Cowden & Wilcox Pottery


The city of Harrisburg was incorporated on March 19, 1860. John W. Cowden, one of its city planners, founded Cowden Pottery in 1861. This stoneware factory and later the J. C. Budding Company masonry supplier were located on a north Herr Street property adjacent to the Pennsylvania Canal (see image below). Over the years many building sites have been constructed of "budding" rocks.

cowden and wilcox harrisburg pa

This picture (above) typifies a normal 1880s day of Harrisburg commerce: Goods transported via horse drawn barges. Cowden & Wilcox, Cowden & his master potter Wilcox merged forces in 1863 (see their pottery in the upper right) and the Harrisburg Car Works (see their building in the upper left) were neighbors.


Cowden & Wilcox specimens are still in demand today, as exemplified by the "Civil War Man" (our words) jug highlighted in the above video. The auctioneer shares historical facts and touts the fine quality of this brand of Harrisburg stoneware.


harrisburg pa skyscrapper
Harrisburg car factory

Directly above is an 1879 advertisement from the Car Builders' Dictionary. The 1875 graphic inset depicts the Harrisburg Car Works that stood across the canal from Cowden & Wilcox. Both businesses thrived by evolving over the years; the former into Harrisburg Steel Company and then HARSCO; the latter into J.C. Budding Company and then Budding Co. We figure we probably played our part in the building of Harrisburg's first sky scraper (see image above the ad).
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