Trenton China Company


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In operation



pure china, with a specialty in thick and half-thick ware for hotels, restaurants, steamboats (Industries of New Jersey 1882:164); translucent vitreous china earthenware, hotel ware (Woodward and Hageman 1883:693)


“The business was started in 1880 É Their manufacture comprises everything in the line of pottery of pure china, making a specialty of thick and half-thick ware for hotels, restaurants, steamboats, etc. The manufactory is of brick, 100×150 feet in size, and divided into the various departments, such as moulding rooms, storehouses, d[r]ying rooms, kilns and kiln sheds, packing-rooms, salesroom, office, etc. There are three stacks, and the facilities throughout are of the finest order. Employment is given to one hundred hands É The finest clays here used are imported, yet considerable of our native clay is utilized. The office has telephonic communication with the chief business houses of this city É The officers and members of the company are James H. Moon, President É Thomas A. Bell, the Secretary É James Clarke, the Treasurer É The Superintendent is Mr. John Tams, a thoroughly practical and skillful potter É” (Industries of New Jersey 1882:164-165).

“This [firm] was organized in November, 1880, with James Moore, president, and Charles Satterthwaite, secretary and Treasurer. The present officers are Thomas A. Bell, president; Charles Cadwallader, secretary; and James Clarke, treasurer. This company is engaged in the manufacture of translucent vitreous china exclusively. Hotel ware is a specialty, although other kinds are produced. This pottery has four kilns, and employs one hundred hands” (Woodward and Hageman 1883:693).

“The Trenton China Company have succeeded in improving the color of their vitrified goods and bringing them nearer the tint of true porcelain, a very desirable object the attainment of which has been attended by considerable difficulty. In the production of hotel china they have carried the same point of improvement and are now manufacturing a class of goods that meet the approval of the leading hotel keepers and restauranteurs in the United States” (Trenton Evening Times, Sunday, November 15, 1885).

In 1859 a corporation titled “Trenton China Company” was founded, but construction of a pottery with that name did not occur for another 20 years. “The plant was located on the site of what had been the Trenton Terra-Cotta Company which had been purchased by James Clark and James Tams both of whom remained associated with the new pottery company” (Goldberg 1998:48).

The Trenton China Company was incorporated in 1880 with $40,000 of capital stock, 75% owned by James H. Moon of Falls, Pennsylvania, 22.5% by Phillip P. Dunn of Trenton, and 2.5% by John Tams of Chambersburg. The company enlarged and refitted parts of the pre-existing terracotta works on the site. Four kilns and 100 employees. Capital stock was increased to $100,000 in 1883 and to $200,000 in 1887. The company was in the hands of the receivers by 1891 and the plant was sold to the newly formed Maddock Pottery Company in 1892 (Hunter Research, Inc. 2003).

Selected References

Fitzgerald, Thomas F. 1881-1891. “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.

“Industries of New Jersey, Trenton, Princeton, Hightstown, Pennington and Hopewell.” 1882. Historical Publishing Company, New York, New York, Newark, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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.

Potters’ National Union. 1893. Official Souvenir of the Convention of the Potters’ National Union of North America held at Trenton, New Jersey. 1893 On file, Trenton Public Library, Trenton, New Jersey.

Lee, Francis B. 1895. “History of Trenton, New Jersey.” F.T. Smiley & Co., Trenton, New Jersey.

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

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.

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

Thorn, C. Jordan. 1947. “Handbook of Old Pottery & Porcelain Marks.” Tudor Publishing Company, New York, New York.

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

Kovel, Ralph and Terry Kovel. 1986. “Kovel’s New Dictionary of Marks: Pottery & Porcelain 1850 to the Present.” Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, New York.

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

Louis Berger & Assoicates, Inc. 1996. “Delaware and Raritan Canal (Site 28Me108) Historical and Archaeological Studies.” Trenton Complex Archaeology: Report 11. The Cultural Resource Group, Louis Berger & Associates, Inc., East Orange, New Jersey. Prepared for the Federal Highway Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Trenton, New Jersey.

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. 2003. “Archaeological Data Recovery Excavations and Monitoring, New Jersey Route 29, City of Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey.” Vol. III. Report on file, New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, Trenton, New Jersey. Draft.

Other Names

Trenton China Company

Block and Lot:
72A; 75B

Historic Street Address:
Third Avenue and Landing Street; 301 Third Street; 300-303 Third Street

City of Trenton