Pickle stand, 1770–72
American China Manufactory (1770–72)
Friends of the American Wing Fund, 1990 (1990.19)
This pickle stand is one of only nineteen known intact examples made by America's earliest porcelain factory. Founded by Gousse Bonnin and George Anthony Morris in Philadelphia in late 1770 and lasting a scant two years, this ambitious undertaking sought to produce high-quality porcelain for American colonists that would supplant the finest imported English goods. There is evidence that the pickle stands were sold as pairs to Philadelphia's elite clientele. Although the original owner of this piece remains unknown, its close similarity to an example in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History suggests that it, too, was one of a pair.
The pickle stand was the most challenging form the factory produced. It consists of three scallop shells joined with a standard supporting a fluted bowl and encrusted with coral and shells. The piece is based on English examples—in particular, those from the Bow Factory. The American version, however, is larger, and, more significantly, the three dishes were molded from actual bivalves unlike their transatlantic counterparts. The elegance of the pickle stand, together with its repeated shells and the underglaze blue painted decoration of asymmetrical floral arrangements based on eighteenth-century print sources, makes it the quintessential Rococo form in American porcelain.