An American Pottery With An Interesting History
Clinchfield pottery is just one of the American produced potteries that can still be found in antique stores as well as resale shops. It's well collected, and value has increased over the past few years. Many of the pieces that were produced in the early years of the company are now considered to be antiques.
Clinchfield pottery has a long and very interesting history. The Clinchfield Ware company was started in 1917, with its first factory was located in the small town of Erwin, Tennessee The first pottery workers were hired from nearby Ohio. This is the main reason the workers were labeled the "Northern People" by the residents of Erwin. The Ohio craftsmen were responsible for training the Erwin residents in the art of making, and decorating pottery. Commercial production began in 1917 and was primarily revolved around producing simple dinnerware, with very simple patterns. Many of the first Clinchfield patterns were made with the use of molds, and applied decals, with evidence of sponging at the edges to adorn the pattern. The first patterns were kept simple for the beginning apprentices. The hand-painted items being produced in the first year were by the artists that had been imported from Ohio. The Ohio workers taught the art of hand-painting to the Erwin workers.
Hand Painting of pieces without the use of decals was Introduced In the late 1930s. An artist by the name of; Charles Foreman" was first to introduce a line of hand-painted items to the Clinchfield line. These pieces again were kept very simple, and minimal, usually displaying leaves or one or two colorful flowers. Many of the pieces were bordered not with sponging but a cleaner hand-painted line border. The pieces; were colorful and interesting, and became popular with the American housewife.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Clinchfield Pottery was one of the foremost producers of hand-painted china in the United States. After the Second World war ended in 1945, a gradual erosion began in overall production, due to escalating labor costs, competition from Japan, and the advent of plastic dinnerware. Clinchfield Potteries closed its doors in 1957, due to layoffs, reduced workweeks, and shareholders liquidating their stocks.
Today's Marketplace And Clinchfields Availability
While the products of the Clinchfield Pottery Company were never sought after by the affluent, the middle-class housewife well appreciates the colorful Clinchfield patterns and used them daily to serve their meals on. This is one reason the pieces one finds today may be well worn. There are many pieces left to be had on the open antique market. You may be lucky enough to find a piece of Clinchfield pottery pieces at garage sales or flea markets. The owner not knowing the history of Clinchfield pottery, may find it of little value and put a small price tag on it. Just not realizing that the old "Clinchfield pitcher" is truly a piece of America's history, and today is considered an antique.
Popular Shapes Of Clinchfield
Several different shapes of dinnerware were produced by Clinchfield (Southern Potteries.
Which would range from Skyline/Skyline Studioware (smooth and plain)- to Monticello (waffle border.) A few other were named: Candlewick (beaded), Clinchfield (wide-rimmed), Pie Crust (crimped pie edge), Colonial (fluted), Trellis (crosshatched border), Palisades (futuristic), Woodcrest (textured), Trailway (rope handled), and Astor (rim slightly cupped). Items like teapots and pitchers had their own different shapes.
With the many wonderful variations in shape, and foundations, along with famous patterns, Southern Potteries was able to keep up with the competition, and ever-changing fashions.
The Many Patterns Of Clinchfield Pottery
Patterns, Patterns, And More Patterns
The question is, "How many patterns were made?" At one time, Southern Potteries carried over 400 patterns. It is estimated that Southern Potteries produced thousands of different patterns, over a whopping 5,000 different patterns have been accounted for as of yet. And in most patterns, one can find variation in each. Due to most of the files and records of Southern Potteries having been lost or scattered to the hills, it is impossible to actually come up with an accurate count of just how many patterns were produced.
Southern Potteries didn't name most of their patterns. Patterns were named at times named by the actual client that was purchasing the line of china. Southern Potteries never even issued a product catalog. The fact is most of the Blue Ridge patterns fell into a haphazard numbering system.
Naming patterns are know left in the hands of Collectors. Collectors have taken on the role of naming the multitudes of unnamed Clinchfield patterns. This leaves it very hard to determine one pattern from another? Even books on the subject are shown to call one pattern one name, and another collector's book may call the same pattern by a totally different name.
Mark Most Commonly Used 1917-1923
Years 1917-1920, Southern Potteries used the name Clinchfield Pottery, several different pottery marks were used during this period of decal-decorated wares. Such as the hallmark of black Clinchfield, Hand-painted, Erwin Tenn." this was one of the early marks. Later in 1920 the Clinchfield Crown back stamp was more commonly used. The Clinchfield hallmarks varied in the early years. The words "Clinchfield, Hand-painted, Erwin Tenn." was one of the early marks. Later in 1920 -1938 the Clinchfield Crown back stamp was more commonly used. In 1920 the official name was changed from Clinchfield to Southern Potteries when a corporation charter was obtained and $500.000 in stock was sold to the public.
Southern Potteries. introduced the name "Blue Ridge" in 1932-33. There are many different versions of the "Blue Ridge" logo, to be genuine they must include the name Southern Potteries Inc. or the initials. However, it is also obvious that many of the items produced throughout Clinchfield expansive history bore no mark at all. The mark "Blue Ridge China" dates an item to being made after 1945. Due to the fact Southern Potteries didn't introduce Chinaware to its line, until 1945. Also look for the words "oven safe" this was added to the mark in the 1950s.
Just Curious ...
I hope you enjoyed your visit... Please leave me a word or two
Sharlee (author) on August 02, 2020:
Thank you for your information.
Jon Webb on August 02, 2020:
Clinchfield Artware is not the same thing as Clinchfield China. Clinchfield China became Blue Ridge China. Clinchfield Artware is also known as Cash Family China and was produced from 1945 until sometime in the 1980s and although Cash bought molds from Blue Ridge they are not the same company.
Sharon Bivins on January 31, 2020:
My pitcher only has “Handpainted Erwin Tenn” and still has the Stuckeys price sticker on the bottom. My guess is this may be a Charles Foreman piece, the rims are definitely not sponged, more like dry brushed. What caught my eye on this piece are ALL the imperfections in the clay, bumps galore, broke bubble hole and as if the pour spout inside had been done by the thumb. I have seen so many of these pieces along my travels but none as unique as this light green flowers and beautiful leaves.
Sharon Martin on January 25, 2020:
Hello, I finally realized I could look up this company on the web! I have a piece of pottery (cream with amber color painted flower and laces on ladies boot) that my aunt gave me in 1970. The markings on bottom do not seem to match ones listed here. it says Clinchfield Artware Pottery and below it Erwin, Tenn. I am curious about it. my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. feel free to respond whether this "boot" means anything or not. Thank you so much. also, she traveled to Lex Ky from and to Florida for years in the fifties so may have picked this up in Tennessee.
Laura on November 23, 2019:
Hi! I gave my mom a Clinchfield pitcher a number of years ago and we were wondering when it might have been made. the printed stamp on the back small- CLINCHFIELD ARTWARE is the first line. HANDPAINTED is second line. ERWIM, TEMM. is third line. I typed it out exactly because the n's of Erwin and Tenn. are all M's. which seems odd! any info would be so appreciated. thanks!
Allison McCall on October 18, 2019:
Was cleaning out a family storage unit and found this piece cannot find any history on il other than it is Clinchfield It is a creamer or milk older and it is shaped like a chicken it’s a little chick in the mouth is where you pour the milk out
don mckelvey on July 18, 2019:
I have a plate with a decal that includes flowers, horseshoe, Lady Luck and swastikas.
Back has Clinchfield crown stamp and below that 11-26.
Is November 1926 the date of manufacture?
Enjoyed reading about Clinchfield China.
Sharlee (author) on July 06, 2019:
Hi Mary, that pitcher was produced in 1945, and s worth about $110.00. Depending on condition. You have a wonderful piece of Clinchfield that is well sought after. The mark should read -
Mary Dawson on July 06, 2019:
Hi, I have a cobalt blue cow pitcher in perfect shape with a mark on the bottom that is identical to the top line second from the left mark in your compilation, but without the rectangular outline. Can you offer any guidance as to the age of our piece and perhaps it's value? thank you,
Brenda Webb on June 25, 2019:
I have a pie crust type bowl, aged and well used, I wonder if it has any value, but I appreciate all early stoneware and love to read their history-has Clinchfield on bottom no. 11-28 also
Ruby Asher on February 04, 2019:
I have a clinchfeld piece I would like to find out more info about it thank you