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Chinese Porcelain

China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America

Through September 30

Chinese export porcelain played an important role in the lives of 18thcolonists. From shopkeepers to gentlemen, widows to blacksmiths, 18thcentury people wanted to own Chinese porcelain dishes. This exhibit illustrates the wide variety of Chinese porcelain that was available in colonial America. Particular emphasis is placed on pieces with histories in Virginia, and objects recovered from archaeological excavations.


Like modern ones, early engines were used to direct a stream of water at an out of control fire—which was a significant problem in a time when buildings and their contents were highly flammable. Indeed, Williamsburg was described as “our Wooden city” in 1721, and remained relatively safe until 1747, when the Capitol Building burned. To prevent further tragedy, the colony wisely decided to invest in a proper fire engine “and Four Dozen of Leatheren Buckets for use of the Capitol” in 1754.

This patented engine, built in London by Richard Newsham’s firm around 1750, is known to have been the clear choice for anyone in England or America who was serious about combating fire. 

On view in the June Weldon Focus Room

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