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Donaghho Pottery


Potter and businessman Alexander Polk Donaghho was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1829, and he died in Parkersburg in 1899. It is thought that he learned his trade in the Monongahela Valley in Pennsylvania, at a pottery owned by an uncle. He came to Parkersburg in 1870 and began a pottery operation there in 1874. Donaghho crocks and other items of pottery are avidly collected today.

Probably working with a few employees, Donaghho made pottery by hand, ‘‘throwing’’ it on a potter’s wheel just as it had been for hundreds of years. The majority of his ware had a generally cylindrical shape with slightly bulging sides. Virtually all of the crocks or wide-mouth pots featured a bold top molding and two ear handles on the shoulder below the rim. Jugs had a small top opening for a plug and a one-ring handle. Pottery canning jars usually had no handles but had a deep groove in the rim for the wax seal.

The ware was dried in a steam-heated room, after which it was stenciled with cobalt oxide. The pots were marked ‘‘A. P. Donaghho,’’ or ‘‘Excelsior Pottery’’ on big pieces, and ‘‘Parkersburg.’’ Many were decorated with advertisements for retail establishments. When thoroughly dry, the ware was placed in a bottle kiln to be fired.

Donaghho pottery was salt-glazed, with damp salt reacting in the hot kiln to produce a sodium aluminum silicate glaze.

Written by James R. Mitchell


  1. Smith, Elmer L. Pottery. Lebanon, PA: Applied Arts Publishers, 1972.

  2. Baker, Stanley W. Crocks and Churns: A. P. Donaghho and Parkersburg Stoneware. Goldenseal, (Summer 1985).

  3. Grimsley, G. P. West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey. Clays, Limestones and Cements. Wheeling News Litho. Co., 1906.