Marblehead Pottery (1904 – 1936) an American Pottery

Marblehead Pottery was a pottery in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Its founding and evolution were considered a classic tale within the history and the heritage of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Early Years

Herbert J. Hall founded the Marblehead Pottery in 1904 as one of several “handcraft shops” that offered occupational therapy to “nervously worn outpatients.” The shops specialised in hand-weaving, woodcarving, and metalwork, with pottery being the most popular.

Alfred E Baggs

Arthur Eugene Baggs, a student at Alfred University’s New York State School of Clay-Working and Ceramic, was hired by Hall. Baggs was convinced to stay in Marblehead beyond the summer and take over day-to-day responsibility for the pottery programme, even though he had not completed his studies at Alfred. Initially, his responsibilities included patient education as well as pottery production. As it became evident that few patients have the necessary skills to manufacture great pottery, the Handicraft Shop established an employed pottery team. In 1908, Baggs was released from his teaching duties. According to Hall, two original pottery employees learned how to make pottery as patients at the sanitarium. Under Baggs’ leadership, the pottery was reconstituted as a distinct business venture in 1908 and given the name Marblehead Pottery. True to Hall’s objectives, the independent Handicraft Shop continued to operate, teaching patients other crafts such as weaving, woodcarving, and cement work.

The Marblehead Pottery produced nearly 200 pieces per week by 1908, including vases, decorated tiles, and jardiniéres.

Arthur Irwin Hennessey, Maude Milner, and Hannah Tutt worked on the team. E.J. Lewis was in charge of the kiln, and John Swallow was the thrower. The clay used was a mix of brick clay from Massachusetts and stoneware clay from New Jersey.

Relocation

The pottery was relocated from Dr Hall’s Devereux mansion to 111 Front Street in Marblehead. In 1916, Baggs took over ownership of the pottery. Baggs was only there in the summers beginning in the 1920s and worked as a glaze chemist at the Cowan Art Pottery Studio near Cleveland, Ohio, from 1925 to 1928. He taught at Ohio State University from 1928 to 1947. Marblehead Pottery went out of business in 1936.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

MP history. MARBLEHEAD POTTERY. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://www.marbleheadpottery.net/mp-history.

Tile (USA); Designed by Arthur Eugene Baggs (American, 1886–1947); earthenware; H x W x D: 15.2 x 15.2 cm (6 x 6 in.); Gift of Marcia and William Goodman; 1984-84-44

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