On November 12, 2010 Ruth Ann Penka delivered her paper and presentation – the basis for this online resource – at the Annual CHAViC Conference “History Prints: Fact and Fiction” held in Worcester, Massachusetts. For more information on this conference, please visit the CHAViC website.

Participants in the conference were led to the AAS Council Room where the twenty-two pieces of Ridgway pottery were displayed alongside their corresponding prints and period maps. Penka provided a talk entitled “Beauties of America: The True Creation, Publication, and Distribution of Historical Imagery of American Cities by Staffordshire Potter John Ridgway, 1822” where she discussed landscape imagery on the Beauties of America dinner service. Her primary research relied heavily on collections at the American Antiquarian Society as well the rare, unpublished Ridgway journal, a manuscript Ridgway kept and Penka unearthed while on a Kinnicutt Fellowship in the United Kingdom.

The resulting discussion revealed how historical images of American cities were created, published and distributed to American consumers between the years 1790-1850. In search of new markets, especially after Great Britain’s defeat in the War of 1812, Staffordshire Potters located in the towns of Tunstall, Longport, Burslem, Cobridge, Hanley, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, Fenton and Longton, began to transfer American imagery onto their pottery to develop a market in the United States. Commonly, American images were copied by Staffordshire engravers from English and American engravings and lithographs issued in books, magazines, portfolios, commercial directories or as separately published prints.

Ms. Penka is in the process of cataloging the entire AAS collection of American View Staffordshire Pottery donated by Emma deForest Morse to the Society in 1913.

Penka presenting the pieces

plates and maps displayed
plates with corresponding views

photos by Abby Hutchinson

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