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The Dish Patch, Shakespeare Shape, Newsletter

The Dish Patch Newsletter on Homer Laughlin China, Shakespeare Shape written by Jo Cunningham and Darlene Nossaman.

Published by Robbins Nest.

Homer Laughlin and his brother Shakespeare Laughlin started the Ohio Valley Pottery, also known as Laughlin Brothers in 1873, with the first ware coming out of the kiln in 1874. Shakespeare was the potter, and Home ran the financial part of the pottery business. In 1877 Shakespeare sold his interest to Homer and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he began the process of building a pottery. On April 9, 1881, Shakespeare died quite unexpectedly of typhoid pneumonia at the age of 33 years. Homer mourned the loss of his brother and in 1884 the modelers at the Homer Laughlin China Company designed a shape named Shakespeare in honor of his brother.

The following quotation is from the July 13, 1884 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal:
”For the first time this reporter had the satisfaction of seeing a full set of the new shape at Homer Laughlin, several kilns of which have been drawn. It will be known to the trade under the classical name of “Shakespeare.” It is most difficult to convey a good idea. But we can say that it is neither round nor square, as they are popularly known. Not yet is it nondescript. In individual pieces like creams, sugars, vegetable dishes, etc. there is a rapid widening or swelling from a smaller base, and then gradual falling away again in graceful curves to the top of the piece. The impression it gives is decidedly antique. Another striking feature is the handles. The modeler is said to have gained his idea while thinking upon the matter and wrapping a string around his fingers in close coils. Our imagination pictured it in the shape of a scorpion’s or that of a lobster’s, only a little more corrugated. The set is very complete, there being two sizes of cups, and in other respects, it is just as abundantly provided. Designs were particularly adapted to it, and something handsome in decoration will also be brought out.”

July 30, 1885 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal:
“While visiting the Homer Laughlin Pottery in East Liverpool, Ohio, this reporter found the decorating department busy with new designs of decorated tea, dinnerware and toilet sets. Under the superintendency of Mr. Brocoff, some beautiful designs are being worked out for the “Shakespeare” shape. The styles range from the neatest of pretty prints to the daintiest of hand painted landscapes and life sketches, showing birds, fishes, full sized stags, etc.

December 24, 1885 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal:
“The popular Shakespeare dinnerware decorations of fine hand painted landscapes, birds, bees, butterflies, leaves, twigs and flowers work well, and are enjoying their share of popular sales.”

April 8, 1886 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal:
“Mr. Laughlin has gotten through several pretty new filled-in decorations for his Shakespeare dinnerware in white granite, which are the nature of little vine-like twigs, with very elegant flowers, all painted in subdued colors—nothing gaudy or loud, all neat, artistic and quiet.”Shakespeare ad in September 3, 1885 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal, page 16.

1985 shakespeare ad

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