Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Britannia Ware

The American Frugal housewife ©1835 I ran across an entry on how to treat Britannia ware. (Britannia ware should be first rubbed gendv with a woolen cloth and sweet oil; then washed in warm suds, and rubbed with soft leather and whiting. Thus treated, it will retain its beauty to the last.')

This made me wonder what exactly was Britannia ware and it's origins. My search resulted in an article written by Stephen Hall for the Historical Society in Beverly, MA. In the article Mr. Hall tells not only some of the history involved with the process of who created Britannia ware but also shares some of the folklore surrounding the invention. Unfortunately when I first posted this post back in 2011 the article has since disappeared from the internet. There is a note from the Beverly Historical Society on their timeline of Beverly History:
1812 The War of 1812 closed Beverly Harbor to trade First Britannia ware made in America in the shop of Israel Trask (160 Cabot Street, ruins of a kiln can still be seen in the backyard.)

However I did find the piece from "The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil ©1856

The business of making Britannia-ware in our country has grown to great proportions, and its growth is still increasing in magnitude. Very much the largest establishment for this important business we suppose to be in West Meriden, Ct., owned and operated by the " Meriden Britannia Co." The establishment, whilst it has a oneness, nuiy properly be divided into three more distinct factories. One is north of the depot, where steam power i< used, and where the ware made is mostly cast, and for. common use. Immense quantities and diverse qualities of ware are turned out of this shop, exciting the admiration of even traveled persons. Another factory is "over east" some three miles, where water power is used, and where1 ware is both cast and "spun up" in largo quantities, and some of it admirable qualities. Up stairs and down, through many stories, are ponderous machines and multitudes of men, actively at work upon ware in some stage of its construction, from the rough ingot to the burnished vase or tankard. But the largest factory is " down in Wallingford," whero more men are employed, and where all the ware is either roiled, pressed and run up, or is the product of all three processes of manufacturing. In this factory the perfection of the art of making this ware is seen. With engines and machines, newly invented and constructed, with many men of great ingenuity long applied, with ample means and facilities, an immense quantity of culinary and purely ornamental wares of astonishing excellence i3 thus turned out into the American market. Each factory has its manager. Silver plating and burnishing are done only at this place. The burnishing hall is large, and the large company of men engaged in it furnishes some of the finest countenances in the State. • These three manufactories, under the name of " Meriden Britannia Co." are the largest establishment in this business on this continent. It has, too, ite "commercial gentleman," who is constantly visiting towns and villages in all the latitudes and longitudes of our country, effecting sales to persons of taste and refinement, as well as to those who use this ware in common life. "Where does our ware go to?" asks the manufacturer, astonished at the quantity demanded. "Where dots all the Britannia ware come from?" asks the million of users and admirers. We cannot say where it all comes from, but we can say, that immense quantities go from the large establishment of the Meriden Company.
End Quote

You can do a quick search of Images for Britannia Ware and discover that is was pewter plates, cups, tea sets, etc.

Quite a while back on one of my historical writer's email loops I'm on, I was reflecting upon the death of Osama Bin Laden and how wars in my life time effect me and apply this to our characters with regard to the wars our characters have lived through. Britannia ware is a result of the war of 1812. The old adage "Necessity is the Mother of invention." holds true time and time again.

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