The process of making pottery remained little changed from ancient times until the late nineteenth century, when new materials and techniques came into widespread use. The English manufacturing process crossed the Atlantic and found a home in the eastern United States, most notably in southeastern Ohio, which became known as the pottery capital of America in the early 20th century. In operation there from 1902 to 1959, the Crookesville China Company produced chinaware still valued by collectors.
The Early Years
The Crooksville China Company was established in 1902 in Crooksville, Ohio, a town in the southeastern region of the state that became known as the pottery capital of the world in the early 20th century. Crooksville specialized in producing top-grade semi-porcelain table products and kitchen items. Stinthal China, one of the company’s top lines, became a popular item because its semi-porcelain makeup was more durable than porcelain tableware, which chips easily and is more sensitive to temperature changes.
The Prosperous Years
In its early years, Crooksville initially produced simple, down-home, country-style designs. The collections became more elaborate over the years as the company prospered. Crooksville joined a consortium of American china manufacturers in 1927, but the industry declined after the 1929 stock-market crash and the Great Depression.
The Final Years
The company continued to produce tableware throughout the Depression (1930s) and WWII (1940s) years. After World War II, Crooksville declined because it was unable to adjust to changing American lifestyles. By this time, pottery workers in the area were commanding the highest wages in the American china industry in the United States, which made it hard for the company to remain competitive against cheaper Japanese imports. Orders were cancelled and changed frequently, and stock piled up in warehouses. The company faced financial difficulties by the middle of the 1950s, and finally closed its doors in 1959.
In 2010, half a century after the company ceased production, Crooksville pottery is still sold in antique shops, by pottery specialty dealers, and even on eBay. Some items are easily identified by the back stamp on the china pieces. Not all production pieces were stamped, however. Antique dealers specializing in tableware can help identify pieces in a collection.
Meryl Baer worked at a financial firm for 15 years, researching investments and writing newsletters and marketing materials. She also worked at two business schools as an English/business writing instructor, department head and placement director. Baer holds a master's degree in American studies from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in business administration from Robert Morris University.