Not sure if you can tell from my blog entries so I will say it … I love pottery pieces. Just in case my “Bowls” blog didn’t make that clear or my “Cliff” blog was a little vague about the whole pottery issue. I mean glass has its allure but there is something about the solidness of a piece of clay that has been fired and manipulated into a utilitarian piece that makes me drool. Not sure if that is healthy but I don’t really care. I love pottery.
One pottery company that I am going to highlight today is Purinton Pottery. They made some really unique pieces. Take a look at this sugar bowl and creamer to start with. Each piece was hand-painted. They had only 8 to 10 trained artists at any given time and they were each trained to work the designs that were staples of the company’s business. But because they each had a different style the pieces themselves, while similar are all unique. This is their classic Apple pattern. Another piece that bears that same pattern is the Lemonade Pitcher with an ice lip. Such a graceful piece and it has survived since the 1940s. I find that amazing.
According to Wisconsin Pottery, the Purinton Pottery Company started in 1939 and stayed in business until 1959. During that time they manufactured a wide variety of hand-painted pieces. Bernard Purinton bought out the East Liverpool Pottery Company in 1936 in Wellesville, OH and began the Purinton Pottery Company patenting his unique method of casting called Slipware. This efficient method allowed molds to be placed on racks so multiple pieces could be done at once and the decoration was done on greenware which means they have not been fired yet and are at their most fragile. But utilizing this method and having the handles attached at this point rather than after the first firing made the handles stronger and the process faster.
There were some drawbacks to this method.
One of the more rare pieces by Purinton is the Oasis Jug which was very round and top heavy so most of them caved in on themselves before they could be fired. If you find one, grab it although they run near $1,000 dollars if you find one in great condition.
William Blair, Bernard Purinton’s brother-in-law was an artist. He created the Apple design which is one of their most famous and popular designs. Eventually, as the business grew, they needed more manufacturing space so they moved to a new facility in Shippenville, PA in 1941. William Blair eventually left to start his own ceramics company known as Blair Ceramics in Ozark, Missouri.
Interestingly enough, there was another plant owned by Purinton that made items for other companies such as Taylor, Smith and Taylor and Esmond. One of the popular items made for Esmond was a four-part canister set like the one below.
They made a lot of these during the 1950s.
After William Blair left the company, his sister Dorothy Purinton became the main designer of new patterns.
Some patterns that were popular in the 1950s were Brown Intaglio, Apple, Normandy Plaid and Pennsylvania Dutch.
It was also during the 1950s, however that foreign imports started to flood the market. This spelled the beginning of the end for Purinton. They could not compete with the cheap imports of dinnerware and figurines as they continued to hand-paint, but did not want to sacrifice the quality that they had built. In 1959 Purinton shut its doors. But they left behind some beautiful pieces that are still useful almost 75 years after they were made. I hope I still look this good at 75!
Please visit Wisconsin Pottery for a lot more information on Purinton Pottery.