The Trenton Pottery Company, long since known as one of the first traditional potteries to come about, has been immortalized at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Though it is not currently on display, the Smithsonian’s website features a 1900 – 1920 salesman’s sample of a porcelain bathtub. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the epicenter of American ceramic manufacturing was in Trenton, New Jersey. According to www.potteriesoftrentonsociety.org, “The city was one of two major ceramic producing centers in the United States, rivaled only by East Liverpool, Ohio.”
It was at this point in time that American’s wanted a more neat and compact space to wash up. The Smithsonian’s website (www.si.edu) states: “Consumers now viewed tubs as plumbing fixtures rather than furniture, along with sinks and toilets. In providing recommendations for fixtures in this new room, advice manuals and sanitary specialists preached against the heavy, free standing tubs behind which dust and dirt could collect.”
The artifact seen on the Smithsonian’s website is a 5 1/16 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 5/8 in (or 12.85875 cm x 6.35 cm x 4.1275 cm) piece of porcelain which was designed as a small handheld version of a bathtub. It was commonplace during this period of time for door to door salesman (of different pottery firms) to carry around these figures in an effort to better market their products to consumers.
This specific display showcases the Trenton Pottery Company’s Trademark logo, which is stamped on its front side. Since the manufacturing process was one hundred percent done by hand at the time, one can see if they look carefully that the logo is a little off center. This adds to the historical value of the piece itself since most products manufactured today are done so by machines rather than by human hands.
For more information on this artifact please visit https://www.si.edu/object/1900-1920-salesmans-sample-porcelain-bathtub:nmah_581228 or if you would like more information on the Trenton Pottery Company/ Potteries of Trenton NJ Society please visit https://potteriesoftrentonsociety.org/about-us/.