Franklin Pottery


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In operation



Wedgwood mortars, flat top jars, stoneware, Parian, jet blacks, etc. (1876 Advertisement); Wedgwood & Berlin mortars, flat top jars, fine stoneware (Woodward and Hageman 1883:860)


“Fire. — Last evening about half past 8 o’clock an alarm of fire was sounded which proved to come from the direction of Millham. On investigation it was found that the pottery of Mr. Thomas Whitehead, on the Millham road, immediately in front of the Hamilton Rubber Works, was on fire. The Fire Department were early on the ground, but all the plugs in the vicinity were frozen up except one, and only a scanty supply of water could be procured from that. The building and stock were totally destroyed, causing damage to the amount of about $10,000, as near as we could learn, partly covered by insurance. There are strong suspicions of incendiarism in the matter, as a man was seen to leave the pottery just before the fire broke out” (Trenton State Gazette, Tuesday, March 2, 1875).

“We were shown yesterday an exquisite piece of artistic Parian. It is the handiwork of Mr. George Wood who is now engaged in making ornamental Parian work at Whitehead’s Pottery, Millham.

This piece, is a wreath of moss roses and lilies of the valley, and is a perfectly artistic production, each petal and tendril being wrought upon the tiny stems with a beautiful sense of nature.

Trenton is to be congratulated upon the success of this addition to her artistic pottery, for it was upon this class of work that Josiah Wedgewood founded his fame. We had the pleasure of seeing a collection of beautiful Wedgewood cameos at the New York Academy of Design, and we see no reason why they cannot be produced in Trenton, when our artisans can turn out such a delicate piece of workmanship as that now on exhibition in the window of Messrs. Cook & Jaques” (Trenton State Gazette, March 2, 1878).

“The firm of Bock & Whitehead, formerly engaged in the manufacture of porcelain and mineral knobs in East Trenton, has recently dissolved the partnership existing between them, and Mr. Warren Kimball, having disposed of his interest in the grocery business, has entered into a partnership with Mr. Boch to continue the business” (Trenton State Gazette, April 11, 1879).

“The Franklin pottery, of Franklin, Ohio, of which Mr. Alfred Lawshe of this city is president, will be in full operation about the first of May. Messrs. McKenzie and Wilkes, of this city, have the contract for supplying the light machinery, which will be delivered on the cars for transportation, on April tenth” (Trenton State Gazette, Monday, March 8, 1880).

The Franklin Pottery was established in 1873 by Thomas Whitehead & Co. (Thomas Whitehead and Thomas Massey), and the pottery on Prince Street was then erected. In 1875, Mr. Massey withdrew from the firm, and the business has since been conducted by Mr. Whitehead. At this pottery are manufactured Wedgewood and Berlin mortars, flat-top jars, and fine stoneware. Here were manufactured the first Wedgewood mortars made in this country (Woodward and Hageman 1883:860).

There is considerable confusion between this pottery, located on the corner of Prince and Mead Streets and the Hankinson Pottery on North Clinton Avenue (the Millham Road) and Webster Street. The Boyd’s Directory entries for 1874 are also confusing, listing Thomas Whitehead’s Franklin Pottery on Webster near Clinton and Patrick Foy as operating a pottery on Prince Street near Webster Street, both in Millham. This would seem to imply that Whitehead’s Franklin Pottery may have started operation on the Hankinson Pottery site and then moved to Foy’s site (this site). There is much conflicting information in Woodward and Hageman 1883, Harney 1929 and Goldberg 1998.

Selected References

Boyd, Andrew and William H. Boyd. 1874. “Boyd’s Trenton City Directory: Containing the Names of Its Citizens, a Compendium of Its Government and of Public and Private Institutions, and a Business Directory of the Principal Towns in Mercer County, a List of Farmers.” Andrew Boyd and W. Harry Boyd, Syracuse, New York and Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

“Fire.” Trenton State Gazette, Tuesday, March 2, 1875.

Trenton State Gazette, March 2, 1878.

“Pottery Notes.” Trenton State Gazette, April 11, 1879

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

Fitzgerald, Thomas F. 1880-1883, 1886-87. “Fitzgerald’s Trenton and Mercer County Directory, Together with a Directory of Bordentown, Burlington, Mount Holly and Lambertville, NJ and Morrisville, PA, Included a Fund of Information Concerning Public and Private Institutions, National, State, County, City and Borough Governments, Gathered from Reliable and Official Sources.” Thomas F. Fitzgerald, Trenton, New Jersey.

Woodward, E.M. and J.F. Hageman. 1883. “History of Burlington and Mercer Counties.” Everts and Peck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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

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.

Other Names

Franklin Pottery Company; Franklin Pottery; Thomas Whitehead & Company;

Block and Lot:

Historic Street Address:
Prince near Webster; Meade Av., Millham

Lawrence Township; Millham Township

1880 Census

Name in censusWilliam T. Lee
Number of hands14
Males above 168
Females above 153
May to Nov hours10
Nov to May hours10
Skilled wages2
Ordinary wages1
Total wages in year1000
Full time months4
Months idle8
Value of raw material1000
Value of product2500