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J. Bourne & Son Master Ink Bottles

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Artifact Description

Large quantities of ink were often stored in stoneware containers such as those made by J. Bourne & Son's Pottery of Denby, England. Over 90 such master ink bottles, in three different sizes, were recovered from the SS Republic. Each bear the stamp of Bourne's pottery as well as the mark of the London ink company, P. & J Arnold, whose ink products filled these stoneware bottles. In its heyday, Pichard and John Arnold's early 19th-century firm manufactured over 30 varieties of ink. By the middle of the century, their writing fluid was widely imported into the United States in Bourne's stoneware bottles and had become a competitive threat to the domestic market.

The Bourne company dates back to 1806, when William Bourne, a local entrepreneur,  learned of the exceptional clay discovered during construction of a road in Derbyshire. He acquired a piece of land and production of the pottery was started in 1809, with William Bourne's son, Joseph at the helm. The "J. Bourne & Son" mark was not used until about 1850.

The clay used in making the stoneware bottles was a coarse, sandy and heat-resistant quality. When fired at a high temperature it became very hard, dense and non-absorbent. These bottles are referred to as salt-glazed pottery; salt glazing was a popular method of decorating stoneware in the mid 1800's. Common salt was thrown onto the kiln fires when the embers were at their hottest. The salt vapor combined with the surface of the pot to produce a shiny brown surface coating. The process for producing these salt-glazed wares was patented as noted by the stamp at the base of the bottle below the J. Bourne & Son company name.



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