Manufacturer Notes: Smith & DaySmith, Asa E., born Oct. 1, 1798
Hall, Edwin; The Ancient Historical Records of Norwalk, Connecticut; with a plan of the Ancient Settlement and of the town in 1847. (New York, James Mallory & Co., 1847)
The Smith pottery of Norwalk Borough was in reality an offspring of the Day factory, although for some fifteen years its contemporary. Asa E. Smith, the nephew of Absalom Day's wife, was apprenticed to Day in 1812, when he was fourteen years old. Thus, he too was trained in the ways of the New Jersey potters. The first intimation that he had started a business of his own appears in the gazette, November 1, 1825. His advertisement reads:
Stone Ware Factory / The subscriber informs the public that he has established a Manufactory of / Stoneware / in Norwalk at the foot of Mill Hill a few rods east of the Bridge, where he will be able to supply Orders in that line to any extent. He has now on hand an extensive assortment of Ware which as to quality and beauty cannot be Surpassed by the Ware made at any other factory in the country. It will be sold reasonably both at wholesale and Retail. Merchants in the country can have their orders met to their complete satisfaction upon the shortest notice.
Asa E. Smith.
Norwalk, Oct. 31, 1825.
This establishment is shown in a "South View of the Borough of Norwalk" from John Warner barber's Connecticut Historical Collections, published in 1836. It was on the shore of the long inlet from the sea that makes up in to Norwalk Borough. Here Asa Smith had his own wharfing facilities, where the clay from South Amboy and Long Island could be conveniently be dumped and where pottery could be shipped to many points along the coast. Much of it was sent to New York to a distributing agency at 38 Peck Slip.
Until 1837, Smith was the sole proprietor of his pottery. January 18 of that year he announced that he had taken a partner:
Notice Co-Partnership/ Noah Selleck having this day associated with him Mr. Asa E. Smith, the business of Stone Ware Manufacturing, at the Manufactory at Norwalk, will be continued under the firm of / Selleck & Smith/
N. B. All persons having demands upon Noah Selleck, or being indebted to him, are requested to call at the Factory as above or at 38 Peck Slip, N. York, for settlement of the same.
Norwalk, Jan. 11, 1837
This association lasted but six years, Selleck does not appear to have been a potter, as he was engaged in running two steam packets to New York, besides keeping a store "west of the Bridge," and his connection with the business could have brought little change. The following notice of the conclusion of the partnership reveals that Asa's cousin, Noah S. day, was entering the concern in Selleck's place:
Dissolution. The firm of Selleck & Smith is this day dissolved by mutual consent. The business of the firm will be settled by either of the subscribers who are hereby authorized to use the name of the firm in liquidation.
Asa E. Smith
Norwalk Feb, 1st, 1843
The business of the above firm will be continued by the subscribers under the firm name of Smith & Day.
Asa E. Smith
Noah S. Day
This association was not a successful one, for Noah S. Day had no capacity for business and he incurred so many debts of a personal nature that his unfortunate partner was arrested and even imprisoned for a day in New York City on his account. After this unhappy experience, Smith continued the business alone until his son Theodore was old enough to become a partner. At the age of sixteen Theodore was managing the agency at Peck Slip. His advent into the firm spelled greater prosperity. The sons Asa and Howard Hobart also joined the family enterprise in due time. For about twenty years the Smiths worked together as A. E. Smith & Sons. The father retired in the early sixties, devoting himself to various local and business activities. The pottery went on as A. E. Smith's Sons. In 1874 a corporation known as A. E. Smith's Sons Pottery Company was formed. This lasted until 1887, ending in financial collapse. Younger Wilfred Smith, son of Theodore, took the business over for a year and then sold out to the Norwalk Pottery Company, which was still managed by a Smith--"young Asa." of another generation. The actual manufacture of pottery at Norwalk was soon discontinued, although merchandise made elsewhere was sold until 1901. Wilfred Smith, after 1888, ran the agency at 38 Peck Slip, New York, selling stoneware from Ohio and from a factory of his own in South Amboy.
As the Smith pottery was in operation over such a long period, its production varied. Up to 1850, according to information obtained from Winfred Smith by Mr. and Mrs. Winton, slip-decorated ware was made. The great majority of "Connecticut" pie plates emanated from this pottery. Some are embellished with names or legends, such as "Oysters and clams," "Good and Cheap," or "Mary's Dish," and numbers of them are labeled "Mince Meat," "Apple Pie," "Current Pie,' and so forth. The handwriting on all is so similar it has been attributed to one person-- a workman named Chichester. Triple wavy or straight-line decoration is also commonly seen on the Smith redware. these pie plates have finely toothed rims, not cut by hand, but notched with a cogglewheel.
During the Smith & Day partnership the company received an award at the seventeenth annual fair of the American Institute in New York city, October 18, 1844. This was a diploma for "superior earthen spittoons."
A great deal of utilitarian redware was made in the early years at the pottery. I have a price list headed "Norwalk Pottery/ A. E. Smith & Sons/ Manufacturers of/ Stone and Brown Ware," which itemizes in various sizes baking dishes, round and square, chambers, cups, wash bowls, pots, preserve pots, covered jars, milk pans, flat pans, yellow glazed or red glazed, pudding pans, butter coolers, cake molds, jugs, bottles, mugs, pitchers, pipkins, tea and coffee pots, money jugs, toy cups and dishes, bed pans, roach traps, and flowerpots all of "brown earthenware." The color of the clay used by the Smiths was indeed a dark reddish brown, quite different from the orange shades of northern New England. It came from Elizabethport, New Jersey, and from a brickyard on the northern shore of Long Island.
The stoneware containers on this sheet are presented with illustrations of "bellied" pots (open-mouthed jars with handles), jugs, pitchers, churns, straight and bellied jars (the latter rimmed for lids), straight butter pots with covers (crocks), and barrel-shaped water kegs. Other items are oyster jars, milk pans, cake pots, beer and pop bottles, chambers, spittoons, and stove tubes. Jar lids and pot covers, as well as wooden covers for churns, were provided at extra cost. Spittoons, teapots, pitchers, and preserve jars of Rockingham ware are also advertised in this list, but the Winton's ascertained that such ware was merely sold, not made, at the Smith pottery.
A later price sheet published by A. E. Smith's Sons mentions bean bakers, stove tubes, and chimney tops in earthenware, while teapots and coffee pots are omitted. Tomato jars, molasses jugs, and butter pots are among the stoneware articles. This second price list, which is reproduced in Old-Time New England (April 1934), includes some twenty-five objects of yellow and Rockingham ware sold by the Smiths. It is interesting to note that the prices were "adopted by Convention at New- York, April 20th, 1864." They are fully twenty-five per cent lower than those of the earlier sheet.
With one or two exceptions, the forms are the same that we find in all stoneware potteries. Milk pans of stoneware are perhaps unusual outside of Connecticut. Oyster jars differed from preserve jars in having a sharp rather than a rounded shoulder. Tomato jars, or "corkers" were the forerunners of the modern preserve jar. They had narrow necks for the insertion of cork stoppers. The molasses jugs were a squatty type with a lip. Other stoneware articles made at Norwalk are birdhouses, jewelers dipping baskets, and a variety of miniature teapots, pitchers, crocks, jugs, and pippins for children s toys.
The Smith stoneware after 1843 was marked with the firm name, followed by Manufacturers/ Norwalk, Con., within an oval. Examples may be dated by these marks: Smith & Day, 1843-1846 or 1847; A. E. Smith & Son, 1848; A. E. Smith & Sons, 1849-1865; A. E. Smith's Sons, 1865-1874; A. E. Smith's Sons Pottery Co., 1874-1887.
In the late seventies the Norwalk pottery turned to the manufacture of unglazed redware vases and other decorative forms for home embellishment. This was in line with what other redware potteries were doing at the time, and for a while it was a lucrative part of the business. A price list of these ornamental wares is discussed in Chapter XXVIII.
The Smith pottery in the seventies and eighties was probably the largest in New England. At that time fifty men were employed and two ships plied constantly from Norwalk to New York and New Jersey for loads of clay, to Virginia for pine wood, or to New York with finished ware. A great deal of stoneware, especially jugs for the whalers, was sent to New London, New Bedford, and Sag Harbor. Like other New England industries, this productive business was obliged to succumb to competition, first from New York, and then from Ohio, where potteries were nearer the sources of fuel and clay.
Watkins, Lura Woodside; Early New England Potters and Their Wares (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1950)
Smith & Day (A. E. Smith and Noah S. Day), 1843-C. 1847
Stradling, Diana; Stradling, J. Garrison; The Art of the Potter: Redware and Stoneware (New York, Main Street/Universe Books, 1977)
Smith & Day, 1843-c. 50.
Webster, Donald Blake; Decorated Stoneware Pottery of North America (Rutland, C. E. Tuttle Co., 1971)
April 20, 1847.
Of the American Institute.
NEW-YORK, April 15th, 1847.
To the Honorable
WILLIAM C. HASBROUCK,
Speaker of the House of Assembly.
SIR — I herewith transmit the annual report of the American Institute
of the city of New- York, for the year 1846.
Respectfully your ob't senrvant,
T. B. WAKEMAN, Secretary.
Glass and Earthen ware.
P. C. Dummer & Co., Jersey City, N. J., for cut glass. Silver medal.
Smith & Day, 38 Peck Slip, for superior earthen spittoons. Diploma.
Wakeman, T. B.; Fifth Annual Report of the American Institute (Albany, C. Van Benthuysen And Co., 1847)
Earthen Ware Manufacturers.
Smith & Day South Norwalk
Quintard, James A.
Pratt & Co.; New-England Mercantile Union Business Directory 1849 (New York, Pratt & Company, 1848)
A. E. SMITH & SONS,
STONE & BROWN WARE MANUFACTURERS,
38 PECK SLIP, between Front & South Streets, N.-Y.
FACTROY, NORWALK, CONNECTICUT.
Asa E. Smith Theodore E. Smith Asa Smith, junr
Belden, E. Porter; New-York: Past, Present, And Future (New York G. P. Putnam, 1849)
30 44 Susan Stevens 56 f Keeper Boarding H Conn
Mary Stevens 28 " "
Augusta " 18 " "
John Burrall 64 m "
Julia " 55 f "
Samuel D " 16 m "
Asa Smith 20 " Potter "
Emma " 24 f "
641 803 Asa E. Smith 57 m Potter 9000 Conn
Ann M " 45 f "
Amanda Y " 24 " "
Elbert W. " 11 m "
Howard H " 7 " "
Ann F " 3 f "
Mary Donnelly 20 f Ireland
1850 Connecticut Fairfield Norwalk Census
Webster M, C, & Sons Hartford
Lloyd William R. New Haven
Hine Anan & Co.,[fire bricks] New Milford
Hine Lyman & Son, " " "
Smith Asa E. & Sons, Norwalk
Risby Sidney, Norwich
cadwell Orson S. Jr. (West) Hartford
Goodwin Harvey " "
Goodwin Thomas O., " "
Adams, George; Connecticut Business Directory 1856 (Boston, George Adams, 1856)
972 1277 Asa E Smith Jun 30 M Potter Manufactory 15000 7000 Conn
Emma L 32 F "
Louisa 9 F "
Asa E Smith 7 M Conn
Anna M " 6 F "
Carrie M " 4 F "
Catharine Conden 32 F Ireland
Katy Hyde 13 F "
1101 1425 Asa E. Smith 60 M Stone Ware Factory 45000 15000 Conn
Ann M " 56 F "
Elbert " 21 M Potter "
Howard H " 17 M "
Ann F " 13 F "
Rebecca Brown 78 F "
Susan " 39 F "
Sarah Doud 26 F Servant Ireland
1860 Connecticut Fairfield Norwalk Census
Oct Smith Asa & Sons Norwalk Pottery Ware 2,492.86 3 74.78
1862 IRS Tax Records
Smith Asa E & Sons Norwalk Manufacturers 10
1866 IRS Tax Records
Mar. 21 A. E. Smith's Sons 6.50
Annual Report of the Metropolitan Board of Health of the State of New York 1869 (New York, D. Appleton & Company, 1870)
511 609 Smith Elbert 30 M W mfr Earthenware 3500 Conn
--Amelia 29 F W Keeping House "
-- Millie 6 F W "
-- Margaret 8/12 F W "
O'Brian Mary 30 F W Domestic Servant Ireland
512 610 Osborn Charles F 51 M W Real Estate Agent New York
513 611 Merrill Jason H 63 M W Potter 2000 Conn
515 612 Smith Asa 40 M W Mfr Stone Ware 12,100 5800 Conn
-- Emma 44 F W Keeping House "
-- Louisa 19 F W "
-- Asa E 17 M W works in Pottery "
-- Anna M 16 F W "
-- Carrie M 14 F W "
Carrigan Anna 25 F W Domestic Servant Ireland
516 613 Smith Asa E 71 M W Mfr Stone Ware 55,000 22,000 Conn
-- Ann M 66 F W Keeping House "
Peck Thomas S 25 M W Bookkeeper "
-- Armat 23 F W Boarding "
-- Gertrude A 1 F W "
Brown Susan R 48 F W Dress Maker "
Carrigan Kate 25 F W Domestic Servant Ireland
OBrian Eliza 15 F W Domestic Servant Conn
720 841 Smith Theodore E 43 M W mfr Earthen Ware 20,000 20,000 Conn
Smith Louisa 35 F W Keeping House Conn
-- Wilford 15 M W "
-- Elinor 5 F W "
Waldron Kate 22 F W Domestic Servant Ireland
1870 Connecticut Fairfield Norwalk Census
20 19 Smith H. H. 28 M W clerk in Stoneware Factory 600 Connecticut
-- E C 29 F W New York
-- Edith M 4 F W New York
Ladue Josephine 24 F B Domestic Servant New York
1870 New York Kings Brooklyn Ward 21 Census
Smith Asa (A. E. S.'s Sons,) h East av
Smith Asa E., h East av
Smith Elbert W., (A. E. S.'s Sons,) h East av
Smith Howard H., (A. E. S.'s Sons,) h Brooklyn, N. Y.
Smith James, potter, h lane n Water
Smith Theodore E., (A. E. S.'s Sons,) h France
SMITH A. E.'s SONS, manufacturers stone and brown ware, East Water. [See adv.]
1871 Norwalk Directory
5 172 251 Smith, Elbert W. W M 42 Potter Connecticut
-- Ann A. W F 39 Wife Keeping House Connecticut
-- Amelia G. W F 16 Daughter At Home Connecticut
-- Maggie W W F 11 Daughter At Home Connecticut
Merrill William W W M 37 Brds in home Works at Hatting Rheumatism Connecticut
Mills Emma W F 23 Servant Servant Connecticut
12 368 309 Smith, Asa W M 50 Potter Connecticut
-- Emma W F 57 Wife Keeping House England
-- Louisa E W F 29 Daughter At Home Connecticut
-- Carrie M W F 24 Daughter At Home Connecticut
Moran Mary W F 25 Servant Servant Ireland
421 537 Smith Howard H. W M 38 Manf Stone & Earthenware Conn
" Elizabeth W F 39 Wife Keeping House N Y
" Edith M W F 14 Daughter N Y
" Ruth M W F 2 Daughter N Y
1880 Connecticut Fairfield Norwalk Census
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