history of the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent
|Use of Salt Glaze and the Elers brothers|
Use of Salt Glaze and the Elers brothers Source: "The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent" John Ward, 1843
Use of Salt Glaze and the Elers brothers:
"Soon after, Dr. Plott wrote, viz. About the year 1690, the practise of glazing with salt was introduced; lead ore, or Smithum, having been the fusible material previously used for glaze, which Dr. Plott says was procured in Fown's Field, on the side of Lawton park, which is within five miles of Burslem*, and sold to the Potters at six or seven shillings per ton.
*In 1831, the vein was traced up to the vicinity of Trubshaw Colliery, and some favourable specimens were obtained; but the speculator died, and the work was abandoned.
It is thought by some, that the salt glaze was in use before this period; but Plott would certainly have mentioned it had he known of itů the more correct opinionů is that the process of glazing with salt first was practised by two ingenious foreigners, of the name of Elers, who set up a small Potwork at Bradwell, within two miles of Burslem; from whence the people flocked in astonishment to see the immense volumes of smoke which rose from the Dutchmen's ovens*.
* Aikin's Manchester, p.526.
The same individuals also introduced and improved kind of unglazed red ware, of a delicate sort, resembling that called Samian, for which some of the clays in the vicinity were suitable; but they did not long continue their operations in Staffordshire; being eyed with the utmost jealousy and inquisitiveness, by the native Potters; and they removed the seat of their manufacture to the neighbourhood of London.
Their practice of glazing with salt was, however, according to general tradition, obtained surreptitiously by the Burslem Potters, by the artifice of a workman, who feigning himself an idiot, got access to their works; and while they took no notice of the apparent dolt, he took sufficient notice of their mode of glazing and other particulars, to enable him to communicate the secrets to his employers, who soon adopted the discovery, and for a considerable period the use of salt, which was poured by degrees into the tops of the ovens, during the process of baking the ware and whilst in a state of intense heat, was found to answer all the purposes, and for a long time almost superseded the use of the lead glaze.
The quantity of salt consumed in this way must, indeed, have been enormous; for in the paper before referred to, of the date of 1762, it is stated, that the Excise duty it contributed to Government amounted to near five thousand pounds per annum."
previous: Early Pottery Works
next: Use of other clays and flint
questions / comments / contributions? email: Steve Birks