The Chelsea China Company of New Cumberland, West Virginia was built in the late 1880s. One article notes the exact year as 1886, however, according to the 1947 book,Old Pottery and Porcelain Marks by C. Jordan Thorn, the company was established in 1888. Other sources claim 1889.
It produced primarily dinnerware, but also made white granite ware, toilet sets and specialty art ware. Advertisements from 1896 mention the dinnerware being of a "semi-translucent porcelain." When found, pieces are often marked with a star and crescent backstamp with either "Chelsea China" or "Chelsea White Granite" marks.
Chelsea Pottery closed sometime after 1896, but the plant changed hands several times. While the company itself was short lived, the buildings and property had an extensive history of changing hands, renovations, expansions, fire, and flooding.
|Chelsea China advertisements from the mid-1890s.
From the collection of Jo Cunningham.
A local paper ran the following article regarding a fire in January 1907:
The Chelsea pottery of New Cumberland was totally destroyed by fire early Friday morning. The loss is estimated at $100,00. The plant was owned by the Union Potteries company, controlling the Union pottery in this city, and was considered one of the most modern of its kind in the country.
The Chelsea is an eight kiln plant and resembled in many respects the china works of the K. T. & K. Potteries company. The clay and warehouse were three and four stories respectively. The company carried a heavy stock in its warehouse where the heaviest loss, outside of the destruction of the building, was sustained.
The Chelsea was built by a stock company in 1886. It came under the control of Union Potteries company a little more than two years ago, during which time it has been operated steadily. A. M. Moreand was president and F. W. Fowler vice president of the company.
Sometime between 1904 and 1919, the plant had been rebuilt and named the Clay Casting Company. However, in the fall of 1919, the name was changed back to the Chelsea China Co. by Jo Speidel, president of the company. By 1920, Chelsea China Company letterhead boasted the pottery as a, "manufacturers of vitrified hotel china."
In November 1922, the following was noted in pottery trade publications: The Chelsea China Co., at New Cumberland, W. Va., which has been inactive for some months is assembling a crew with a view of resuming production. Advertisements have been inserted in Steubenville, O., newspapers for women and girls, men and boys, to become skilled pottery workers.
In September 1926, another write up appeared in the trades, this time regarding the sale of the plant:
The sale last week of the property and chattels of the Chelsea China Co., New Cumberland, W. Va., proved to be the largest transaction on pottery deals recorded this year. This property has had a varied career. It was originally built for a general ware plant and has been operated by numerous interests. After remaining idle for a period of years, interests closely associated with the former Carwright Pottery Co., East Liverpool, O., took over their plant for the purpose of manufacturing kitchen sets. This move did not prove to be a profitable one. In the meantime two tunnel kilns were build in the plant from designs suggest by J. B. Owen, Zanesville, O.
A new interest was then formed by [intrests in] Wheeling, W. Va., and the plant was converted into manufacturing of hotel and restaurant ware. This business continued for a few years, and during that period the company withdrew from the agreement whereby it was to be operated under pacts between the United States Potter's Association and the National Brotherhood of Operative Potters. W. A. Rhoads, now with the Sebring Pottery Co., was in charge of the commercial department of this plant for some years and he was followed by James Shaw, now with the Illinois China Co. The property has been idled for a considerable period, and when offered for sale last week was taken over by interests connected with the Standard Pottery Co., East Liverpool, O. All molds and other chattels having to do with the production of hotel and restaurant china were sold early this year to an outside interest and removed from the plant.
Production of ware began the first week of December 1926 at Chelsea which was now under control of the Cronin Brothers of East Liverpool, who also operated the Standard Pottery Co.'s plant. The plant was renamed the Cornin China Company.
According the dissolution papers, the Cronin China Company in New Cumberland ceased operations in 1930s. The paperwork was finalized in Charleston, West Virginia on January 5, 1939.