Think of antique redware pottery of the 19th century a little like Tupperware today. Practical and sturdy, people used it for everything from food storage, to dining plates, to money banks. But this material is kind of fragile. It got scratched, broken, and usually thrown out. And inevitable innovations (metal, glass) made redware pottery obsolete by 1900.
Recently, a client sent a picture of a redware plate and requested that I find another. She attributed the plate to the William Diamond redware manufactory. This pottery was in Salem, New Jersey, and operated from 1833 to 1885. William Diamond rented the pottery at Ward and Howell Streets from entrepreneur Benjamin Acton. This New Jersey redware pottery supplied the regional farms from Bridgeton to Sharptown with useful and durable redware. Diamond also produced decorative garden pots and church money banks. My client’s plate remained in her family ever since they acquired it from the pottery.
The Historical Society of Salem owns a number of plates that match the one you see here. Although redware is difficult to attribute, the similarities in style and locale make a strong case for the Society’s plates also being Diamond pieces.
Check them out yourself. The Historical Society of Salem County, New Jersey is located at 83 Market Street in Salem, NJ. Hours are Tuesday –Saturday noon – 4 PM