Mercer Pottery

  

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In operation

1875-1946

Wares

white granite and c.c. ware, also decorated goods, stone, porcelain and hotel ware (Main and Fitzgerald 1877); Mercer China (Woodward and Hageman 1883:692-693); pottery ware (Industrial Directory 1906); porcelain ware (Industrial Directory 1909); dinner and hotel ware (Industrial Directory 1918); general ware; electrical porcelain (Industrial Directory 1927); dinnerware (Industrial Directory 1931); china, special and electrical porcelain (Industrial Directory 1938); electrical porcelain, porcelain specialties (Industrial Directory 1940-41) Toilet sets (1885).

Notes

“China clay is obtained from the celebrated banks on the Brandywine, Delaware and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania; the feldspar from Maine, and is considered the best in the country, while the flint comes from Maryland” (Everts & Stewart 1875:XII).

“The Mercer Pottery was built in the year 1868. It is one of the finest and most substantial structures in the city. Composed of stone, with slate roofs, entirely new, and having been erected all at one time in the most modern and approved form, the buildings have as great a capacity as and better facilities than some larger establishments. When in full operation, it is able to produce $15,000 worth of ware per month.

É In the year 1875, Mr. James Moses (formerly secretary and treasurer of the Glasgow Pottery Company) purchased the establishment, and since that time he has continued to run it under the old firm name of The Mercer Pottery CompanyÉ

A full line of the grades of ware manufactured, and which may be found at the works at all times, is as follows: White granite and C.C. ware, also decorated goods, stone, porcelain and hotel ware. Having an extensive decorating establishment on the premises, that branch of the business is a specialty” (Mains & Fitzgerald 1877).

“White granite ware is manufactured here, but the principal business is the manufacture of what is termed Mercer china, a specialty of this pottery. This is like French china, but lacks the translucency of that ware. This establishment has eight kilns, and two hundred hands are employed” (Woodward and Hageman 1883:693).

“The Mercer Pottery Company show the latest production in their favorite line of Mercer china. The “Alaska” is the only square toilet set that I have ever seen, or, at least, so near the prevailing shapes in table ware as to be classed among the square forms. The principal feature of this set, aside from the novelty in shape, is the excellent surface which it presents for the application of fine decorations, and the several new designs which have been prepared for it make it one of the most attractive novelties of the season” (Trenton Evening Times, Sunday, November 15, 1885).

“Mr. Moses invented a new line of goods, now known as Mercer china, for the Centennial Exhibition, which gained him a reputation and a demand for his productions which enabled him to gain, in a few years, his present ample fortune É The premises occupied by the Mercer Pottery consist of an extensive series of two and three story buildings, admirably equipped with all the latest improved facilities as regards machinery, apparatus, and modern labor-saving appliances. Ten expert assistants and four hundred operatives are employed in the various departments, and the machinery is driven by a superior hundred-horse power steam engine. The company utilizes eight burning and four decorating kilns, and their sales aggregate over $300,000 annually at the present time. The company manufacture extensively the famous Mercer china, which ware was the first and is still the finest American semi-porcelain. These productions are superior to the best imported goods, and are unrivalled for finsh, quality, beauty of design, and artistic excellence. They are everywhere recognized and appreciated by the trade as standard productions, and always command a ready sale wherevr introduced. The trade of the house extends throughout all sections of the United States” (Quarter Century’s Progress 1887:290).

Produced the commemorative plate for the 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Trenton (250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Trenton 1929).

Buildings demolished 1939-1940 (City of Trenton Tax Assessor Records).

City and state directories from 1926 to at least 1946 also list the Union Electric Manufacturing Company as being at this address on the rear of the property. The Union Electric Manufacturing Company was located at Hamilton Avenue and Clark Street prior to relocating here.

Selected References

R.G. Dun & Company Collection, Mercer County. 1862-1875. 1 [44]:22.

Boyd, Andrew and William H. Boyd. 1875-1876. “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.

Mains, Bishop W. and Thomas F. Fitzgerald. 1877-1879. “Mains and Fitzgerald’s Trenton, Chambersburg and Millham Directory: Containing the Names of the Citizens, Statistical Business Report, Historical Sketches, a List of the Public and Private Institutions, Together with National, State, County, and City Government.” Bishop W. Mains & Thomas F. Fitzgerald, Trenton, New Jersey.

Young, Jennie J. 1879. “The Ceramic Art: A Compendium of the History and Manufacture of Pottery and Porcelain.” Harper & Bros., New York, New York.

Federal Census of New Jersey. 1880. Industrial Schedules. On file, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

Mercer Pottery Co. 1880. “Manufacturers of Stone Porcelain, Thin Ware, Stone Porcelain Hotel Ware, White Granite, C.C., Decorated Ware, and Metal Topped Molasses Jugs, Trenton, New Jersey.” Mercer Pottery Co., Trenton, New Jersey.

Fitzgerald, Thomas F. 1880-1900. “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.

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

Quarter-Century’s Progress of New Jersey’s Leading Manufacturing Centres. Dover. 1887. International Publishing Company, New York.

Jervis, William P. 1897. “A Book of Pottery Marks.” Press of Hayes Bros., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fitzgerald, Thomas F. 1901-1938. “Fitzgerald’s Trenton and Mercer County Directory, Together with a Directory of Bordentown, Burlington, Mount Holly and Lambertville, NJ.” Thomas F. Fitzgerald, Trenton, New Jersey.

Hood, John. 1905. “Index of Colonial and State Laws of New Jersey Between the Years 1663 and 1903 Inclusive.” Sinniskson, Chew & Sons Co., Camden, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Industrial Statistics. 1906. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Industrial Statistics. 1909. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

Newark Museum Association. 1914. “The Work of The Potteries of New Jersey: From 1685 to 1876 , Being Extracts from ‘The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States,’ by Edwin Atlee Barber and Marks of New Jersey Potteries, as Reproduced from ‘Pottery,’ Published by The Thomas Maddock’s Sons Company.” Newark Museum Association, Newark, New Jersey.

Secretary of State. 1914. “Corporations of New Jersey, List of Certificates to December 31, 1911.” MacCrellish & Quigley, Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Industrial Statistics. 1918. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Statistics and Records, Department of Labor. 1927. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

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

Trenton Chamber of Commerce. 1929. “Trenton: 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Trenton.” On file, Trenton Public Library, Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Statistics and Records, State Department of Labor. 1931. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Statistics and Records, State Department of Labor. 1938. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Bureau of Statistics and Records, State Department of Labor. 1940-41. “The Industrial Directory of New Jersey.” Trenton, New Jersey.

Huston, Charles W. 1946. “Trenton New Jersey City Directory.” Charles W. Huston, Trenton, New Jersey.

Lehner, Lois. 1980. “Complete Book of American Kitchen and Dinner Wares.” Wallace-Homestead Book Company, Des Moines, Iowa.

Robinson, Dorothy and Bill Feeny. 1980. “The Official Price Guide to American Pottery & Porcelain.” House of Collectibles, Orlando, Florida.

Lehner, Lois. 1988. “Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay.” Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky.

Gaston, Mary Frank. 1994. “Collector’s Encyclopedia of Flow Blue China.” Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky.

Jasper, Joanne. 1996. “Turn of the Century American Dinnerware 1880s to 1920s.” Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky.

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.

Conroy, Barbara J. 1999. “Restaurant China: Volume 2.” Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky.

City of Trenton Tax Assessor Records. On file, Trenton Public Library, Trenton, New Jersey.

Wall, John P. N.d. “History of the Potteries of Trenton, New Jersey.” Manuscript on file, Trenton Public Library, Trenton, New Jersey.

Other firms at this site:

Other Names

Mercer Pottery Company; Union Electric Manufacturing Company; Union Electric Porcelain Works, Inc.

Block and Lot:
39-1B/1

Historic Street Address:
Railroad Avenue near North Clinton Avenue; Railroad Avenue opposite Ott Street; Railroad Avenue near Perrine; 39 Muirhead Ave.; 19 Muirhead Ave.; 30 Muirhead Ave.; 27 Muirhead Ave; 31 Muirhead Avenue

Municipality:
City of Trenton

1880 Census

Name in censusMercer Pottery
Capital100000
Number of hands200
Males above 16125
Females above 1525
Children50
May to Nov hours10
Nov to May hours10
Skilled wages2
Ordinary wages1.25
Total wages in year75000
Full time months9
3/4 time Months3
Value of raw material75000
Value of product200000
Number of engines1
Horse power75