By Joan Witt
In 1866 Thomas Starkey and Nathanial Simms built a two kiln stoneware plant on West Market Street (now Dresden Avenue). Mr. Starkey withdrew from the plant in 1868 and Homer Laughlin joined Mr. Simms. At that time the pottery was known as N. M. Simms and Company. When Homer Laughlin left the company Mr. Ferguson joined with Mr. Simms. By 1875 the plant was closed and sold at Sheriff's sale.
William Brunt, Jr. was the successful bidder and named the pottery the "Dresden Pottery Works". He planned to manufacture Ironstone China. Joining him in the company were his brother Henry Brunt, his brother-in -law, William Bloor, George Martin and Samuel Emery. The company became known as the "Brunt, Bloor, Martin & Company." Mr. Bloor was the first in the city to make whiteware back in 1861, so they continued with the whiteware. The First kiln of the ware was in February 1876. The company produced excellent white ironstone , gold decorated ware, table ware, tea sets, spittoons, toys and double -thick hotel ware. It was that year, that the company went into competition with other white ware manufacturers at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pa. Along with the other companies of the East Liverpool area, they received medal for excellence in production- -The "Highest Award and Diploma of Merit for white granite ware".
In 1876 the company was producing about 780 casks of ware and by the end of the decade they were producing 3000 casks yearly. The production increased each year until 1882 when a lock-out took place in the local potteries.
During the summer and fall of 1881, a lodge of "Knights of Labor" was organized in town. The pottery leaders were greatly opposed to this organization. in any of their potteries. The Boss Potters posted a resolution on the 17th day of June 1882, that members of the Knights of Labor would no longer be employed. This became a contest of boss potters against workers. The workers did not go to work and would not leave the Knights of Labor. Finally, the workers went back to work after 39 weeks when they signed the Manufacturers' "Iron Clad Agreement" which stated they would not belong to the Knights of Labor. The men lost this contest, but in the long run, the manufacturers also lost and the community was the biggest loser. Business and Real estate values suffered and the division of labor and management greatly widened.
Within a short time of the "Iron Clad Agreement" the owners of the Dresden Pottery Works sensed a change in the labor contracts and they decided to sell the pottery The company was sold to a group of workmen headed by H. A. McNicol. The potters purchased 3/4 interest in the plant and Mr. Emery kept the remaining 1/4 interest.
The pottery works now known as the "Potters Co-Operative Company" had capital stock of $50,000. The company started off with the most skilled labor force and ready markets for the ware. This company produced ironstone toilet sets, dinner ware, tea sets, hotel ware, and sanitary ware.
However, within a year there were some labor problems and decided unrest within the plant. Some of the workers were unhappy that they could not purchase shares in the company as was their understanding. Eventually the problem reached the courts. Even though the workmen owners had 1 share over two thirds of the stock of the company, they did not improve their position. Control of the company remained the same. The legal proceedings against certain members of the firm did not last long and H. A. McNicol continued in control. H. A. Keffer was secretary.
Some of the strongest stockholders disposed of their holdings and purchased another plant and organized the Standard Co -Operative Pottery.
On April 1, 1893 the Potters Co-Operative was gutted by a major fire, caused by a gas leak. Firemen fought vainly all night to save the pottery from total loss. Some houses along Basel Alley were in danger of the fire, so the home owners moved their belongings to other locations. The first estimates of the fire damages were $80,000. Approximately 100 workers were out of jobs. The owners planned to rebuild. They did rebuild and the plant continued to grow and expand along Dresden Avenue--even expanding to the other side of the street. In 1918 this was the third largest plant in the area with about 200 workers. In 1905 when the Burford Brothers Pottery closed on Smith Street, the Standard Pottery purchased it. After a short period of time it became the plant of the Potters Co-Operative.
The Potters' Co-Operative Company operated until 1925 when the owners decided to close for re-organization. It was then re-organized as the "Dresden Pottery Company" and was incorporated on the 10th of October in 1925 Harry McNicol , William Vodrey, A. P. McPherson, T. A. McNicol and Patrick McNicol issued 5000 shares of common stock in the company. The company manufactured semi-vitreous dinnerware, hotel china and plain and decorated specialty items.
This company lasted only two years when it discontinued business. Hall China Company used the part of the plant on the West side of Dresden Avenue as their plant #3 until 1938 when they moved to a new plant in the east end section of town. In 1938 the plant was sold and became the Pioneer Pottery Company. The plant has been owned and operated by the Lawrence Howell family and their daughter and son-in-law Arlene and William Bickle
Postcards printed early in the 1900's showed the bridge across West Market Street between the different parts of this pottery. At later times the bridge was used for advertising other businesses in East Liverpool.