This ancient pottery town is bustling with new book by collectors and historians Bill and Donna Gray.
“Amazing War Made in the East Liverpool Pottery District,” It features profiles of over 135 potters working in East Liverpool and Walesville, listed alphabetically, from Acme Craftware on page 1 to John Wylie & Son on page 425. It features color photographs of each potter, something no one else has attempted.
“The advantage of this book is that it is an illustrated history of pottery,” Susan Weaver, director of the East Liverpool Ceramic Museum. It is a comprehensive work. It’s great to see pictures of pottery products.”
“The Grays book is superb, with first class textual research on the various potteries,” Attorney Jackman S. Fodry, whose family roots go back to the local pottery industry. “Pictures of many, many individual pieces of tools are amazingly sharp and clear.”
Grays’ initial order was for 100 books, retailing for $112. Ninety-five copies were sold, donated, or given away, and an additional order of 24 copies was printed.
Reproductions have been donated to public libraries in East Liverpool and Wellsville, and are for sale from the Barnes and Noble Book Store or locally at the Ceramic Museum, the antique Pottery City Galleries shopping mall, or from the Grays themselves.
Bill and Donna Gray wrote in their dedication: “Potters mined clay, made kilns, designed and made moulds, fired their creations and decorated them splendidly . . . this book is for them and for their grandchildren. . . . . ”
Although comprehensive and detailed enough for collectors, “Amazing ware” Very entertaining with its tightly written history of pottery and stories about the characters of the early potters.
For example, the sons of John Godwin Sr. were desperate not to find the money they thought he had set aside before his death to refurbish Godwin’s pottery. They found $20,000 in government bonds inside his worn-out rocking chair when they re-upholstered it.
Donna said many people told them they couldn’t put the book down once they started reading.
William and Donna Gray married in 1991. She was a widowed teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Bell was originally from Wellsville, had been divorced, worked for Bell Atlantic (later Verizon) and worked in a convenience store, where they met.
She liked antique furniture and he liked bird watching and old pottery and he had about 10 pieces from Harker and Hall.
Honeymooners in Hilton Head, South Carolina, they purchased a gray Harker Pottery teapot from a thrift store in Moorehead, NC. They never guessed that they would eventually become the first collectors and experts at Harker Pottery Ware.
On a visit to Bale’s mother Dorothy in East Liverpool in 1996, they decided to “We wanted to move here, which is where the ceramics are.” They were directed by real estate agent Jan Dedel to a home the Fodry family had built. Didell sent them to see Charles Lang at First National Bank about a mortgage. After seeing the middle name Lang “Boys” Bill said on his desk, “We talked about pottery for two hours before we got to the finances.” The Boyce family was the principal owner of Harker Pottery.
bought the house (‘A great deal of faith’) and moved here in 1997, found work, and settled in the community while still buying Harker’s tools. (Retired years later as a sales representative at National Church Supply, after long service as a guidance counselor in schools in East Palestine.)
“We were just collecting Harker at that point,” Donna said. Their Harker collections totaled 12,000 pieces and filled the basement of an old Vodrey home as well as display boxes throughout the living space.
Wanting to share their knowledge of Harker’s tools, in 2006 they authored 224 trusted pages “Harker Pottery from Rockingham and Yellowware to Modern”, Printed by Schiffer Publishing, a book collecting company.
She possessed nothing more than humble means, there were many times “We ran out of money before the month was out,” Bill said. to support them “Usually Harker,” They became merchants as well as collectors.
Searching antiques stores and the Internet for Harker, they also found and sold items from other pottery in East Liverpool, and got to know other collectors, both locally and across the United States.
Even before moving here, they had met and been instructed on the ins and outs of collecting by local resident Louis Meyer, a source of knowledge about East Liverpool. It was the power behind what we did. . . ““We met the most amazing people who helped us a lot,” Donna said.
Prior to the publication of Harker’s book, Grays began collecting rare and beautiful tools from other East Liverpool pottery. It was around this time that Donna outlined the form that “Amazing ware” It will take the book.
They estimate their current collection at 14,000, which includes a large selection of precious and expensive lotus ware from Knowles, Taylor, and Knowles.
Grays acknowledges that the history of pottery in East Liverpool has been meticulously told in two earlier books: The Scientific Book “City of Hills and Furnaces” by Bill Gates, and a book about domestic manufacturers and their brands (background stamps) by Bill Gates and Dana Ormerod.
in the forefront of “Amazing ware,” They mention it “The purpose of this book is Component Three: Pictures of Actual Tools.”
In any book like this, lines should be drawn. The period covered is from 1838 to the early 1970s, and the potteries mentioned are only those working in East Liverpool and Wellsville. For the potters carried along the West Virginia side of the Ohio River, including Harker and Homer Laughlin, they said these stories are well told in other books.
Bill and Donna Gray are included in “Thanks and Appreciation” A list of the many individuals and organizations that provided information, allowed them to photograph their groups, and helped them in other ways.
The main help came from Don Jones, “Our teacher, photographic consultant, graphic artist, who…gave us much-needed technical support and we put this book together” Putting text and images in a digital program goes to the printer.
Bill and Donna Gray “I put a tremendous amount of time and energy into this book,” Susan Weaver said. She said they spent countless volunteer hours at the Ceramic Museum, often referring people to them for information on East Liverpool pottery. “They are the most generous people with their expertise I have ever seen. I cannot say enough good things about them.”
Solicitor Timothy Brooks, President of the East Liverpool Historical Society, said: “Bill and Donna Gray’s latest book shows their incredible dedication to telling the story of East Liverpool pottery from its unexpected beginnings to an industry that has given our city its distinctive character.
Their efforts in gathering the necessary information and putting it into one volume are not commendable.”