TILE BACK VIEWS
J. Mayer Co.
by Michael Padwee
Recently I purchased a tile manufactured by a company that was unknown to me:
the J. Mayer Company of Trenton, New Jersey. The tile was a 4 1/4" square, dust-pressed, molded, intaglio tile (Figure 1)
with a circular “target" back key pattern reminiscent of some Robertson and Hamilton tile backs. The markings were raised
in a recessed circular area (Figure 2). This tile was one of about a dozen similar J. Mayer tiles in the dealer's stock.
I had never heard of the J. Mayer Company, nor had any of the tile historians or dealers I consulted. In checking my
reference works, only Lois Lehner mentioned a J. Mayer China Company in Beaver Falls, PA, and a Joseph Mayer, who founded
the company in 1881 with his brother, Ernest. (I mentioned this tile, and showed an illustration of its back, in “Flash Point”
vol. 13, no. 1, p. 10).
I put any further identification of this tile manufacturer on a back burner. Then, one day I received an email (thanks to Joe Taylor)
from Scott Anderson and Judi Wells, who were related to the last owners of the Robertson Art Tile Company of Morrisville,
Pennsylvania. They were researching Robertson and mentioned a Trenton pottery database when I told them of my mystery J. Mayer tile.
Scott and Judi sent me materials about J. Mayer's Arsenal Pottery in Trenton and put me in touch with the Potteries of Trenton
Society (POTS, Patricia Madrigal, President, c/o Hunter Research, 120 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608;
www. potteriesoftrenton.org), which has the database. When I contacted Patricia Madrigal,
I was told of one other whole
Mayer tile (Figure 3) and two tile fragments (Figures 4 and 5) that were found along the Delaware River in the waste dump of the
Arsenal Pottery. (One of the fragments was the same as the Figure 3 tile).
The POTS database notes that the Arsenal Pottery had many names between 1876 and c. 1905, its years of operation: Joseph Mayer's
Arsenal Pottery, Mayer Brothers, Arsenal, Mayer Arsenal, Joseph Mayer, Mayer Company, Mayer Pottery Company, and Mayer Manufacturing
Company. The pottery was located on Third Street on the corner of Temple Street, and at Third and Schenck Streets in Trenton. The
owners were two brothers, Joseph and James Mayer. (The Sunday Times Advertiser of July 28, 1929 stated that the Resolute Pottery
Company began production in the Mayer facilities in 1905 giving us an approximate upper date for the Arsenal Pottery.)
William B. Liebeknecht connects the Trenton and Beaver Falls potteries in an article for POTS about the Arsenal Pottery. In this
article Mr. Liebeknecht states:
"Collectors have been aware for some time that ironstone china decorated with a variety of cut sponge motifs was produced by the
Mayer Pottery of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (established1881).... The original owners of the Beaver Falls pottery were Joseph,
Arthur and Ernest Mayer.... Many collectors are unaware, however, that there was an earlier Mayer pottery located in Trenton,
New Jersey. From 1876 to 1905 the owners of the Trenton facility were James and Joseph Mayer.... Archaeological monitoring
activities along the banks of the Delaware River for the construction of the new alignment for Route 29 in Trenton exposed
thousands of cut sponge-decorated ironstone china shards. These shards were locally produced and decorated by the Mayer Pottery
Manufacturing Company.... The cut sponge-decorated shards are nearly identical to those produced by the related facility in Beaver
“...Preliminary observations indicate that...the two facilities used the same vessel forms and cut sponge motifs."
There is no mention in the POTS database, nor in any of the primary and secondary research materials I've seen on this company that
mentions tile production. According to these research materials, the Mayer Company produced "...Rockingham and brown stoneware[,]...
yellowware [and] majolica" (4). It may be that J. Mayer & Co. made mostly experimental tiles, such as the Ott & Brewer Co., as well
as some production tiles.
If any reader has knowledge of the tiles of this company, please contact me at 453 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215; or email me at
In addition, if anyone wishes to share information about Hugh Robertson and
the Robertson Art Tile Co. of
Morrisville, PA, please contact Scott Anderson and Judi Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(4). Potteries of Trenton Society Database. "Arsenal Pottery" in Trenton Potteries: Data. Printout dated January 24, 2003.