Dear CRV members,
We are forwarding this notice of interesting archeological finds at the
U.S. Pottery Site in Bennington. Hope that you will find this of
Subject: U.S. Pottery Dig
Sent: 6/24/97 9:54 PM
Received: 6/25/97 5:50 AM
From: Cathie Zusy, [log in to unmask]
To: Kathleen Callum, [log in to unmask]
To: Robert Sloma, GEOARCH
From: Cathie Zusy, Project Director, U.S. Pottery Dig
Re: Press Release about related exhibition and project findings
FINDINGS FROM RECENT EXCAVATION OF U.S. POTTERY CO.
by Catherine Zusy
On Thursday, June 26 a small exhibition about the recent archeological
excavation of the U.S. Pottery Co. site will open at the Bennington (VT)
Library. On view will be photographs of the dig and examples of
representative and particularly interesting sherds found.
>From May 26 through May 30, 1997, fifteen volunteers, led by project director
Catherine Zusy and archeologist Dr. David Starbuck dug nine
pits and one two-by-two-meter-square pit in the southwest corner of the
Bennington Elementary School playground. This area was thought to be just
behind the southern-most wing of the Pottery (erected in 1853), where
whiteware and parian were made. The area bounded by the pits covered less
than 5% of the original four-acre Pottery site.
The United States Pottery Company (1847-1858) was the first large
Pottery in New England and is credited with being the first in the
produce parian porcelain figures. The goal of the exploratory dig was to
develop a better sense for 1) what porcelain and parian (bisque porcelain
with a high feldspar content) the Pottery manufactured and 2) what other
white, yellow, and agate wares the Pottery made.
Since the U. S. Pottery Co. marked very little of its parian (and no known
figures), published no illustrated price lists, and employed England
designers who regularly copied English forms, little is known about what
parian the Pottery made.
During the one-week exploratory excavation thousands of ceramic sherds and
bits of kiln furniture were found. The size, concentration, and
of sherds in certain pits suggests that at least part of the area dug was
dump site for the Pottery. Most sherds measured under 2" X 2" and were
in second and third soil layers (about one to two feet below the
Among the sherds found were hundreds of fragments of parian ware.
Preliminary analysis suggests that most of these fragments are parts of
different pitchers types documented as being made by the Pottery. (There
marked examples at the Bennington Museum.) These designs are illustrated
Richard Carter Barret's Bennington Pottery and Porcelain (see page numbers
listed below) and feature the following relief decoration:
wild rose (p. 63) syrup pitchers:
tulip & sunflower (p. 69) palm tree (p. 77)
pond lily (p. 80) bird & nest (p. 76)
flower & vine (p. 53) climbing ivy (p. 77)
charter oak (p. 41)
cascade (p. 40)
arabesque (p. 81, bottom row, center & right)
Most of the parian fragments were of the wild rose and pond lily patterns.
Very few sherds were found of the following designs: arabesque, climbing
ivy, and bird & nest. No sherds were found of the love & war, snowdrop,
Paul & Virginia pitcher designs (although marked examples exist in the
Bennington Museum collection). A very few pieces of blue and white
the charter oak and pond lily pattern were uncovered.
Also found were about twenty pieces of parian that have not yet been
identified with documented forms. Zusy and Eugene Kosche, both former
curators at the Bennington Museum, will study these further in the coming
weeks. (Some pieces may become less mysterious upon closer inspection.)
Among the mystery pieces are several fragments of what appears to be the
cover of a parian sugar bowl. Also of interest are blue earthenware
fragments of the flower & vine pitcher design and yellowware fragments of
flower & vine and the charter oak design.
While analysis of archeological finds is not complete, it appears that
of parian figures, vases, or trinket boxes were not found. This does not
mean that the Pottery did not produce these items. It suggests, rather,
if the Pottery made them, fragments of these objects were not dumped in
specific area excavated. Since the third southern wing was not added to
Pottery until the fall of 1853, over a year after Zusy thinks the Pottery
began commercial production of parian, Zusy believes that it is not too
surprising that sherds of some of the Pottery's earliest parian pitchers
(love & war and snowdrop) and parian figures were not found. These pieces
may have been dumped behind one of the two earlier (1850) wings of the
Pottery or in adjacent areas not excavated. According to Zusy, "As only
of the ten pits dug had any significant amounts of parian ware, it appears
that we did not find the major dump site."
More than one-half of the pottery fragments found were pieces of unglazed
(bisque-fired only) yellowware and whiteware with paneled, ribbed, and
geometric designs. A few pieces had designs not previously documented as
Bennington. These include fragments with an arabesque motif in relief.
other particularly interesting fragments include a yellowware face from a
small Toby pitcher and a chubby arm and hand from an as yet unidentified
small yellowware figure.
Sherds of glazed Rockingham and flint enamel and a few pieces of glazed
whiteware and scroddled (or agate) ware were also found. In addition, the
group uncovered several sherds of a refined stoneware (including
an undocumented hanging planter and a teapot with grape and foliage relief
design), and utilitarian stoneware -- probably fragments of water coolers
jars made by the Norton Pottery next door.
Zusy and Starbuck will publish their findings about the dig at the end of
September, when they will donate everything excavated to the Bennington
The exploratory dig was carried out with the support of the Bennington
District, the Bennington Museum, and the Bennington Free Library. Many
individuals, businesses, and institutions also made significant
contributions. The following individuals contributed their time:
Ann Clay Marge Galvin Dale Gerity Arthur Goldberg
Marc Goldberg Meg Gourley Betty Hall Dennis Howe
Sonja Jaffee John Kennedy Priscilla Kennedy Eugene Kosche
Lil Potter Marjorie Robbins Victor Rolando Irene Schlesinger
David Starbuck Catherine Zusy.
Among the financial sponsors were:
Aaron & Sons Charles and Barbara Adams
Florence Barnes Bennington Co-op Savings and Loan
The Bennington Museum Bennington Potters, Inc.
CTC Photo Factory Store Terry M. W. Ehrich
Anita Gauthier Arthur and Esther Goldberg
Hemmings Motor News Sam and Marietta Hibbard
Grace and Robert Jacobs Robert E. Kinnaman and Brian A. Ranaekers, Inc.
Jay A. and Emma Lewis Victor Rolando.
The small exhibition about the excavation will be on display in the
section of the Bennington Free Library through July 31. The Bennington
Library, at 101 Silver Street, is open Monday & Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.;
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.
-1 p.m. The Library is closed on Sundays. For further information about
exhibition, contact the Bennington Free Library at 802-442-9051 or
Zusy at 617-868-0489.
Kathleen E. Callum/ Robert A. Sloma
RR 2 Box 2429-1
Brandon VT 05733
TEL: (802) 247-8127
FAX: (802) 247-0107
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