New Mini Exhibit: Imported Ceramics on Staten Island

Much like today, Staten Island residents of long ago often chose to purchase household items that were produced in countries around the world. Beautiful and useful items such as vases, tea sets, and dinner sets were found in the homes of local residents alongside products made in the United States. The imported items displayed in this exhibit were all owned by Staten Island families and were considered highly fashionable in their day.

Majolica Basket, ca. 1870-1899.

Plate, Teacup, and Egg Cup
Made in China, ca. 1775-1850
Belonged to the Ward family of Grymes Hill
As early as the 1500s, manufacturers in China began making ceramics specifically for export to Europe, and in the late 1700s, the United States officially entered into direct trade with China. These wares, which today are usually referred to as Chinese export porcelain, were produced in a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns. Blue and white Canton type wares, like this cup, plate, and egg cup, featured Asian scenes including pagodas and landscapes.


Made in the Netherlands, ca. 1750-1800
Excavated ca. 1960 from the ruins of the Bedell family home in Greenridge
These tin-glazed earthenware tiles were likely part of a decorative fireplace surround. Dutch tiles like these are sometimes called “delft tiles,” but most were made in other parts of the Netherlands and not in the city of Delft.


Serving Bowl
Made in France, ca. 1855
Belonged to the Britton family of New Dorp
This porcelain serving piece is part of a large dinner service that was presented around 1855 to Alexander Hamilton Britton and Harriet Lord (Turner) Britton as a wedding gift. Mr. Britton was a director of the Staten Island Railroad, and in 1896 their son, Dr. Nathaniel Lord Britton, became the first director of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.


Transfer-Printed Serving Plate, "Melbourne" pattern
Manufactured by Gildea & Walker, Stoke-on-Trent, England, 1881-1882
Belonged to the Dale family of West New Brighton
English transfer-printed wares, which were produced by transferring an engraved design to the ceramic body, were popular in the United States throughout much of the 1800s. The asymmetrical design of this plate reflects the Aesthetic Movement of the late 1800s, which was heavily influenced by Japanese art.


Cup and Saucer
Made in Europe, probably Germany, ca. 1850-1875
Belonged to the Cornell family of Stapleton
By tradition, this porcelain cup and saucer set was purchased at the Gaubatz crockery store on Arietta Street in Tompkinsville and given as a gift to John Paul Cornell. Years later it was donated to Historic Richmond Town by Mr. Cornell’s daughter Wilhemina.

The word “crockery,” which was used more commonly in the 1800s than today, refers to plates, cups, and similar ceramic items used to serve food and drink. The Gaubatz store was listed in the 1886 Staten Island directory under the category “Crockery, Glass, and China Ware.”


Majolica Basket
Made in Europe, probably France, ca. 1870-1899
Belonged to the Barton family of Richmondtown

This decorative basket descended in the Barton family, whose 19th-century home is now known as the Edwards-Barton House at Historic Richmond Town. A photograph of the interior of the family's parlor in 1899 shows this item displayed on the lower shelf of a small table next to their sofa.


This exhibit and many more are on display at Historic Richmond Town's Historical Museum.

Sarah Hermann