- The first successful American porcelain manufactory in colonial times was the American China Manufactory, established in Philadelphia by Gousse Bonnin and George Anthony Morris in 1770. Bonnin and Morris sought out employees who were trained in European porcelain traditions and techniques to ensure high quality American porcelain ware. Bonnin and Morris created soft-paste porcelain by using clay from the Delaware River mixed with heated and oxidized crushed bones. The blue-and-white painted decoration referred to popular European chinoisserie; a decorative style that emerged in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries based on fanciful European interpretations and appropriations of traditional Chinese decoration.
- The American China Manufactory produced wares for elite patrons such as John Cadwalader, Thomas Wharton, and Deborah Franklin (Benjamin’s wife). The most ambitiously designed and the most expensive object was the American China Manufactory pickle stand. Only nineteen objects from the American China Manufactory survive today, and of those, six are pickle stands.
- Pickle stands, also known as sweetmeat stands, emerged in the mid-eighteenth-century with a new dining fashion, inspired by the French, of serving pickled fruits and vegetables with dessert. Manufactories in Europe, including Bow, Liverpool, Lowestoft, Plymouth, and Worcester, also produced porcelain pickle and sweetmeat stands.
- The use of the shell motif is appropriate to porcelain since the name itself has roots in the French and Italian words for “cowrie shell.” (French: pourcelaine; Italian: porcellana) The porcelain shells on the pickle stand produced by the American China Manufactory are probably molded from life; actual shells were used to create the porcelain molds. Molding from life is a technique that has been used throughout decorative art history and is especially known through the work of sixteenth century potter, Bernard Palissy. It is believed that more than seventy separate life-molds were used to create this pickle stand. In contrast, many of the shells on the European versions of the pickle stand are approximations, molded by hand.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- Dish, Sweetmeat
- stand, pickle
- date made
- Bonnin & Morris
- place made
- United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
- Physical Description
- monochrome, blue (overall surface decoration color name)
- ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
- overall: 5 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in; 13.97 cm x 19.05 cm
- overall: 5 1/4 in x 7 in; 13.335 cm x 17.78 cm
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Credit Line
- The Barra Foundation, Inc.
- See more items in
- Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.