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NC Pottery Center features historical pottery of Fayetteville exhibit

Posted on 07/28/09

Contact:  Bruce Daws

The North Carolina Pottery Center in partnership with the Fayetteville Transportation and Local History Museum will be opening an exhibition featuring "Historical Pottery of Fayetteville." Fayetteville has a limited but unique pottery tradition, as the Coastal Plain was not the best area for establishing a pottery manufacturing operation. The Piedmont and Mountain regions were the favored sites for North Carolina's strong pottery production. The City of Fayetteville, with its early colonial beginnings, can claim only three known pottery manufacturers.

Gurdon Robins, a native of Hartford Connecticut, in partnership with his brother-in-law Timothy Savage, established a general store in Fayetteville in 1816. A decision was made to begin manufacturing their own pottery rather than importing it. Edward Webster, a skilled potter from Hartford, was recruited in 1819 to construct a kiln and direct the pottery operation. He was later joined by his brothers Chester and Timothy. The Webster brothers most likely received their training as potters in the business of Goodwin & Webster in Hartford, and brought to Fayetteville the Connecticut tradition. Although Gurdon Robins' business failed in 1823, it has the distinction of being the first structured salt-glaze stoneware operation in North Carolina. Edward Webster engaged in his own pottery manufacturing business in Fayetteville, which remained in operation until at least 1838.

The exhibit will feature examples of pottery produced by Goodwin & Webster in Hartford that reflect that strong Connecticut tradition of stoneware which was brought to Fayetteville by the Websters. These pieces of pottery can be compared to those produced by the Websters in Fayetteville, and later in Randolph County. For many years unmarked pottery produced by the Websters with incised birds, fish, floral, and other decorations were attributed to the unknown "Bird and Fish" potter. Patrons will have the ability to view an impressive collection of this work. Also, information will be available on ordering Quincy Scarborough's recently published book, "North Carolina Decorated Stoneware: the Webster School of Folk Potters."

The only other pottery operation in Fayetteville was established in 1880 by Edgar Allan Poe (not the Poet). The pottery operation was a sideline to his main business which involved the manufacturing of bricks and other building supplies. Poe was not a potter and had to recruit two experienced turners from Moore County; Manley W. Owen and William H. Hancock. For a period of almost 20 years, Poe Pottery produced a wide range of utilitarian pottery. The exhibit features many unique pieces of stamped Poe Pottery which reflect the Moore County tradition. This pottery can be compared with pottery produced by Owen and Hancock while they were engaged in business for themselves.

This new exhibit opens on August 11th at 10a.m. in Gallery I & II at the North Carolina Pottery Center, 233 East Avenue, Seagrove North Carolina. On August 14th between 5:30-7:30p.m., there will be a FREE  reception featuring local Seagrove potters, David and Deborah Garner, from Turn and Burn Pottery. David and Deborah Garner will be displaying and selling their reproductions of the "Webster Tradition" pottery (shown in Gallery III). The reception will also feature a talk by guest speaker Professor Charles G. (Terry) Zug III, renowned author and highly respected expert in the field of North Carolina pottery.

This exhibition has been made possible by the generosity, of private collectors willing to share both their knowledge and rare examples of North Carolina pottery.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove, NC. For more information, please call 336.873.8430 or go to www.ncpotterycenter.com.

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