Laughlin Brothers
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Brothers Homer Laughlin (1843 - 1913) and Shakespeare Moore Laughlin (1847 - 1881) got their start in the pottery industry as importers of china and earthenware. Their company was in New York and operated from circa 1871 to 1873.

In 1873, they constructed their pottery in East Liverpool and produced their first ware in 1874. The names Ohio Valley Pottery and Laughlin Brothers tend to go hand in hand. Letterhead, invoices, price lists, and other documents list both names, however, "Laughlin Brothers" was used in the backstamps of pieces made in the 1870s.

Laughlin Brothers pottery from Illustrated atlas of the Upper Ohio River and Valley from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Cincinnati, Ohio. 1877.

An article from the Buckeye State was reprinted in The East Liverpool Gazette on March 13, 1875. It described a tour of East Liverpool potteries during a meeting of the Ohio Teachers' Association. They gave an excellent summary of the Laughlin Brothers' pottery and its history:

One of the best known establishments in Liverpool is that of Laughlin Brothers, manufacturers of Iron-Stone China. These buildings have been erected within the past two years, and as they are in all their appointments considered the model pottery in the country, we give space to a somewhat extended description of them.

On the first day of September, 1873, the Laughlin Brothers were located at No. 60, Barclay street, New York, engaged in the importation of English Granite ware, and jobbing the same in original packages. About that time a number of the citizens of East Liverpool offered them [snip] $5000, and the necessary ground they would erect a first-class pottery on it. This proposition was accepted on the 12th of the same month, and on the first of October, ground was broken for the erection of buildings.

September 1st, 1874 the works were completed, and consisted of a main building 260 feet by 30 and two stories high; placing houses 112 by 12 feet; kiln and sagger house 140 by 40; clay house 52 by 24; glaze house 80 by 30, one story high, built very substantially of brick and covered with iron roofs.

The motive power is a 13 by 34 cylinder automatic cut off engine, made by C. H. Brown & Co., of Fitchburgh, Mass. Tublar Boiler 17 feet long, 48 inches diameter, made at Worcester, Mass. Pulleys, hangers [snip] by Wm. Sellers & Co. of Philadelphia, Pa. Their special potting machinery includes many labor-saving devices hitherto unknown to potters, and was made to order by Watson, of Trenton, New Jersey, and S. S. Lane, of Beaver Falls. The leading modeler[*] in Irons-Stone China shapes of Staffordshire, England has modeled an entirely new and original shape for them which they call the Centennial, and is destined to become popular.

Only 50 hands are now employed, but they have capacity for 125. The value of annual products is $80,000, and when running to full capacity, the yearly business will amount to $150,000. 75,000 bushels of coal and 1,200 tons of material for the body of the ware are annually consumed. The latter consists principally of Calcined and Ground Flint and Feldspar, Kaolin and Ball Clays, which are obtained about equally from the East and West, at an expense from $18 to $25 per ton.

In connection with the works is a well of natural gas, which saves for fuel alone 33 percent of coal. It also furnishes abundant and excellent light enabling the men to work full time in winter; the whole establishment is heated by steam requiring 4,000 feet of pipe.

As compared with English ware, this firm produces an article which excels in whiteness and durability and quality is fully equal to it. The Laughlin Brothers have built up an extensive and lucrative trade and are bound to prosper. East Liverpool is justly proud of the fact that it possesses in this the most complete Pottery in America.

[*] The modeler mentioned in the article was most likely Jesse Chetwynd as he is mentioned by name in the price list at the bottom of the page.

Sometime after Shakespeare sold his interests in 1877, the company known as Homer Laughlin. Homer himself sold his interests to the Wells and Aaron families in 1897. It was at this time the firm was given the full name: The Homer Laughlin China Company.

Letterhead dated November 16, 1872 acknowledging receipt of
payment and signed by S. M. [Shakespeare Moore] Laughin.

Order form dated February 1873

Invoice dated June 27, 1877

Laughlin Brothers examples from the 1870s and made in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Soap with drainer

Cable sauceboat

Embossing detail


Nappy with scalloped edge and outside wtih its backstamp

Laughlin Brothers Price List from 1877

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