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April 2023 Seminar

Summary of Lectures

Ceramics on the Great River


Amanda Lange

Lecture # 1: “Canton Connection: The China Trade on the Connecticut River" 


Research on the American involvement in the China trade has focused almost exclusively on urban, coastal cities such as Boston, Salem, Providence, New York, and Philadelphia. But this economic opportunity also affected rural towns and more inland outposts – like the Connecticut River Valley.  Not only did Valley inhabitants order and own China trade goods, they also supplied outbound cargo to vessels voyaging to China.  Adventurers and fortune seekers set sail for China as captains, first mates, sailors, and travelers, often returning with teas, porcelains, silks, and souvenirs for loved ones in their home “ports” of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Northampton. This lecture will explore America's direct and indirect involvement in the China trade with a special focus on the Connecticut River Valley voyages and the goods brought back -- especially porcelain.


Lecture # 2: "Pots in Context: The Ceramics Collections at Historic Deerfield" 


Historic Deerfield, situated in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts, is blessed with a superb collection of ceramics from around the globe, including Chinese export porcelains, English pottery, and locally made New England redware and stoneware. Beginning with museum founders Henry and Helen Flynt's efforts in the 1950s and 60s, the ceramics collection has emerged as ‘a collection of collections’ making the museum’s holdings both significant and surprising. The basic concept of documentation remains a primary goal in Historic Deerfield’s collecting strategy in order to bring greater understanding to rural New England life. Using historical sources such as archaeology, diaries and letters, inventories, and account books in combination with objects, Ms. Lange will place wares as diverse as chamber pots and teacups "into context."  Her talk will also highlight recent acquisitions of English pottery, 17th-century Continental European ceramics, and an anonymous donation of New England redware.

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