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PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT AND PRESENT STATE
HISTORICAL NOTICES OF THE MANUFACTURE.
ORIGIN OF THE ART.-BRICKMAKING.–POTTER'S WHEEL.-INDIAN
EARTHENWARES. - ROMAN WATER-PIPES. - REMAINS OF ANCIENT POTTERY ROMAN POTTERIES IN STAFFORDSHIRE. ANTIQUITY OF THE ART IN THE EAST. - PORCELAIN FIRST BROUGHT TO ROME. FIGURES FOUND WITH EGYPTIAN MUMMIES.CHINA-WARES BROUGHT BY PORTUGUESE TRADERS.
DISCOVERY BY DE BOTTICHER IN SAXONY. - MANUFACTURE ATTEMPTED IN FRANCE. INVESTIGATIONS OF REAUMUR. - JONAS HANWAY'S ACCOUNT OF COLLECTION AT DRESDEN. WORKS AT BERLIN. - ENGLISH POTTERIES. — Plor's ACCOUNT. - IMPROVEMENTS. IN GLAZING. - WHITE STONE-WARE. WEDGWOOD's
'S IMPROVEMENTS.-EXPORTATIONS BY WEDGWOOD. -HIS INVENTIONS. CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE PORCELAIN.
PORCELAIN OF DERBY.-OF COALPORT. OF WORCESTER. OF ROTHERHAM.
The formation of earthen vessels capable of containing fuid substances is an art of the very highest antiquity. In the rudest stages of society, the want of such vessels would call forth the inventive powers of mankind; and, probably, the hard shells of some vegetable productions, such as gourds and the larger descriptions of nuts, would be first adapted to the purpose. The pliant and infrangible nature of the skins of animals taken in the chase would, at a very early period, point them out as convenient recipients for fluids; but the preparation of these, as well as the fashioning and hollowing of wooden bowls, supposes a previous knowledge of some manual arts, and implies the possession of tools. After even these had been attained, and supposing that the existence of fire, and its use in preparing food, had become known, vessels formed of wood, or of the hides of animals, would be of little use in rendering that knowledge available. Some savage tribes thus circumstanced, have, indeed, made wooden bowls subservient to this purpose, by throwing into the fluids which they contain, stones previously heated in the fire. This manner of boiling water, and of cooking provisions, is, however, at best, but an inconvenient process, and would be immediately abandoned upon the discovery that certain earthen substances were endowed sufficiently with the quality of resisting the action of fire.
It must continue matter of doubt, whether the fashioning and hardening of clay was practised first by the brickmaker or by the potter.
We know that bricks, thoroughly burned, were used at the building of the tower of Babel, 2200 years before the commencement of the Christian era, and 600 years prior to the carrying away into captivity of the Israelites. That the use of bricks, for the purposes of building, must have become exceedingly common at this last-mentioned period, is evident, from the great numbers of the captive Jews who were compelled by their Egyptian task-masters to prosecute the manufacture. It appears that the bricks then made were not artificially burned; the chopped straw which entered into their composition, and which served to hold the mass together, would, in such case, have been destroyed. Specimens of very ancient Egyptian bricks, which have been brought to this country, confirm the supposition that the heat of the sun was alone employed in baking them.
Many centuries later, the Romans conducted the manufacture of bricks with a great degree of perfection. A comparison of very ancient Roman ruins, with buildings of modern elevation, will show at once how superior are the bricks employed in the former, both as regards solidity and beauty. Specimens of the potter's art, if even any such existed at an equally early period, could not be expected to continue in being for so many ages : if, indeed, they had withstood the destroying hand of time, and descended to the present day, they would not bring with them any direct testimony of their date of production, and could throw little or no light upon the question of priority. It is certain, however, that, in very remote ages, the potter's art had attained to a considerable degree of usefulness, since the earliest authentic records allude to the potter's wheel as to an implement of then high antiquity.
The same wants would arise in different portions of the globe ; and in all cases, where similar means for their gratification presented themselves, it is not surprising that these means should be equally embraced by all. Accordingly, it has been found, in newly discovered countries, and among people comparatively rude and unacquainted with most of the arts which conduce to human convenience, that the use of earthen vessels has been enjoyed for ages before the existence of the people was even surmised. Among other proofs of this fact, it may be mentioned, that vases have been found among the aboriginal Indians on the Mosquito shore, which, even by those people, were preserved as memorials of antiquity. There is no reason to doubt that these vessels were the manufacture of the country in which they were found, as the remains of ancient potteries have been discovered at a considerable distance up the Black River on that coast.
There would be little advantage in entering upon an investigation to determine the precise degree of antiquity of the potter's art, if even there existed any sufficient guides to direct us in the enquiry. It will be more pro
fitable at once to forego all fanciful speculations, and to commence the relation of a few facts, and such only as bear the stamp of authenticity. The detail of these need not occupy much time or space, which may be more advantageously devoted to descriptions of the art as it exists in the present day, than to the building up of theories, the truth of which can never be demonstrated.
We learn, on the authority of Vitruvius, who wrote in the Augustan age, that the Romans then made their water-pipes of potter's clay. This people, who introduced a knowledge of the useful arts practised by themselves wherever their conquests were extended, established potteries in England, where, among other articles, similar water-pipes were made. Some of these, about a century ago, were dug up in Hyde Park. They were found to be two inches in thickness, and were firmly jointed together with mon mortar mixed with oil.
It has been asserted that the ancient Britons were in the practice of making pottery before the invasion of this country by the Romans; and in support of this belief is brought the fact, that urns of earthenware have been taken from barrows in different parts of the kingdom. On the other hand, the concurring testimony of various writers gives reason for supposing that our ancestors were in those days supplied with such articles by the Venetians. Vestiges of considerable Roman potteries are discernible in many parts of the island, and particularly in Staffordshire, on the site of the great potteries which have so long been carried on in that county. In sinking pits for various purposes, remains of Roman potteries have occasionally been discovered there at a considerable depth below the surface.
Governor Pownall relates, that in his time (1778) the men employed in fishing at the back of the Margate Sands, in the Queen's Channel, frequently drew up in their nets some coarse and rudely formed earthen vessels, and that it was common to find such pans in the cottages of these fishermen. It was for some time believed, that a Roman trading vessel, freighted with pottery, had been