Abstract The manufacture of domestic pottery in Scotland was an important industry producing vast quantities of wares for both the home and export markets. The industry reached its height in the nineteenth century, the era that saw the inception of international exhibitions and the establishment of industrial museums. Over recent decades Scottish pottery has been collected by both museums and individual collectors and research in the field of material culture has uncovered the history of this significant industry. This paper will examine nineteenth-century attitudes to contemporary collecting of Scottish pottery, focusing on two of the institutions which eventually came to be absorbed into National Museums Scotland – the Industrial Museum of Scotland and its successor the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art. Looking at the relationship between pottery manufacturers and these institutions will show how nineteenth-century perceptions of Scottish pottery were influenced by ideas of identity, art and education. National Museums Scotland (nms) has an important collection of industrial ceramics representing over twenty-five potteries that populated the Scottish landscape during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection includes a range of examples of domestic wares which were produced by these centres as a result of an increasing demand for household ceramics. These pieces effectively document both the histories of individual potteries and the techniques used to create and decorate their products. Sherds excavated from other production sites also form part of the collection and have proved invaluable in identifying patterns and making connections with particular potteries.1 Research carried out over the last few decades has greatly improved the body of knowledge, developing the story of a significant industry. This article will attempt to shed light on a different aspect of Scottish pottery by placing the collection at nms in context and examining the relationship between museum collecting and the pottery industry during the nineteenth century. Like Staffordshire, a region famous for its potteries, Scotland had the raw materials required for producing ceramics, making it a logical place to establish industrial potteries. The regions of the Forth and Clyde also provided ready access to shipping for the transfer of finished goods. The industry would prove a far-reaching commercial endeavour, with large quantities of earthenware and stoneware exported worldwide. The trade to North America and Southeast Asia has been particularly well documented and many surviving examples of the wares produced for these markets are held in museum collections.2 Representatives from centres such as the Alloa Pottery travelled to international exhibitions where they exhibited their wares and on occasion were awarded medals for their contributions.3 Despite these successes, however, the industry remains partly obscured from view by a series of difficulties. The history of Scottish industrial pottery is complex due to the rise and fall of pottery owners around the country. New partnerships were continually forged, businesses were declared bankrupt or were bought out by competitors. Management positions were often passed down from generation to generation, and profitable marriages and family alliances occasionally led to mergers. Most pottery sites therefore have a variety of names associated with them through the nineteenth century, while the identification of ceramics is often a challenge as products were not always marked by the firms that produced them. While some companies – particularly in the later nineteenth century – did impress or stamp the name of the pottery on their goods, many omitted to do so, especially with their lower-end products. Rivalry between factories to produce the most cost-effective yet popular designs led to the production of the same patterns and styles by many different Scottish and Staffordshire potteries. Moulds and printing plates were sold off when a business closed or went bankrupt – a fairly frequent occurrence – meaning that any one piece could have been manufactured by more than one pottery.4 An engraver could also copy patterns for the popular transfer-printed wares, although there are often differences in the quality of the printed design. Examples of this include the ‘Oriental’ pattern as shown in Fig. 1, produced with small differences by at least three Scottish potteries and two English manufacturers. Pratt ware is another area in which origin can be particularly difficult to ascertain: this type of moulded and colourfully glazed creamware is closely associated with the Staffordshire potteries but has also been linked to kilns on the east coast of Scotland.5 Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide Soup plate with transfer-printed ‘Oriental’ pattern by David Lockhart & Co., Glasgow, c.1880s © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide Soup plate with transfer-printed ‘Oriental’ pattern by David Lockhart & Co., Glasgow, c.1880s © National Museums Scotland. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of this subject is the apparent lack of documentary evidence for many of the potteries. As previously mentioned, businesses often failed and their records were not retained. Unlike other industries, surviving catalogues of wares are few and researchers are left to delve into newspaper articles, family papers, and catalogues from events such as the international exhibitions. Legal records may indicate the change of hands for a pottery or give details of its sequestration, but the products are seldom discussed in any great detail. While merchant records and shipping registers can give indications of the quantities of pottery produced and allow us to determine the destination of the products, the descriptions of the ceramics themselves are again of a basic nature.6 Although many avenues of archival research remain to be explored, the present article will focus its attention on the objects that have been part of nms collections for over 100 years. Now curators at nms carefully collect and develop the Scottish pottery collection, investing time and energy in building up an accurate representation of this industry. However, during the nineteenth century when the industry was at its peak, very few pieces of contemporary Scottish wares were collected while English and European ceramics were actively pursued. The reasons behind this are tied up with institutional history, Scottish identity and Victorian ideas of art, industry and education. Institutional history National Museums Scotland emerged from two major institutions resulting in an amalgamation of different collections. These institutions were the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (nmas) and the Royal Scottish Museum (rsm), which merged in 1985.7 For the purposes of this article, however, attention will be focused on the collection of the rsm and its predecessors. The nmas, which developed from the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, emphasized archaeological and Scottish historical collections. The rsm, on the other hand, evolved out of the institution known initially as the Industrial Museum of Scotland and later renamed the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art. The latter two institutions will be examined in detail below, but it should be noted that they continued to have a different collecting focus from nmas throughout the period under consideration, avoiding direct competition for acquisitions and duplication of their collections. The nineteenth century was an important era for international exhibitions and for the subsequent development of museums of industry and art. These institutions were born out of the idea that production of industrial goods would be enhanced by education of the work force. In the aftermath of the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, the administrative Department of Science and Art was formed with responsibility for the Museum of Ornamental Art, from which eventually emerged the South Kensington Museum.8 In 1847 the Museum of Irish Industry was established in Dublin and pressure mounted for a similar institution to be founded in Edinburgh.9 Calls for a National Museum had been made by several dedicated individuals since the 1830s and eventually in 1854 the Industrial Museum of Scotland was established by the Department of Science and Art.10 The first director of the museum was George Wilson (1855–1859), Professor of Technology at Edinburgh University. Wilson was passionate about educating the public in the field of industry and avidly collected for the new museum. His aim was to display industrial material which would instruct and advance manufacturing and the ‘useful arts’. In order to fulfil this goal he collected examples of manufacturing processes in industries ranging from glass making to pen making. He was fascinated by the relationships between different industries and the potential for knowledge exchange between them. The pottery industry fell into Wilson’s collecting remit and in 1856 he collected a range of raw materials and partly finished products from the Port Dundas pottery to illustrate the manufacture of stoneware.11 Wilson made connections with people wherever he could and made no apologies for what he called ‘begging’ for his beloved museum.12 In 1856 the management of Port Dundas was taken over by James Miller, who began to make improvements to production, mechanizing the works, adapting the glazes used and enlarging the range of products made for both home and overseas markets.13 These improvements are likely to have caught the attention of Wilson, although no record survives to indicate why he specifically chose Port Dundas. While the material he collected from Port Dundas was wide ranging it formed only a small proportion compared to that acquired from the Wedgwood factory in Staffordshire in the same year: twenty-eight objects were acquired from Port Dundas in that year, while the raw materials and unfinished pieces of Wedgwood numbered around 690. An extensive amount of Wedgwood pottery both old and new would be continually collected throughout the next few decades as tokens of British achievement in ceramics. A collection of forty-two brick and tile samples acquired from David Methven’s Links Pottery in Kirkcaldy are referred to in the 1857 register as ‘models to a small scale’. The implication here is that these were samples of full scale products, perhaps used by the pottery for marketing or exhibiting their wares. These samples include a variety of pipes, tiles, flowerpots and a chicken feeder, but none of the domestic pottery which was also produced at the Links Pottery. An Ordnance Survey map dating from 1856 shows the presence of both aspects of the pottery, with workshops for white ware on one half of the site and the other dedicated to brick making.14 Despite this, Wilson deliberately chose to focus on the brick and tile aspect of the pottery rather than the domestic wares, in keeping with his desire to document as many different manufacturing processes as possible. Wilson was eager to collect from Scottish industries, but this was in no way exclusive and neither did it have a direct impact on his collecting. His motivation to foster improvement in the useful arts meant collecting from a wide range of sources across Britain. This is evident in a letter published in 1857 in the Scotsman in which Wilson boasts that the pottery, brick and tile works represented in the collection hailed from Kirkcaldy, Glasgow, London, Canonbie and Newcastle.15 These were British industries not specific to Scotland and for Wilson it was important that this should be reflected in the museum collection. Collecting at the Industrial Museum of Scotland was also governed by Department of Science and Art, and therefore linked to the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum). A large group of objects from South Kensington, including 378 ceramics, was transferred to the Scottish museum in 1856, the majority of either English or mainland European manufacture. Wilson also had the opportunity to select items from the Commissioners of the 1851 international exhibition; those he selected he believed to be most relevant to an industrial museum rather than an art or design museum. According to the museum registers none of the acquisitions from either of these sources were of Scottish manufacture. Wilson suffered from poor health and died after four years in post, leading to a change in the museum’s collecting policy. In 1860 the Department of Science and Art appointed Dr Thomas Archer as the new director and in 1864 the museum was renamed the Edinburgh Museum of Art and Science. Over time Archer (in post 1860–85) gradually moved away from the style of collecting that had defined the early years of the museum, with more emphasis being placed on collecting complete items rather than representing the manufacturing process.16 Archer, however, was no less diligent in obtaining new objects for the collection and made a tour of English industries to this end. In a report published in the Caledonian Mercury in 1865 he wrote: My journeys this year through the manufacturing districts of England have been very successful having resulted in the acquisition of about 2,000 specimens given freely to the museum.17 There is no mention of similar visits to Scottish industries, despite their prevalence throughout the central belt of the country. In 1869 an account of industry in Scotland was published in which twenty-eight different industries were identified and discussed, complete with an estimate of the numbers of people employed. For example the author identified fourteen potteries operating in Scotland employing upwards of 5,000 people – a relatively small industry in comparison to the 22,000 iron workers employed in furnaces across the country at the time.18 By focusing on manufacture in England, Archer chose to overlook these Scottish industries. Despite the focus on English and European ceramics apparent from the writings of the museum directors and their contemporaries, the history of acquisitions in this area reveals some trends which can be a useful in understanding collecting patterns. A close examination of the collections in conjunction with the museum accession registers shows exactly which varieties of Scottish pottery were collected during the period and study of these reveals which factors influenced collecting. These influences include ideas of identity, geography and the perception of the pottery industry in Scotland. The Royal Scottish Museum registers The original registers of the rsm dating from 1855 to 1898 – nine volumes in total – form the basis for this research into collecting; the information is also available on the museum’s collections database. The volumes list basic details of each object registered into the collection including year of entry, registration number, description, method of acquisition and source. In order to focus on complete pieces of domestic Scottish pottery, the early acquisitions from Port Dundas and Methven’s Links Pottery have been excluded. This approach will present a clearer indication of collecting patterns during the remainder of the nineteenth century. Handmade Barvas ware from the Isle of Lewis (of which eleven examples were collected) has also been excluded in order to focus on the industrial production of Scottish pottery. With the exclusion of the Port Dundas collection acquired by Wilson, the records show that the first piece of industrial Scottish pottery was not acquired until 1864, when the museum purchased a pair of large candelabra directly from Messrs J. & M. P. Bell.19 This was the first of only three complete pieces acquired directly from the maker in the second half of the nineteenth century. Taking 1864 as the starting point, the records show that a total of sixty-eight pieces of Scottish pottery were collected between this date and 1897. Acquisitions were fairly spread out, particularly during the 1860s and 1870s. The Bells’ candelabra were followed three years later in 1867 when two mugs made by William Littler of West Pans c.1770 were donated by an Archibald Hepburn of Hereford. Two years elapsed before the next acquisition was made in 1869. Fig. 2 reveals a spike in the collecting of Scottish pottery in 1878, the result of a single donation of twenty-nine pieces of contemporary Dunmore pottery given to the museum by the pottery owner, Peter Gardner. It follows a similar donation by W. & J. A. Bailey, the owners of Alloa Pottery, given to the museum a few years earlier. Further analysis of these two donations made in the 1870s will follow, but some overarching patterns first need to be identified. Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide Examples of pottery by date of production, collected between 1867 and 1898. © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide Examples of pottery by date of production, collected between 1867 and 1898. © National Museums Scotland. Production dates An analysis of all the Scottish pottery collected by the museum in the nineteenth century shows that if there was any intentional focus in collecting it was on products manufactured by the earlier industrial potteries. While the majority of the collecting took place after 1884, nearly all the pieces concerned date from the period between the late 1700s and approximately 1830. It should be noted that some of the earlier pieces – particularly those from Prestonpans – may actually have been made in Staffordshire, but due to the similarities in fabric and lack of makers’ marks this attribution currently remains inconclusive.20 What is important for this study is that nineteenth-century museum curators collected these pieces as Scottish pottery and recorded them as such. Fig. 2 is broken down further into three fifty-year periods between 1750 and 1900, showing the number of pieces dating from each period. The pottery dating from the earliest of these three phases includes the two mugs from West Pans highlighted above, a fishwife figure made at Portobello and collected in 1877 (Fig. 3) and a variety of objects recorded as being made in Prestonpans. Nine objects in total date from this earlier period while twenty-five date from around 1800 to 1850. The majority of these pieces most likely date closer to 1800, but as mentioned previously any narrowing of the dates for these objects can be difficult. Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide Figure of a fishwife, Portobello, eighteenth-century. © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide Figure of a fishwife, Portobello, eighteenth-century. © National Museums Scotland. Acquisition method Another important factor in understanding this collection is the method by which the objects were acquired, i.e. whether through purchase or by donation. The purchase of the pair of candelabra from the Bells’ pottery in 1864 stands out as an unusual acquisition when examining the registers, for another purchase of Scottish pottery was not made until 1884. Prior to this date the way that Scottish pottery entered the collection was chiefly by donation. As outlined above, the two mugs from West Pans acquired in 1867 were a donation; this was followed in 1869 by the donation of a tea-set by John Veitch of Edinburgh. The tea-set is attributed to the Stockbridge Pottery, a business of which relatively little is currently known. The three acquisitions of Scottish pottery in the 1870s were all gifts to the museum, one from an individual and two from manufacturers. Acquisitions were made with increasing frequency after 1881. It was after this date that there was a transition from acquisitions which arrived as gifts to purchases made by the museum from antique dealers and china merchants. The names of three vendors appear repeatedly in the registers, all based in central Edinburgh: William Campbell, an antique and modern furniture dealer, Johnston & Co., china and glass merchants, and J. & R. Wilson, china merchants. These names appear next to purchases of a variety of decorative arts and ethnographic material acquired in the late nineteenth century, demonstrating that the museum was actively purchasing objects from these sources on a regular basis. This shift in acquisition method could indicate that the late 1800s saw the emergence of a more considered approach to collecting. If this is the case then Scottish pottery, although still a minor collecting area, did form part of this deliberate approach. The purchasing of items from antique dealers, rather than directly from manufacturers, also shows a move away from the direct approach to industries pursued by both Wilson and Archer. Geographical influences A final trend to note from the data is the geographical influence on the museum’s collecting of Scottish ceramics. Not all pieces were attributed to a particular pottery: five are listed simply as ‘Scottish’. Of the remainder, all but three items were produced by East Coast potteries, i.e. those in close proximity to Edinburgh. To the east of Edinburgh this includes Portobello, Musselburgh, Prestonpans and West Pans. Across the Forth, three objects from Gallatown Pottery and Abbotshall Pottery in Fife were collected in the years 1891, 1893 and 1897.21 Dunmore Pottery and Alloa Pottery were both to the west of Edinburgh. Aside from the acquisition of the Bells’ candelabra only one other piece was acquired from a Glasgow pottery: the salt crock illustrated in Fig. 4, collected in 1894, was produced by the Caledonian Pottery in Glasgow. It is decorated with fictional Scottish characters from the works of Robert Burns – Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnny. Fig. 4. View largeDownload slide Stoneware salt crock, Caledonian Pottery, Glasgow, c.1850. © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 4. View largeDownload slide Stoneware salt crock, Caledonian Pottery, Glasgow, c.1850. © National Museums Scotland. Whether this was an intentional approach or not, it is clear that the museum placed more emphasis on collecting from potteries which had operated in the regions of the east coast and around Edinburgh. With the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888 and the subsequent creation of the Kelvingrove Museum, it is possible that the museum left collecting from this area to Glasgow. In a report on local museums in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1888 Stirling, Berwick and Paisley were the only museums recorded as housing art and industry collections.22 Paisley Museum, established in 1871, most certainly collected ceramics: in 1912 it was chosen by the owners of the Bells’ pottery in Glasgow as the home for a collection of seventy-eight pieces of pottery, many of which had been shown by J. & M. P. Bell at the Great Exhibition in 1851.23 Awareness of this activity may have influenced collecting at the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art but it seems unusual – certainly by today’s standards – for a museum established on the premise of forming a national institution for Scotland not to collect at least a sample of pottery products from across the country. Acquisitions from manufacturers The museum acquired pieces of contemporary pottery from J. & M. P. Bell, W. & J. A. Bailey and Peter Gardner in the years 1864, 1872 and 1878 respectively. These acquisitions from manufacturers are the only examples of their type throughout the remainder of the century and as such deserve particular consideration here. J. & M. P. Bell, founded by John and Matthew Perston Bell in 1841, was the largest Scottish pottery operating in the nineteenth century and was well respected for the quality of its wares. Bells’ were the only Scottish exhibitors in the pottery section at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and they ran a successful export business designing and producing earthenware for markets in North America and Southeast Asia.24 While many examples of the Bells’ pottery are preserved in museum collections across Scotland, it is unfortunate that the candelabra purchased by the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art in 1864 were disposed of from the museum collection in 1935. It is therefore necessary to rely on the description in the registers to understand the significance of these objects. The candelabra were made of ‘ironstone porcelain’ and measured 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) in height, indicating that these were impressive pieces intended as show items. The note of disposal describes a column made of seven parts surmounted by a glass globe with an ornamental spike. As yet no mention of these (evidently spectacular) candelabra has been found in other sources, although it seems clear from the description that they were not everyday objects. A connection could be made to the London International Exhibition of 1862 – two years before the purchase of the items. Bells’ exhibited at the event, but the catalogue merely states that they displayed ‘porcelain, earthenware, parian and terra cotta’.25 It is certain, however, that as director of the museum Archer actively sought to collect from international exhibitions as well as directly from industries as outlined above.26 Assuming these candelabra were as spectacular as the description implies then it would have made sense for Archer to pursue them as a purchase for the museum collection. If this was the case then the motivation behind this acquisition differed from the two donations by Scottish manufacturers made to the museum in 1870s. In 1872 W. & J. A. Bailey of Alloa Pottery donated a tea-set in their ‘Rustic’ pattern, including a teapot, jug and sugar-bowl (Fig. 5), and in 1878 Peter Gardner of Dunmore Pottery donated twenty-nine examples of his work to the museum. Alloa Pottery had been bought from the Gardner family in the 1850s by James Bailey, an Edinburgh glass and china merchant. Bailey managed the pottery and passed it on to his sons who brought in improved machinery in order to advance production. The pottery was active in advertising and boasted a stock of 10,000 teapots ready to sell. Their advertisements also showed off medals awarded at international exhibitions in Paris in 1875 and Philadelphia in 1876.27 The Baileys were entrepreneurs, driving their business forward in a commercially competitive environment. Fig. 5. View largeDownload slide Tea-set in ‘Rustic’ pattern, Alloa Pottery, 1872. © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 5. View largeDownload slide Tea-set in ‘Rustic’ pattern, Alloa Pottery, 1872. © National Museums Scotland. Particularly significant is the registration in the same year of the company’s ‘Rustic’ design, protecting it from being copied and reproduced by others. According to research carried out into the registered design archives, the Baileys were the most active manufacturer registering designs in the category of Scottish pottery between 1867 and 1873.28 The Belfield Pottery in Prestonpans was also registering its designs at this time, some of which are remarkably similar in style to the ceramics produced by Alloa Pottery. Given their prolific attempts to promote their designs and advertise their wares, it seems plausible that the Baileys were eager to have their designs documented in the collection of the museum, so potentially they may have initiated the acquisition. The entry in the register for this donation interestingly gives some additional information on the clay composition of the tea-set: the piece is said to have been ‘Manufactured of ⅔ native and ⅓ Devon clay’, demonstrating the use of both local and imported raw materials in the production process. As mentioned above, Alloa Pottery had been purchased from the bankrupt William Gardner, although there is some evidence that William continued working at the pottery under the new management. William was from a pottery family which had been working in Alloa since the late eighteenth century. Notably he was the cousin of Peter Gardner, who also carried on the pottery tradition and launched Dunmore Pottery nearby in 1866, in direct competition with the Baileys. Partnerships and marriages between pottery owners were common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, leading to a complex structure of alliances both regionally and nationally. It is not unusual therefore that Peter Gardner had a connection to the rival Alloa Pottery, although it is noteworthy that a few years after the Baileys made their presentation to the museum, Gardner also made a donation of Dunmore Pottery. Many of these pieces were subsequently transferred to the School of Art in Dundee to be used in teaching, but a selection of small, green-glazed vases inspired by classical Greek shapes remains at nms (Fig. 6). The descriptions, however, indicate that none of these pieces were classic examples of the famous Dunmore style, supposedly favoured by Queen Victoria.29 The grotesque animals, bold glazes and oriental designs for which Dunmore Pottery was praised by contemporaries are not represented in this donation, indicating, perhaps, that these were early wares before the more elaborate signature Dunmore style was truly developed. Fig. 6. View largeDownload slide Three small vases donated by Peter Dunmore, c.1870s. © National Museums Scotland. Fig. 6. View largeDownload slide Three small vases donated by Peter Dunmore, c.1870s. © National Museums Scotland. Again there is no clear indication as to whether this donation proceeded from an approach made by the museum or by the donor. Given that these two potteries were in such close proximity to each other and that both took similar steps is promoting their wares, it seems possible that Gardner was inspired by the Baileys. For example, both potteries attended the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876 and displayed their wares, with the Alloa Pottery winning a medal.30 Gardner did make another donation of wares to the Glasgow City Industrial Museum in 1878. The Glasgow collection also contains a selection of the same small vases that Gardner donated to the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art along with some leaf-shaped plates which were very much en vogue in the 1870s. It therefore seems likely that these donations represent a deliberate attempt to promote business and raise the profile of the pottery, as well as providing a legacy for Scottish museum collections.31 If the onus was on the manufacturers to make these donations, it goes some way to explaining why there are so few acquisitions of this kind between 1854 and 1898: they were the result of opportunistic businesses approaching the museum rather than the museum seeking to acquire examples of Scottish domestic ceramics for the collection. No other examples can be found of the museum actively pursuing a policy of contemporary collecting of Scottish pottery, despite Professor Archer’s industrial tours and international visits culminating in acquisitions of contemporary ceramics from England and from continental Europe. Displays of Victorian art and industry The main emphasis of Archer’s tenure was on developing a new museum building for the appropriate display of the collections. The new building, designed by Francis Fowke, was built in stages; the eastern end was opened to the public in 1866, followed by the remainder of the building in 1875. At the opening of this second stage of the building the Scotsman published an article describing the gallery spaces, including the new display of glass and pottery; it made special mention of the fourteenth-century Persian tile work collected by Archer in Constantinople, some Moravian pottery, Lambeth ware (Doulton) and French faience. No reference was made to any Scottish potteries – perhaps not surprising given the patterns of collecting outlined above, although the writer concluded that ‘Vases, plaques and other artistic objects show what can be done by skilful designers, even with so commonplace a material as ordinary stoneware’.32 The idea of collecting the more commonplace materials was discussed by both Wilson and Archer. In a lecture to the Art Manufacture Association in 1857 Wilson talked about the beautifying of common things, stating that ordinary objects must become beautiful since it is among them that people live. He goes on to praise ‘combinations of utility, simplicity and beauty’.33 In 1861 Archer further asserted that ‘we shall endeavour by our selections to extend knowledge of common things, which has been far too much neglected in this country’.34 The evidence provided by the museum’s collections shows that this concept of ‘common things’ did not lead to any particular emphasis on the pottery produced in Scotland. The purchase of the extraordinary candelabra from J. & M. P Bell provides a contrast with the basic domestic or ‘common’ tea-set which was most likely acquired on the initiative of the Baileys. Mass-produced pottery may not have been a high priority for museum collecting, but it is surprising that there was not a more active attempt to collect pieces from the Scottish exhibitors who travelled to display their wares internationally and those who exported overseas. As outlined above, there is a possible connection between the Bells’ candelabra and the London International Exhibition in 1862, but there is no other evidence of collecting of Scottish ceramics inspired by these popular events. One acquisition of European pottery worth noting at this point is the purchase in 1874 of thirteen pieces of ‘Modern Austrian’ pottery, followed immediately by one donation of the same type of ware. This coincided with the Vienna International Exhibition, which opened in 1873, although again the connection is not made explicit in the register. These pieces were purchased from A. Klammerth, the owner of a pottery in the region of Znaim (today in the Czech Republic). A report by an American delegate to the Vienna International Exhibition described Klammerth’s wares as ‘cheap and quaint . . . and mostly articles for common domestic use’, but this acquisition demonstrates that museum staff were not only attending exhibitions but were also open to collecting contemporary domestic pottery made outside of Scotland.35 By the time international exhibitions started to take place in Scotland in 1880s, the directorship of the museum had passed to Robert Murdoch Smith (1885–1900), who previously had been engaged as an agent of the Department of Science and Art in London. Smith had been commissioned by the department to procure artistic and ornamental objects during his travels in Persia. After he took on the role of director at the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art there was a move towards collecting Persian ceramics.36 His directorship between 1885 and 1900 does, however, cover the period of most active interest in the collecting of Scottish pottery – albeit with a focus on earlier Scottish material, as shown in Fig. 2. Despite this trend, the registers show no clear influence on collecting as a result of either the Edinburgh or Glasgow international exhibitions. While a significant amount was collected from the International Forestry Exhibition held in Edinburgh in 1884 (where the displays were focused on international forest products), there appears to be comparatively little collecting activity in the wake of the International Exhibition held in central Edinburgh 1886. These types of exhibitions provided opportunities to demonstrate and encourage both regional and national identity. The Edinburgh exhibition featured strongly in the national press, with regular updates on the plans in the lead-up to the event.37 The layout included a large structure on the Meadows park and the reconstruction of the Old Town of Edinburgh drew a great deal of attention. The principal focus of the exhibition was on electricity, but there was also the usual display of other industries. Dunmore Pottery, for example, was exhibited in one of the reconstructed shops in the old town section.38 Yet in contrast to the museum’s previous collecting impetus, acquisitions connected to these displays were limited – even beyond the field of pottery. In the competitive manner typical of the era of international exhibitions, the Glasgow event two years later in 1888 was even more impressive than the Edinburgh exhibition and was much more international in scope.39 However, again no pursuit of products from this exhibition is visible in the museum registers. It is possible that the museum staff felt it already had a sufficiently representative collection of local and national industry, and the emphasis this time was more on exotic international acquisitions. James Paton, who had previously been Assistant Keeper at the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art, had become Glasgow’s first Superintendent of Museums in 1885. In a review for the Glasgow Herald of the pottery and glass at the 1888 exhibition, Paton stated: Pottery manufacture is, indeed, not a prominent industry anywhere in Scotland and the efforts of Scottish potters have been confined more to the homely and unambitious purpose of supplying the wants of the Scottish kitchen. He continued: That comparatively few of the Scottish potters show their wares in the Exhibition may be due to the fact that what they make does not belong in general to the ‘show’ class of goods. It is clear from this statement that the pottery industry was in Paton’s eyes far from a source of national pride. He went on to compliment Robert Cochran & Co. of the Britannia Pottery for their ‘conspicuous technical excellence, in paste, printing and glaze’. He also mentions Dunmore Pottery, Mountbleu Pottery, A. W. Buchan & Co. and the Saracen Pottery. Paton highlighted a positive aspect about each of the contributors before moving on to discuss English pottery, its influence and new developments in that area. He briefly referenced pottery painting in the ‘Women’s Industry’ section and summarized Persian and Indian pottery in a few sentences. Understanding the viewpoint of key museum figures gives useful insight into the mind-set behind collecting. The connection between the individual interests of museum staff and collecting patterns cannot be denied, but in this case it seems to reflect the attitudes of the consumer-driven middle classes. Certain aspects of ceramic collecting remained influential throughout the nineteenth century. For example Wedgwood both ‘modern’ and ‘old’ was collected throughout the period, and ceramics from Minton and Sevres were also frequently sought after. It is apparent that the output of these factories were considered to be of the highest quality – the pinnacle of ceramic production and therefore the focus of collecting. Tablewares from factories such as Wedgwood were coveted by middle-class consumers and there is also evidence that they were considered valuable. A study of household inventories in Edinburgh and Glasgow between 1720 and 1840 shows that makers’ names are rarely recorded for domestic goods.40 In the case of ceramics, however, Wedgwood was often highlighted, elevating the brand name above other producers of household items. While Wedgwood was expensive and of high quality, it fulfilled the role of tableware in many homes. Wedgwood was a brand with a reputation for excellence and yet was accessible to many middle-class British consumers. In a study of Czech glass, Marta Filipova has observed that glass and other decorative arts were used in the twentieth century to promote national identity by demonstrating high-quality design and workmanship, but also affordability.41 This latter example has echoes of the relationship between the museum and Wedgwood, but it is absent from its collecting relationship with the Scottish potteries. Perhaps this bridging of the gap between reputation and accessibility is why pottery was considered by the museum to be so collectable throughout the nineteenth century and beyond. Conclusion It is clear that there was a tension underlying the ideas of common, everyday material culture and excellence in manufacturing standards – certainly within the field of pottery collecting. The national institution of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art collected with no particular emphasis on the national identity of Scottish manufacturers. The institution was established to show off the best of British manufacture and also to showcase international art and industry as an inspiration for Scottish people. In doing this it also provided Scotland and particularly Edinburgh with an opportunity to promote its British and international connections. These two key themes of commonplace industry and identity underpin nineteenth-century collecting. Understanding the relationship between these ideas and the museum is key to understanding the collections and how they have evolved over time; Scottish pottery forms a good example with which to showcase the influences that were at work, but the collecting of ceramics to show off Scotland’s capabilities in the pottery industry appears not to have been a motivating factor. Although there was a geographical influence on the small collection of Scottish pottery that was acquired, it appears to have been very local to Edinburgh rather than national. The main drive for contemporary collecting was focused on the famous names of the industry and also, to a smaller extent on the exotic. The aim to create a spectacle and to educate the public in worldwide ceramic production by far outweighed any attempt to document the Scottish pottery industry. The material from 1750 to 1850 that was collected shows clearly that only older Scottish material was deemed to be worthy of consideration for the museum collection. Given the challenges of contemporary collecting it is understandable that rarer and older pieces made it into museum collections while the mass-produced and ordinary ceramics were omitted despite the considerable contribution the industry made to trade and commerce. It therefore remains for museums today to continue to collect the pottery of nineteenth-century Scotland in order to better understand and document the history of this once-important industry. Footnotes 1 See resource lists of sherds produced by nms Research Associate G. Haggarty, available on http://repository.nms.ac.uk/. Lists are available for excavations carried out at various pottery sites. 2 Scottish export pottery collected in Southeast Asia by Edwin Robertson is held by National Museums Scotland, Glasgow Museums and the Victoria and Albert Museum. See Christies auction catalogue, From Scotland to South East Asia and beyond: The Edwin Robertson collection of Bell export pottery (London, 2007). 3 J. Spreull and R. Rankine, Alloa Pottery: A history of Alloa Pottery c.1783–1907 (Clackmannan, 1993), p. 20. 4 For an example of this in Gordon’s and Belfield potteries, see G. Haggarty, G. Dalgleish and J. Gray, ‘A group of copper moulds from Belfield’s pottery, Prestonpans’, Northern Ceramic Society Journal no. 28 (2012) p. 167. 5 J. Lewis and G. Lewis, Pratt Ware: English and Scottish relief decorated and underglaze coloured earthenware 1780–1840 (Woodbridge, 1984), p.108. 6 See for example J. Turnbull, ‘Delftfield exports to Canada, Scottish Pottery Historical Review no. 22 (2002), pp. 26–8. 7 Other institutions and collections also form an important part of the nms collection: for example, the Natural Science collections from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the military collections of the Scottish United Services Museum 8 G. Swinney, ‘Collecting legacies: national identity and the world-wide collections of National Museums Scotland’, Review of Scottish Culture no. 26 (2014), p. 134. 9 ‘More arguments for a national museum’, Scotsman, 15 June 1850, p. 2. 10 C. Waterston. Collections in Context: The museum of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the inception of a national museum for Scotland (Edinburgh, 1997), p. 81. 11 During the 1920s to 1940s much of what he collected was disposed of, most likely because the specimens were in poor condition and raw materials had degraded over time. 12 J. A. Wilson, Memoir of George Wilson (London, 1866), p. 306. 13 H. Kelly, Scottish Ceramics (Richmond, 1999), p. 165. 14 C. McNeill, Kirkcaldy Potteries (Kirkaldy, 1998), pp. 12–14. 15 G. Wilson, ‘The recent gifts to the Industrial Museum of Scotland’, Scotsman, 11 November 1857, p. 4. 16 G. Swinney, ‘Towards an Historical Geography of a ‘National’ Museum: The Industrial Museum of Scotland, the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art and the Royal Scottish Museum, 1854–1939’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh (2013), p. 177. 17 Caledonian Mercury, 15 May 1865. 18 D. Bremner, The Industries of Scotland: Their rise, progress and present condition (Edinburgh, 1869), p. 393. 19 The candelabra were disposed of by the museum in 1935. 20 Lewis, op. cit. (note 5), p. 111. 21 The Gallatown Pottery was founded in 1790 and passed through various hands before eventually becoming the Fife Pottery which produced the well-known Wemyss Ware designs. See Kelly, op. cit. (note 13), p. 94. 22 J. Anderson and G. Black, ‘Reports on local museums in Scotland’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 22 (1887–8), pp. 331–422. 23 H. Kelly, The Glasgow Pottery of John and Matthew Perston Bellhttp://www.bellsglasgowpottery.com, p. 113. Accessed 2 November 2016. 24 For a history of J. & M. P. Bell see Kelly, op. cit. (note 23). 25 International Exhibition 1862: Official Catalogue of the Industrial Department (London, 1862), p. 104. 26 G. Cruickshank, The Registered Designs of Belfield’s Pottery, Prestonpans (Prestongrange, 2007), p. 5. 27 Spreull and Rankine, op. cit. (note 3), p. 20. 28 G. Cruickshank, in Spreull and Rankine op. cit. (note 3), p. 27. 29 Peter Gardner advertised that Queen Victoria had purchased an extensive amount of Dunmore Pottery at the Edinburgh International Exhibition in 1886; however, there is no evidence to indicate that this purchase actually occurred. G. Cruikshank, A Visit to Dunmore Pottery: A contemporary account with additional commentary by Graeme Cruickshank (Stirling, 2004), p. 81. 30 ‘The Philadelphia Exhibition’, Scotsman, 22 May1876, p. 5; Spreull and Rankine op. cit. (note 3), p. 20. 31 For illustrations of some of the Glasgow collection see Cruickshank, op. cit. (note 29), pp. 35, 64. 32 ‘The Museum of Science and Art: inauguration of the new halls’, Scotsman, 15 January 1875, p. 4. 33 G. Wilson, The Relation of Ornamental to Industrial Art (Edinburgh, 1857), p. 31. 34 T. Archer, ‘Chamber of Commerce conversazione, address by Professor Archer’, Scotsman, 14 February 1861, p. 3. 35 W. Blake, International Exhibition Vienna 1873. Ceramic Art: A report on pottery, porcelain, tiles, terracotta and brick (New York, 1875), p. 56. 36 Swinney, op. cit. (note 16), p. 180. 37 See for example ‘The proposed international industrial exhibition in Edinburgh’, Scotsman, 24 September 1885, p. 7. Many more articles on the Edinburgh exhibition can be found in the Scotsman archive in the years 1885–6. 38 W. G. Stevenson, Sketches at the International Exhibition (Edinburgh, 1886). 39 P. Kinchin and J. Kinchin, Glasgow’s Great Exhibitions (Bicester, 1988), p. 19. 40 S. Nenadic, ‘Middle-rank consumers and domestic culture in Edinburgh and Glasgow 1720–1840’, Past and Present no. 145 (1994), p. 145. 41 M. Filipova ‘Czech glass or Bohemian crystal: the nationality of design in the Czech context’, in K. Fallan and G. Lees Maffei (eds), Designing Worlds: National design histories in an age of globalization (New York, 2016), p. 150. © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)
Journal of the History of Collections – Oxford University Press
Published: Sep 27, 2017
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