John Bell & Solomon Bell
JOHN BELL (1800-1880)
was born in Hagerstown, Maryland. The oldest of ten children, he was trained by his father, Peter Bell, and influenced by Hagerstown’s large and active community of immigrant potters. Before the birth of his son in 1828, Bell moved to Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. By 1833 he had established a small but successful pottery business which continued to grow as his own sons joined the shop. Bell’s redware and stoneware pottery is noteworthy for the proficiency and technical innovation of glazes and for the stylistic details that Bell created from a meld of Germanic and American traditions. In addition to developing unusual colors such as celadon, he was the only potter at the time known to have used cobalt in earthenware glazes.
SOLOMON BELL (1817-1882)
was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, the youngest son of Peter Bell, from whom he learned the family trade. In 1843 Bell moved to Strasburg, Virginia to work independently but soon partnered with his brother Samuel in the production of redware and stoneware. The Strasburg Bells used typical glazing ingredients of the time: copper oxide, manganese dioxide and cobalt oxide. By the mid 19th century however, concerns about lead glaze poisoning decreased market value for all earthenware goods and stoneware became the dominant product of their shop.