I have continued to purchase pieces so that I can donate the large set to charity events and to friends and family. We recently donated the china collection to be used in a fund-raiser for "Imagine LA," an organization committed to eradicating hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles. The dinner "imagined" itself as a throwback to the 1940's when families sat down together to share comfort foods around the dinner table. My "Roses" starred at the table lending their luster and vintage charm.
This last year my son and future daughter-in-law chose an outdoor garden for their summer wedding and honored me with asking to use the "Roses." Of course! Since they are inviting 120 people, I've continued to collect and now my collection is ready for the wedding.
The following factoids about Pope-Gosser come from a wonderful "compendium of historic chinaware produced in Coshocton, Ohio" called "Recollecting Pope-Gosser," funded by the Joe R. Engle Museum Gallery Fund. I don't know about you, but I love imagining the men and women who lovingly crafted these beautiful pieces of history. I've highlighted sections about Rose Point in rose and my comments in blue.
Bentley Pope, driving force of the Pope-Gosser China Company, spent much of his youth working in some of the famed potteries of England. Immigrating to the United States in the late 19th century, he was successively employed as manager at various pottery companies. He continued to nurture the desire, however, for the freedom to produce fine chinaware rivaling that of his native land. To this end he met with jeweler Charles F. Gosser, president of the Coshocton Board of Trade, a group of businessmen who were aggressively soliciting new industries for an expanding area. The end result of this meeting was the formation of the Pope-Gosser China Company in 1902, with Pope as president, and Gosser as Secretary/Treasurer.
By 1903 production had commenced in the 315’ by 90’ factory, modestly described by I.B. Pope himself as incorporating the “best ideas in pottery manufacture” in a facility which boasted “a model, modern arrangement, equal to if not superior to any plant of this kind in the world.”
Artware, dinnerware, and toiletware were proudly spewed forth by the initial rank of over one hundred
employees. As customary, china was recognized by a mark underfoot. Pope-Gosser began its life with a mark consisting of a double ring with wings plus the identification CLARUS WARE.
The factory was located at 329 North Fifteenth Street. The plant grew from utilizing 6 kilns at its inception to 15 at its peak.
Pope-Gosser originally utilized European clays in their mixture of kaolin, quartz, and feldspar.
I.B. Pope soon adjusted this to include predominant amounts of fine American clays from states including Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
Clay was unloaded from the railroad cars and carted into the plant with wheelbarrows.
Collaborating with the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, the Pope-Gosser China Company
developed a new design using a piece of wedding lace collected by David and John Johnson, benefactors of the highly regarded museum recently established in Coshocton. After working several months, their artist developed the embossed “Rose Point” design. Differing from other designs of the era, Rose Point was more finely detailed, and extended beyond the normal rim-only decoration. It was also unique in that it had to be adapted to each piece. The embossed design was produced on a light ivory body with a “glaze of unusual brilliancy and transparency.”
Carlyle Roderick, former employee and presently collector of, Pope-Gosser, recalls the clay forms were trimmed with a notched corset stave. Sponges were utilized to smooth the “green ware.”
Clay slabs were delivered from storage to “moulding and turning” rooms. Operators in this area
transformed the basic material into circular forms like plates, saucers and cups, on a rapidly revolving
wheel. Other workers molded shapes such as tureens or pitchers in plaster of Paris “moulds.” The
plaster of Paris facilitated the drying process by quickly absorbing moisture from the clay.
In the chinaware industry, there are two basic forms: flatware (such as plates, bowls, or saucers) which are formed on wheels; and holloware (pitchers, teapots, etc.) made by pouring liquid clay into molds.
The mold-maker, the man responsible for constructing the shell for hollowware was one of the top paid employees of the company.
Chinaware underwent three firings to create the finished product. Items were packed in an earthenware box called a sagar to be place in huge kilns for the first firing. Emerging from the first, the “biscuitware” was inspected for flaws, dipped in glaze, then fired a second time. Before a final, brief firing in the decorative kilns, women employees handpainted and did “decalmanica” (applying of decals). Gladys Matthews recalls working on the pattern above. In the decoration room, each of the buds had to be hand-spaced exactly right.
The Pope-Gosser China Company survived the war years, but struggled to remain competitive in post-war America. It was during this decade (the 40s) that the tureen mark identified the Pope-Gosser China. Due to the limited demand for china at this time, employees often worked only one and a half days a week, which was preferable to being layed off. When company President William Pope died in 1948, his death further weakened the struggling company.
In the 1950s a final attempt at survival was made as Pope-Gosser developed hundreds of new patterns, “constantly seeking to meet the desires of the American housewife.” Unfortunately,
their effort was unsuccessful.
On May 3, 1958, citing the increasing cost of operation and the pressure of imports (particularly from Japan), the company declared bankruptcy, releasing the last of its one-hundred-fifty employees and closing its doors. Steubenville acquired this pattern from Pope-Gosser China Co in 1958, but only made it for less than a year since Steubenville closed in 1959.
The 52 under the wreath mark indicated that the piece was manufactured in 1952.
More information found about Rose Point design used by Pope-Gosser and Cambridge Glass:
Rose Point Etching
by Russell VogelsongEDITOR'S NOTE: The following article first appeared in the Vogelsong Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, August 28, 1971.
Issue 90 - October 1980
The following information came to us from two sources. Our first was from a circular letter dated October 25, 1934, and was sent to all agents by W. C. McCartney, explaining the introduction of a new Rose Point Etching. The letter reads:
ROSE POINT ETCHINGOur second source of information was from what we believe to be one of the first advertisements for Cambridge Rose Point. The ad reads as follows:
CIRCULAR LETTER #144
TO ALL AGENTS:
We expect to have ready around November 1st, samples of the new Rose Point Etching, at which time we will send you samples and full information.
In the November issues of China, Glass and Lamps and Crockery & Glass Journal,
A magic word - a word to conjure visions! Brides of Yesterday in hoop skirts! Brides of Today in slender silhouettes! Brides of royal blood, resplendent, glorified, adorned for the altar in bridal veils of Rose Point lace!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Along these same lines, the December 1974 Issue #20 of the Cambridge CRYSTAL BALL contained an article by Ruth Forsythe. We are reprinting a portion of this article here.Rose Point lace is made entirely be hand by the peasants of Belgium, requiring infinite skill and patience. Years are sometimes required to complete a single pattern and many hands have a part in the making. The finest of cotton thread is used and so delicate is the design that magnifying glasses are worn by the workers. It is never washed, as water would destroy its perfect texture. The younger generation of Belgians have neither the patience not the inclination to perform so tedious a task, so Rose Point lace is becoming increasingly rare.And now there is another Rose Point luxury for brides, less rare, less costly, but beautiful and distinctive and new - CAMBRIDGE ROSE POINT CRYSTAL!THE CAMBRIDGE GLASS COMPANYCAMBRIDGE, OHIO
This is just part of a letter found in an old notebook of W. C. McCartney of the Cambridge Glass Company. It is not known to whom it was directed or from whom it came, but certainly brings out again the importance of design and name in selling.
C/L#30 - Page #2
'Regarding Rose Point Lace. Stopped into Marshall Fields this morning and talked to the buyer of this department. They have a fireproof safe in which they keep all of the Rose Point and other fine handmade laces.
I do not know how complete your information is on this type of lace, but this lady told me it was practically all made in Belgium and none or very little being made now. It is all made by hand, of cotton, taking years to make even a single yard of some of the more complicated patterns.
They have one piece there 9" wide that they want $75 a yard for, and this has been marked down from $120 a yard. They have another piece 18" wide and this is a very exquisite one with the rose petals made free from the main body of the fabric. They are asking $300 a yard for this and it has been marked down from $500. This piece of lace has been in the store for over forty years and was exhibited at the last Chicago Worlds Fair."