The Dawn of Independence: The Death of An Industry


The red earthenware industry in Charlestown, Massachusetts supplied households throughout coastal New England with utilitarian wares, circa 1635-1775. The industry was unsurpassed in New England with production recovered as far north as Canada and as far south as the Carolinas. Dozens of potters and a number of businesses made up this industry; the most prominent years of production were 1740-1775. There was even an attempt to produce stoneware in the 1740s in competition with New York City, Philadelphia and Virginia. The identity of this industry was destroyed in 1775 during the Battle of Bunker Hill. More than 200 years later, this identity was revealed when archaeologists excavated part of Charlestown for Boston’s Big Dig Project. These important artifacts provide a better understanding of how far Charlestown’s pottery traveled before 1775. This book is the first of its kind, exploring the history of Charlestown’s industry, the pottery, the exports and its historical significance.
Justin W. Thomas is a resident of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and a collector, researcher and writer about American pottery production from the seventeenth through the early-twentieth century. He has studied at archaeology departments, museums and private collections across the country, publishing many articles about American potteries in regional and national publications. Thomas was a guest curator at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, assembling a temporary exhibit of locally made pottery from the Colonial period through the early-twentieth century. He also helped to write the exhibit catalog, Potters on the Merrimac: A Century of New England Ceramics. He is also the author of The Beverly Pottery: The Wares of Charles A. Lawrence and The Moses B. Paige Company: The Last of the Peabody Potteries.

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