Pottery a hit in Waynesboro

July 14, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Gettysburg resident Scott Swinn arrived just in time Monday morning to buy the last two commemorative John Bell pottery jug banks. The 125 jug banks on display at First National Bank in Waynesboro sold out in two hours.

"I'm an artist myself, a carpenter, and I try to support the arts in the area," said Swinn, who bought the jug banks for his children.

The jug banks are reproductions of a reddish-brown lead-glazed earthenware bank made by John Bell, who with his wife and four sons operated a pottery shop in Waynesboro from 1833 to 1900.


With wallets and checkbooks in hand, a steady stream of people bought all the jug banks, which cost $35 each, between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. in the bank's lobby.

"I was setting up and people were coming in ready to buy," said James Smith, executive director of the Nicodemus Center for Ceramic Studies.

Orders are already being taken for the next batch of 125 limited-edition jugs, the last that will be created by ceramist Lynette King. They will be available next week, Smith said.

Grace Hauver, who drove to Waynesboro from Thurmont, Md., picked up eight jug banks. She plans to give to each of her grandchildren as Christmas presents.

She's saving one for herself.

"I just like anything old and I like pottery," Hauver said.

Native Waynesboro resident Anne Taylor said she bought her two banks because the pottery is a part of Waynesboro's history.

"They're really nice. I feel it's something I'd just like to have," Taylor said.

Though Bell produced an estimated half-million pottery vessels between 1833 to 1880, Smith said the number of originals still around is dwindling and the price is going up.

"The cost of collecting Bell pottery is out of range for most people, so having a reproduction is the next best thing," he said, explaining Monday's quick sell-out.

An exhibit of 200 pieces of genuine Bell pottery is on display at the bank, on Waynesboro's square, until August 4.

The exhibit marks the 70th anniversary of the first public display of the Waynesboro potters' works and is tied to the borough's bicentennial celebration, Smith said.

The pottery will be moved from the bank to the Waynesboro Historical Society headquarters in the Oller House, 138 West Main Street, in mid-September.

Proceeds from the sale of the jug banks will benefit the Nicodemus Center.

The non-profit organization serves as a regional academic institution for the purpose of preserving, collecting, exhibiting and interpreting the pottery of John Bell and other Cumberland/Shenandoah Valley potters.

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