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Reception Will Celebrate Homer Laughlin China Company

September 9, 2010 - Other News

  Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will celebrate the exhibition, Homer Laughlin China Company: West Virginia’s Gift to the World, with a gala reception on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Delf Norona Museum. Visitors can meet the owners of the company and see a film about the company, From Essential Elements to Enduring Elegance. They also will have access to the observation room of the research wing. The reception and exhibition are free and the public is invited to attend.

The exhibit features the “Great Wall of China,” consisting of several rows of china from a variety of years. The display contains selections of Harlequin, Fiesta, West Virginia University, and Marshall University specialty pieces and other assorted lines and shapes of china. The show has numerous artifacts from the West Virginia State Museum Collection that were primarily donated by the Homer Laughlin China Company.

“For those unfamiliar with the wonders of the Homer Laughlin ceramic tradition, this is a great introduction. We are proud to be a host for this fine exhibition of wares–some of them one of a kind,” said David Rotenizer, site manager of Grave Creek Mound.

The Homer Laughlin China Company is situated along the Ohio River in Newell, Hancock County. It traces its roots to 1872 when the city council of East Liverpool, Ohio, started a competition and offered $5,000 to anyone who built a four-kiln factory to manufacture white ware. Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin were the winners of the competition and they broke ground in 1873, opening in September of 1874. Homer bought out his brother in 1877 and in the 1880s he developed genuine American china, which when held to the light demonstrated a transparency that is an important component of true china. In 1897, Laughlin sold the company to W. E. Wells and Louis Aaron. On Jan. 1, 1907, the company opened Plant Four, across the river in Newell, which was said to be the largest pottery plant ever constructed.

Fiesta was created in 1935 by Frederick Hurten Rhead, one of the world’s most distinguished ceramists. It soon became the most successful line of china ever made in any factory. In 1959, the company began producing restaurant ware, and in 1995, it introduced Ameriwhite, which provides an enhanced impact-resistant body that is finished in a high-fire abrasion-resistant mirror glaze that is 100 percent lead free. In 2002, the Wells family acquired the company from the Aarons.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator for the complex, at 304-843-4128, ext. 202, or e-mail her at

Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features the largest burial mound in the New World which ranks as one of the largest earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound by the Adena people took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., and required the movement of 57,000 tons of earth, approximately three million individual basket loads.

Exhibits and displays in the Delf Norona Museum interpret what is known about the lives of these prehistoric people and the construction of the mound. The complex also has a new wing which houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Curation Facility, as well as a study room for researchers and a library. Contact the complex for information regarding group registration and detailed driving directions. The Archaeological Complex is located at 801 Jefferson Ave., in Moundsville. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Access to the mound and the gift shop closes 30 minutes before the museum.

A new outdoor exhibit, The Interpretive Garden, was recently planted and features crops grown by Native Americans based on archaeological evidence. Visitors can also see three traveling exhibits on display, Marble King: The World’s Finest Marbles; Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard; and Women of Design: Embassies, Mansions and Stately Homes – Pat Bibbee and Vivien Woofter.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present, and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation, and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the division’s programs, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


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The Homer Laughlin China Company is perhaps best known for its Fiesta Dinnerware. This is a new color, Paprika, that was introduced this summer.


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