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net Antiques & Auction News — August 16, 2019 - - 11

The Career, Research And Collection Of Frederick H. Norton


By Justin W. Thomas

While visiting a house in


East Sandwich, Mass., on Cape
Cod during Memorial Day
weekend in 2015, I purchased
some pottery from Henry
Bornhofft III. The pottery was
once owned by Frederick H.
Norton (1896-1986), a physi-
cist and ceramics professor at
the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) in
Cambridge, Mass. But, Norton The red earthenware vase (left) is attributed to and during John Donovan’s Matching red earthenware pitchers (left) from the Norton Collection at the MFA
was also a relative of the employment at the Moses Paige Pottery in Peabody, Mass. The vase was once and (right) from the Watkins Collection at the Smithsonian Institute. Both are
famed Norton family of pot- owned by Frederick Norton. The red earthenware vase (right) in a matching size stamped “PEABODY POTTERY / 1736 / MADE BY / J.J. DONOVOAN / 1930.” This ca. 1897-1908 Merrimac Pottery
ters in New England. He was and form is from the Lura Woodside Watkins Collection at the National Museum Courtesy of both Museum of Fine Arts Boston and National Museum of Company vase from Newburyport,
also a potter himself. of American History at the Smithsonian Institute, stamped “PEABODY POTTERY American History at the Smithsonian Institute. Mass., was formerly owned by Norton.
Bornhofft said that Norton / 1736 / MADE BY / J.J. DONOVOAN / 1930.”
was a friend of some mem- Courtesy of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian export porcelain, tiles and
bers of his family, and each Institute. vases from Chelsea Keramic
piece of pottery was marked Art Works, Low Art Tile Works,
on the base with a number, Dedham Pottery, Newcomb
which corresponded with the Pottery, Marblehead Pottery,
same number in a book Grueby Pottery, Merrimac
owned by Norton, identifying Pottery, Norton stoneware
the object and how it was from both Worcester and
obtained. Bennington, various other Three ca. late 1940s or early ’50s earthenware objects made by Frederick
One of the objects during stoneware makers, some New Norton at MIT now owned by the MFA Boston.
the visit really stood out to me. England red earthenware, Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
I was told John Donovan made some Baltimore pottery and formed the Stahl Pottery England Potters and Their
an orange glazed vase at the many other objects. However, Preservation Society (SPPS). Wares.” That landmark book
Moses Paige Pottery (1847/48- some of the pottery Norton I have found that Norton was published in 1950 and
1941) in Peabody, Mass., in the owned was also considered did not necessarily collect included Norton’s original
1920s. I later learned that the modern for the period. pottery for its aesthetic research into the 19th-century
form of the lead glazed red Norton may have also vis- appeal. Rather, it was more Osborn family pottery in
earthenware vase matched an ited Russell Stahl’s (1911-86) likely used for his research, Gonic, N.H.
object in the collection of the pottery in Powder Valley, Pa., like an article he wrote for the Interestingly, Watkins also
National Museum of American My niece, Alexis, with two large hand-thrown pottery vases decorated with seeing that Stahl’s pottery is winter 1975/76 issue of Studio wrote about the Paige Pottery
History at the Smithsonian African animals that were made by Frederick Norton, ca. 1940s. These vases represented in the collection Potter called “Clay: Why It Acts in “Early New England Potters
Institute in Washington, D.C., were likely made from the same terra-cotta clay that was reportedly developed he gifted to the MFA. Russell The Way It Does.” Norton por- and Their Wares.” This busi-
which is prominently stamped, by Norton and described as “superior.” was the third generation of trayed the story as an attempt ness operated at the same
“PEABODY POTTERY / 1736 / Stahls to produce red earth- to simplify and describe the location as the Osborns, who
MADE BY / J.J. DONOVOAN / American Academy of Arts and could visit some of the potter- enware on the family site, structure of clay and the rea- made red earthenware in
1930.” Sciences, and professor of ies still in existence, like the ceasing production altogether son why it acts the way it does Peabody from 1736 until the
However, while Norton’s industrial physics and direc- Dedham Pottery in Dedham, sometime about 1953. In fact, when used in a pottery body. 1850s. But she did not illus-
name may not be widely tor of the Division of Mass.; Frank Lamson’s (1859- more-than 1,000 pieces of His scholarship has been trate or mention that she
known today, in addition to Industrial Cooperation and 1936) Exeter Pottery Works in Russell’s pottery were sold featured by other writers. owned two marked pieces
leaving a legacy behind at Research at MIT. Exeter, N.H.; and even the onsite by Maurer’s Auctions in Massachusetts author Lura made by John Donovan at the
MIT, he made contributions at Frederick H. Norton also Paige Pottery in Peabody, the summer of 1987. Living Woodside Watkins (1897-1982) business, now kept with her
the Museum of Fine Arts, graduated from MIT with a Mass. family members purchased cited Norton’s research collection at the National
Boston, as a contributor to the degree in physics, and upon Among the objects that he much of the estate and throughout “Early New Continued on page 13
research of some well-known graduation in 1918 was hired gifted to the MFA Boston were
author’s publications. as the first technical employee four pieces of lead glazed red
Frederick H. Norton at NASA Langley, an aeronauti- earthenware made at the
Born in Manchester near cal research facility in Paige Pottery: a vase, two jugs
Gloucester in Essex County, Hampton, Va. He became Ed and a pitcher, three of which
Mass., on Oct. 23, 1896, Warner’s assistant and partner were marked by John
Frederick Harwood Norton in technical projects, such as Donovan (1851-1931), and I IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE...
was a relative of the Norton helping design Langley’s first believe that Norton acquired
family
Bennington,
of potters
Vt.,
in
and
wind tunnel. After Warner’s all of these objects brand new
departure in 1920 to become a from the pottery. “THE LAST LARGE
ESTATE AUCTION
Worcester, Mass. His parents professor of aeronautics at Overall, Norton gifted
were Charles and Frances MIT, Norton replaced him as more than 200 pieces of glass
Norton, and he was the eldest the chief physicist. and pottery to the MFA Boston
of six children. His father was
a graduate of MIT, successful
While Norton was in 1971. The list is long:
employed in Virginia, he pre-Columbian pottery, Native
of the SUMMER”
engineer, fellow to the authored more than 35 American pottery, Chinese “ITEMS FROM FREDERICK, MD - DAMASCUS, MD -
acclaimed
N a t i o n a l BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - MIDDLETOWN, MD - WALDORF, MD
A d v i s o r y - WESTMINSTER, MD - PLUS OTHER ESTATES”
Committee for AUCTION DATE:
Aeronautics
(NACA) technical SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2019
reports. His spe- STARTING AT 9:00 A.M.
cial interest was
the develop- DOORS OPEN FOR INSPECTION AT 8:00 A.M.
ment of record- LOCATION OF AUCTION:
ing instruments
for accurate THE FREDERICK FAIRGROUNDS
This is Frederick H. Norton measurements (INDOORS - BUILDING #12) 797 EAST PATRICK STREET,
(1896-1986).
Courtesy of NASA.
of aircrafts in
flight. But he left
HISTORIC FREDERICK, MARYLAND 21701
These are Norton’s original manuscripts and photograph
Langley in 1923,
for the Martin Crafts Pottery in Nashua, N.H., and the BECAUSE OF “ADVERTISING DEADLINES” THIS AD WILL BE VERY SHORT, PLEASE
changing his
Exeter Pottery Works in Exeter, N.H. CHECK OUT WWW.AUCTIONZIP.COM (AUCTIONEERS ID#2894)
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member of the
OVER 1,400 LOTS TO BE SOLD IN THIS ONE DAY AUCTION EVENT -
Department of 3 AUCTIONEERS SELLING AT ONCE.
Metallurgy at
MIT. Other fami- FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
ly members HOWARD B. PARZOW, AUCTIONEER
would also fol- 301-351-6544 E-MAIL HPARZOW@AOL.COM
low in the fami-
R045112

ly legacy at the
school. NOW ACCEPTING
The red earthenware flowerpot An aspect COUNTRY STORE, GAS & OIL RELATED ADVERTISING, DRUGSTORE
reportedly made at Frank Lamson’s RELATED ITEMS, GENERAL ADVERTISING, NEON SIGNS, COIN -OP,
about the time SODA ADVERTISING, ADV., THERMOMETERS AND CLOCKS
(1859-1936) Exeter Pottery Works in that Norton Norton’s original research, photography and manuscript
Exeter, N.H., was formerly owned by FOR OUR SEMI-ANNUAL AMERICANA AUCTION
arrived at MIT in for the 19th-century Osborn family pottery in Gonic, N.H., CALL US NOW, THIS WILL BE A HUGE AUCTION.
Norton and possibly acquired new the 1920s is the was published in the February 1931 issue of “The
from the pottery. fact that he Magazine Antiques.”