• Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Plate, possibly Davenport, StaVordshire, ca. 1835. Whiteware. D. 9 7/8". (Private collection; photos, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Detail of the mark on the reverse of the plate illustrated in fig 1.

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Detail of floral painting on the plate illustrated in fig 1.

Amy C. Earls and George L. Miller
1830s Painted Wares from a New Orleans Importer

A stained and cracked brightly painted plate at our local flea market was less than spectacular, but the unexpected mark on the back connected it to an important New Orleans importer (fig. 1). It was impressed “HENDERSON WALTON & CO. / IMPORTES / NEW ORLEANS” (fig. 2). This mark was from a partnership that had lasted only from 1834 to 1836, and it could be the first impressed mark and painted piece from this partnership. I gave the dealer twenty dollars for the plate. 

Feedback from the online version of this article demonstrated that it was neither the first impressed Henderson, Walton and Co. mark recorded nor the first of these marks on a painted piece.[1] Rather, this plate and two other vessels show the variety of painted wares available in the mid-1830s for the American market. The colors ranged from the older earth tones that first appeared in the 1790s on pearlware to the bright chrome colors used to paint bold Persian-style patterns on whiteware beginning in the 1830s. On both, the designs are executed in bold Persian styles covering much of the vessel’s surface, in fine sprig styles leaving much of the surface white, or in simple floral designs falling between these extremes.

Hill and Henderson and successor companies were active in New Orleans from the 1820s into the 1860s as importers and wholesale dealers in earthenware, glass, and china for the country trade, supplying crates of assorted wares to stores all over the South and the Midwest.[2] They have been the subject of study by archaeologists and collectors because a number of vessels have been found that have their printed or impressed importers’ marks.[3] Marks from these companies have been found on pieces at sites in Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and elsewhere.[4] The four Henderson partnerships that marked their wares were Hill and Henderson; Henderson, Walton and Co.; Henderson and Gaines; and Gaines and Relf. These partnerships cover the years 1822 to 1877. (See Table 1)[5]

The Henderson partnerships are significant for researchers and collectors because their long-lived history has been documented, and, unlike most of their competitors, their imported wares are marked. These marks can in turn be used to date the pots on which they are found. Distribution of their marks from archaeological sites provides information on the territorial reach of these New Orleans importers. 

Importers’ marks from before the last quarter of the nineteenth century are rare, and they are not common after that period. A 1999 list of seventy importers’ marks sheds some light on their rarity.[6] The importers were concentrated in New York (twenty-one), Boston (eight), and Philadelphia (eight), and they account for almost 52 percent of those known to have their company name on vessels. The other forty-seven importers are distributed among thirty-three cities. Of those in the deep South, only Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans are listed as having importers’ marks.[7] Thus, researchers are fortunate that a sequence of New Orleans importers had their names on wares from a very early period. 

Davenport is the only known potter placing Henderson marks on its wares. Henderson marks also occur on ceramics without makers’ marks—as, for example, the transfer-printed Millenium [sic] pattern. Although there are few surviving Davenport records for this period, marks on antique pieces and on archaeological fragments provide ample evidence of a business relationship.[8] The earliest importer marks on Davenport ceramics are by Hill and Henderson (act. 1822–1834).

Painted Patterns with Henderson Marks
Henderson marks also have been found on undecorated and minimally decorated wares, such as white ironstone and green and blue shell-edged vessels. Marked painted wares are important because few from the early nineteenth century are marked and little systematic work has been done on their dating. A major change in painted ware technology and style occurs at about the same time as the 1834–1836 Henderson, Walton and Co. period. During the early 1830s underglaze chrome red, light green, and black colors appear for the first time, as do sprig and bold floral patterns.[9] Documents as well as marked painted wares can help to date the brighter color palette and new floral styles. 

An 1835 Henderson, Walton and Co. invoice to Sutherland, Menefee and Co. of Santa Anna, Texas, includes painted pitchers, teapots, sugars, and creamers.[10] Marked examples now exist of bold Persian and sprig-painted styles on whitewares as well as of earlier floral patterns painted in earth tones on pearlware.

The painted floral pattern on the Henderson, Walton and Co. plate consists of the bright color palette of red and green with black stems on a whiteware body (fig. 3), which contrasts with the muted earth tones painted on pearlware. The name for this bright color palette was “Persian painted,” a term used in potters’ price lists, invoices, and correspondence dating from the 1830s through the 1860s. The pattern covers most of the plate’s surface, in contrast to small sprig floral patterns. 

A painted pearlware sherd with a Henderson mark found in Mississippi during archaeological work by Coastal Environments, Inc., shows a floral pattern of indeterminate style in cobalt and mustard with drab olive leaves and a brown stem typical of painted pearlware dating to the late eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth.[11] The impressed mark, “[H]ENDE[RSON & . . . / IM[PORTERS] / NE[W ORLEANS]” appears identical to the mark on the Persian painted plate. It is impossible to tell whether the second partner’s name is Walton or Gaines, but the fragment dates to 1834 or later since the partnership name on the mark is either Henderson, Walton and Co. or Henderson and Gaines, not the earlier Hill and Henderson. 

A saucer from Washington, Arkansas, with sprig-painted blue cornflower decoration is marked “Henderson Walton & Co. / Importers / New Orleans,” similar in mark and date to the painted plate reported here.[12] Henderson, Walton and Co. marks on these three painted wares mean that bold Persian and sprig painting styles both date at least as early as 1834– 1836. This short-lived Henderson partnership was importing not only the floral patterns painted in earth tones and the minimalist sprig patterns but also the new chrome colors in bold Persian painted style. We would be interested to hear of other pieces marked by New Orleans importers. 

We would like to thank the following colleagues for sharing information on Henderson marked pieces: Skip Stewart-Abernathy, Ryan Gray, Sara and Thurston Hahn, Christopher Lintz, John Penman, and Jay Stottman. 

Amy C. Earls, Book and Exhibition Reviews Editor, Ceramics in America;

George L. Miller, Historical Archaeologist, URS Corporation;

  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Plate, possibly Davenport, StaVordshire, ca. 1835. Whiteware. D. 9 7/8". (Private collection; photos, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Detail of the mark on the reverse of the plate illustrated in fig 1.

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Detail of floral painting on the plate illustrated in fig 1.

Ceramics in America 2005

Show all Figures only
  • [1]

    John Penman suggested that Oklahoma River Basin Survey reports mentioned Henderson importers’ marks, and further sleuthing by Christopher Lintz tracked down the Oklahoma report of a wealthy Indian burial containing, among fourteen whole pots, a blue shell-edge twiffler marked “Henderson Walton & Co./Importers/New Orleans” with Davenport anchor mark (see Mike L. Wilson, “Two Historic Burials in the Three Forks Locale,” Oklahoma Anthropological Society Bulletin 17 [1968]: 75–86), pl. i, no. 2. Information on the painted pearlware sherd with partial Henderson mark was supplied by Sara Hahn courtesy of Coastal Environments of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sherd was recovered from Site D (22ad1019; Thurston H. G. Hahn III et al., “Natchez Bluffs—Once Upon and Down Under: Archaeological and Historical Inventory and Reporting for the Natchez Riverfront Revetment, Reach 4 of the Natchez Bluff Stability Study, and the Learned Mill Road Disposal Area, Adams County, Mississippi,” draft report submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, by Coastal Environments, Baton Rouge, 2002). A Henderson, Walton and Co. cornflower-pattern sprig-painted saucer was found in a 2002 online report of Arkansas Technological University’s long-term work at Old Washington, Arkansas; For images of the painted pearlware sherd, printed wares, and additional Henderson importer marks, as well as further details on the Henderson partnerships, see the online version of this article at potterynews/12975.html.

  • [2]

    Art Black and Cynthia Brandimarte, “Henderson & Gaines: New Orleans Ceramics Importers,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Research Notes: Historic Sites and Materials, no. 2 (Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1987): 1–3.

  • [3]

    Ibid.; Leslie Stewart-Abernathy, “Queensware in a Southern Store: Perspectives on the Antebellum Ceramics Trade from a Merchant Family’s Trash in Washington, Arkansas,” six-panel poster session with paper presented at annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Reno, Nevada (1988); Terence A. Lockett and Geoffrey A. Godden, Davenport China, Earthenware and Glass, 1794–1887 (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1989).

  • [4]

    Stewart-Abernathy, “Queensware in a Southern Store”; M. Jay Stottman, chapter on Feature 10 (Brick-lined Privy), draft report on archaeological work at the Commonwealth Convention Center expansion site, Louisville, Ky., by the Kentucky Archaeological Survey (n.d.), Table 3.13; Hahn et al., “Natchez BluVs”; Sandra D. Pollan et al., “Nineteenth-Century Transfer-Printed Ceramics from the Townsite of Old Velasco (41bo125), Brazoria County, Texas: An Illustrated Catalogue,” prepared for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, by Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin (1996); Marie E. Blake and Martha D. Freeman, “Nineteenth-Century Transfer-Printed Ceramics from the Texas Coast,” prepared for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, by Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin (1998).

  • [5]

    The pioneering work on this company was done by Art Black and Cindy Brandimarte (see their Table I, “Henderson and Gaines”). Table I herein summarizes their work in New Orleans city directories and adds mark information from documented pieces. Further notes can be found at

  • [6]

    Arnold A. Kowalsky and Dorothy E. Kowalsky, Encyclopedia of Marks on American, English, and European Earthenware, Ironstone, and Stoneware, 1780–1980: Makers, Marks, and Patterns in Blue and White, Historic Blue, Flow Blue, Mulberry, Romantic Transferware, Tea Leaf, and White Ironstone (Atglen, Pa.: SchiVer, 1999), pp. 658–60.

  • [7]

    Feedback from the online version of this article produced additional marks for New Orleans: John Gauche’s Sons, Haviland and Co. French porcelain cup, late nineteenth century, courtesy of Sara and Thurston Hahn; Baldwin Brower Company, documented from 1838 to 1857 but predating 1838, based on marks on painted and printed pearlwares, courtesy of Ryan Gray, Earth Search, New Orleans and Louisville, Ky.; Lewis and Wilkes, ca. 1843– 1863, courtesy of Jay Stottman, Kentucky Archaeological Survey.

  • [8]

    Archaeological and antique examples with Henderson marks and Davenport or unmarked maker’s marks are listed and illustrated at potterynews/12975.html, which also summarizes archaeological information on Davenport anchor date marks and their possible discrepancies with archival dates. For notes on Davenport records, see Terence A. Lockett, Davenport Pottery and Porcelain, 1794–1887 (Newton Abbot, Eng.: David and Charles, 1972), p. 7.

  • [9]

    George L. Miller et al., “Telling Time for Archaeologists,” Northeast Historical Archaeology 29 (2000): 1–22.

  • [10]

    Black and Brandimarte, “Henderson and Gaines,” p. 3. It is not entirely clear in the original whether the word “painted” modifies teapots, sugars, and creamers or only pitchers.

  • [11]

    Hahn et al., “Natchez Bluffs,” illustrated at potterynews/12975.html.

  • [12]

    See Arkansas Archeological Survey, University of Arkansas, available at their website (accessed June 27, 2005).