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American Armed Forces Pottery

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American Armed Forces Pottery

Post  Ev on Wed 7 Apr - 7:59

The Auckland Museum has some handwritten notes written by Sherry Reynolds in June 1981.
They are an account from Frank J Leary - Lt Commander and Executive Officer at the Domain Camp
end of 1942 and 1943.

The pottery would have been made to US specs for the J.P.B. [Joint Purchasing Board]
who supplied the US Navy - including Marine Corps, and US Army.

Cups/Mugs - were like a thick tea cup - these had no handles and no saucers except in the Officers Mess.

Soup Bowls - were deep - lightish blue colour - not many dark blue - body was white/off white.
They may have had an insignia on them - USN with a circle around it.

When camps disbanded - some families may have been given the pottery or they may have been dumped - or used as replacements as they were made to standard specifications.

As these memories are from almost 40 years earlier, it was exciting to see a photo of an Armed Forces bowl and mug in the July 1966 issue of the New Zealand Ceramics magazine! The mug looked just like the very first NZR mugs.
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Are they vitrified or not?

Post  Jeremy Ashford on Wed 30 Jul - 15:45

I was delighted when I discovered that my white Paris ware was vitrified, and impressed by its greater durability than the earthenware equivalent from the same time. I am still to fix a definite date for it as there is no mention of vitrified Paris ware in anything I have read about Crown Lynn. I understand the work on developing a vitrified porcelain commenced with Tom Clark's wartime order for bowls and mugs the American Armed Forces stationed in the Pacific.

As much as I would love to have one I don't own an American Armed Forces bowl, and one of the reasons I have avoided buying some I have seen on trademe, other than the price, is that I'd like to get one without a lot of crazing.

There's the rub. I like vitrified china because it does not craze, at least that is my understanding and my experience (which of course is from collecting not potting).

So ... on page 17 of "A New Zealand Icon" (not in Sherry's notes above), Val writes that the American specification was for "vitrified porcelain".

At the antiques club a few years back someone whose name I now forget showed their collection of Royal Bayruth porcelain. One find that they were pleased with, as it had not been identified by the seller as Bayreuth and was thus a bargain price, was without doubt a Bayreuth shape, but had very noticeable areas of crazing, especially where the glaze pooled. I thought to myself this is a copy piece because it is not porcelain.

Questions to Ev, and others who know pottery better than I:

Does vitrified porcelain craze?

If so, is it, like the Bayreuth piece mentioned above, more likely where the glaze is thicker?

If so, then that would account for crazing on the American bowls as the glaze appears to be quite thick.

If vitrified porcelain does not craze, then it would appear that Tom Clark did not fulfil the Americans' specification.
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Re: American Armed Forces Pottery

Post  Ev on Wed 30 Jul - 21:13

I have an Army bowl and it is in a dark blue and I can't see any crazing on it.
Crazing occurs when the clay and the glaze don't 'fit' for many reasons. Yes if the glaze is too thick it may craze. What I find interesting is that Crown Lynn always had chemists whose job it was to test glazes and bodies etc. So why do we find some pieces with bad crazing and others that look perfect? I don't know and can't find an answer.
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Re: American Armed Forces Pottery

Post  Jeremy Ashford on Wed 30 Jul - 21:31

Ev, I was writing the bit below as an edit before your reply so I've made it a new reply. I have definitely seen some of these badly crazed, so I am pleased to hear yours is not.
------------
I've been reading up a bit on pottery types and firing temperatures. It's a bit tricky as some sites use words very loosely and I see porcelain sometimes used as a general descriptive term for pottery.

One site that seems pretty good is this one:
http://dmpottery.hubpages.com/hub/Buying-handmade-functional-pottery-How-to-seem-like-an-expert

So far I've learned that there are high- (1350-1400C) and low-fired (1200C) porcelains, and that the high-fired "hard paste" porcelains are unlikely to absorb water, but the "soft-paste" are more porous.

A surprise to me was a cause for crazing that I had not appreciated before. Generally the cause given is differential shrinking or heat shock but this one that rings true is that the porous ceramic types swell with moisture (over time) and that the glaze doesn't.

With reference to the American bowls, I could interpret these various bits of data to conclude that if they are indeed porcelain then they are more likely to be a low-fired type. The (very white) Paris pieces seem to me more likely to be hard paste.

Would anyone know anything about kiln temperatures at Ambrico in the 1940s?
------
Ev, I cannot remember if there is a pic of one of these on the forum and with the current difficulties it's a bit hard to find out. This topic would sure be a good place for a decent sized photo.

23/12/14
I found one at Havelock North today at a manageable price.
That's one more item off my wish list.

7/1/15
The Ambrico Navy Bowl appears to be a copy of an American one from Sterling of East Liverpool Ohio.
Sterling:
http://product-images.highwire.com/6494460/8439ceb0-d356-4136-86bd-c5bcd605e922_290.jpg


Last edited by Jeremy Ashford on Wed 7 Jan - 16:31; edited 2 times in total
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Re: American Armed Forces Pottery

Post  Ev on Thu 31 Jul - 7:00

Here is my Army bowl -
http://www.newzealandpottery.net/t891-ev-s-specials-department-us-army-bowl?highlight=army

As these bowls would have been one of the earliest made at Ambrico it is understandable that they may craze. I have made high fired porcelain which has crazed and yes I agree that Crown Lynn would have fired to the lower temps. The only temps that I have ever seen referred to in the records have been around 1180c
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Another CL/Ambrico copy?

Post  Jeremy Ashford on Wed 7 Jan - 16:53

After finding that the Ambrico US Armed Forces bowl was very similar to one produced by the Sterling China Co of East Liverpool Ohio (factory in Wellsville) I made a quick google search of the US company and I see that they were responsible for supplying most of the china for the US services in WWII.

I'm guessing the specification given to Tom Clark would have included an example of Sterling's work.

More on Sterling:
http://www.knoxnews.com/knoxville/life/china-meant-for-commercial-use

Example of a Sterling bowl:
http://product-images.highwire.com/6494460/8439ceb0-d356-4136-86bd-c5bcd605e922_290.jpg

I shall persevere to see if they also produced mugs of the type Ambrico produced.

(I do have my own Ambrico bowl, btw. The one I was bidding on on tm was for a friend.)
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Re: American Armed Forces Pottery

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