries of Trenton, N.J.: The First Thirty Years – 1852 – 1882 (And Beyond).  Privately published, Trenton, New Jersey.

Hunter Research, Inc. 2005. “Historical and Archaeological Investigations at the Excelsior Pottery Site, Southard Street Bridge Replacement Project, City of Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey.” Report on file, New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJDEP), Trenton, New Jersey.

Other Names

Willets Manufacturing Company

Block and Lot:
46E-1/24, 53-68, 72, 76

Historic Street Address:
Brunswick Avenue near City Limits; Southard Street; 400 Southard Street

City of Trenton

1880 Census

Name in censusWillets M'fturing Co.
Number of hands260
Males above 16175
Females above 1535
May to Nov hours10
Nov to May hours10
Skilled wages2.4
Ordinary wages1.25
Total wages in year70000
Full time months12
Value of raw material60000
Value of product175000
Number of engines1
Horse power130