For even more patriotic tableware fun, we’ve put together a terrific selection of assorted items from the Johnson Brothers Historic America pattern! This fabulous collection includes items like cup and saucer sets, tureens, dinner plates, kettles, pitchers, and much more. There are some excellent values here for striking tableware and accessory pieces!
Historic America is an iconic pattern that features a variety of distinctive American-themed tableaux like “The Alamo, Texas,” “View of Niagara Falls,” “San Francisco During the Gold Rush,” and many others. The pattern was produced in several different color schemes, including pink, blue, brown, and brown multicolor.
The practice of using American scenes to decorate tableware is almost as old as America itself. According to Jeanne Morgan Zarucchi in “Visions of America: Johnson Brothers Pottery in the US Market, 1872-2002,” American-themed scenes began appearing on Liverpool creamware around 1790. The decorative elements applied to tableware at that time were typically scenes of major American cities, and were based on extant engravings. However, these decorative patterns only occupied a small niche in England’s export market. From the early to mid-nineteenth century, most china exported to America from England was plain white granite ware. In order to appeal to the American consumer, many of these undecorated patterns were named for populous American cities, like “Savannah,” or popular figures, like “Franklin.”
In 1939, Johnson Brothers introduced the decorative Historic America pattern, partly in response to similar American-themed patterns produced at the time by other companies, such as Homer Laughlin’s Historical America and Vernon Kilns’ Our America. Producing patterns bound for export abroad, like Historic America, was also a way for Johnson Brothers to stay afloat during WWII (the manufacturing of ceramics for the domestic market was put on hold in England during WWII, but production of wares designed for export was allowed). The distinctive oak leaf and acorn border design of Historic America was modeled on a nineteenth-century design by Ralph Stevenson. Most of the different American scenes featured in the pattern were engraved by artist Claude Whittingham, and were based on previous engravings by Currier & Ives, many of which he updated with his own touches. In addition to updating these existing engravings, additional designs were added to reflect America’s expansion during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. These designs deviated from the traditional designs centered on landmarks and cityscapes to include American-centric themes like westward expansion (e.g., “The Mail and the Stage Coach,” and “Covered Wagons and the Rocky Mountains”). Historic America was a success upon its premiere in 1939, and was produced for 35 years, until 1974. Because of its popularity, a new version of the pattern was reintroduced in 2002.
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