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Objects from the Collection:
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pitcher 26.34 pitcher 37.454.77
pitcher 26.34 pitcher 84.46.2
plate 37.454.128 plate 37.454.97
plate 82.22.1 bowl 84.46.1

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American Historical Views on Staffordshire and Liverpool Pottery: The Erie Canal

The British potters of both the Liverpool and Staffordshire regions enjoyed a lucrative trade with America both before and immediately following the Revolutionary War. However, in the early 1800s, hostilities in Europe, trade embargoes, and the War of 1812 dramatically impacted trade between Britain and the United States. Following the end of the War of 1812 and hostilities in Europe, British potters were anxious to resume trade with the American market. Patriotic feelings in America were so high that British potters were convinced that any ceramic wares depicting American scenes, patriot's portraits, and other designs would appeal to the American consumer's growing national pride. Many of the American views found on the British pottery of this period were produced from an illustrated book entitled The Beauties of America. English tourists also brought back sketches of the wonders that they saw in America, and these too were copied and adapted for use on plates, bowls, and pitchers. In many cases, the potters themselves went to the expense of sending someone to America just to bring back drawings and paintings of the latest architectural achievements, new monuments, and scenic wonders. The most recent innovations in transportation were also appealing decorations for the transfer-printed wares produced by the British potters. Scenes from throughout New York State were prominent in the pottery produced by the British potteries, including views of the Erie Canal.

When it officially opened on 26 October 1825, the Erie Canal was acclaimed as the greatest engineering marvel in the world and was referred to by many as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The sheer scale of the accomplishment awed visitors from far and wide. The 363-mile long canal connected the Hudson River (and by extension, New York City) with the Great Lakes. Because of it, cities like Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse grew instantly out of the wilderness. The canal linked New York City to what was a 2,000-mile waterway that extended from the western shores of Lake Superior to the gulf of the St. Lawrence River. Shipping time between Buffalo and New York City was cut by more than half (from 20 to 8 days) and shipping costs were reduced by as much as 94 percent. Canals throughout the east coast of the United States fueled the explosive growth of the country for 50 years after the opening of the Erie Canal. For the dissemination of people, ideas, goods and American nationalism, as well as a model for most subsequent canals, the Erie Canal stands alone in the first half of the nineteenth century.

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