EUREKA! A Discovery of 18th century True Porcelain in Philadelphia and Other Tales of Ceramic Intrigue

Robert Hunter, Editor, Ceramics in America, Chipstone Foundation, Author and Archaeologist
Philadelphia Porcelain Bowl, ca. 1772
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The Western world’s quest for the secrets of making porcelain is usually told as a Eurocentric tale recounting the romanticized exploits of alchemist Johan Frederick Bottger under the patronage of Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and King of Poland. However, beginning in the 1730’s, the American South also became a hotbed of porcelain exploration, experimentation, and ultimately production. The search however, for physical evidence of making true porcelain in 18th century America has been frustratingly unsuccessful – until now. Revealed in public for the first time, a discovery of a porcelain punch bowl in Philadelphia's archaeological context provides new evidence for the American Arcanum. The lecture will highlight the stories of an international cast of characters such as Andrew Duche, James Oglethorpe, William Cookworthy, Thomas Frye, Josiah Wedgwood and many other familiar names in the annals of American and English ceramics history.