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History of Uhl Pottery Company

by O. I. (Mockey) Lett

(7) BURNING OF KILNS -

AFTER THE KILN WAS SEALED, FIRES WERE STARTED IN THE TEN FIRE BOXES, WHICH WERE EVENLY DISTRIBUTED AROUND THE OUTSIDE OF THE KILN. WE BURNED COAL IN THE FIRE BOXES, WHICH WAS SHIPPED IN CARLOADS FROM WEST VIRGINIA OR EASTERN KENTUCKY. THIS COAL WAS USED BECAUSE OF ITS LOW SULPHUR CONTENT, AS SULPHUR FUMES WERE VERY DAMAGING TO ALL GLAZES. SOUTHERN INDIANA COAL SIMPLY COULD NOT BE USED BECAUSE IT HAD TOO MUCH SULPHUR. THE HEAT WAS GRADUALLY RAISED UNTIL IT REACHED 2400 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT AT WHICH DEGREE THE STONEWARE WAS RIGHT AND THE STONEWARE GLAZES MATURED AND FLOWED TOGETHER. THE HEAT HAD TO BE RAISED VERY GRADUALLY AND USUALLY REQUIRED APPROXIMATELY 65 HOURS TO REACH THE HIGHEST POINT. THE TEMPERATURE WAS CHECKED CONSTANTLY BY THERMOCOUPLES AND REGISTERED ON A CHART WHICH WAS KEPT FOR EACH KILN. THEN TOO AS AN ADDED PRECAUTION CONES WERE SET N THE BACK AND FRONT OF EACH KILN BEFORE THE DOORS WERE SEALED AND COULD BE SEEN THROUGH A PEEPHOLE. THESE CONES WERE MADE TO MELT AND FALL FORWARD AT DIFFERENT DEGREES OF HEAT. THEREFORE, IF ALL THE CONES WERE DOWN THE KILN WAS FINISHED AND THE FIRES WERE ALLOWED TO BURN DOWN AFTER WHICH THE FIRE BOXES WERE SEALED WITH BRICK AND FIRE CLAY TO PREVENT AIR FROM GETTING INTO THE KILN AND CAUSING THE WARE TO COOL CRACK. ALSO THE DAMPER ON THE TUNNEL TO THE STACK WAS CLOSED FOR THE SAME REASON. THE OPENING AT THE TOP OF THE CROWN WAS THEN OPENED TO ALLOW THE HEAT TO ESCAPE GRADUALLY. IT THEN WOULD TAKE 3 TO 4 DAYS FOR THE KILN TO COOL. HALF OF THE DOORWAY WAS OPENED AFTER ABOUT 2 DAYS AND COMPLETELY OPENED THE 3RD DAY. AFTER THE KILN WAS COOLED, THE WARE WAS REMOVED AND TAKEN TO THE WAREHOUSE. THIS WAS HOT JOB AS THERE WAS STILL A LOT OF HEAT IN THE KILN AND THE WARE HADE TO BE HANDLED WITH GLOVES. IT USUALLY WOULD TAKE 4 TO 5 MEN A FULL DAY TO UNLOAD A KILN.

(8) PACKING AND DELIVERY -

AS ORDERS WERE RECEIVED THEY WERE SELECTED FROM THE WAREHOUSE STOCK AND PACKED FOR SHIPMENT IN CRATES, BARRELS OR CARTONS FOR L.C.L. SHIPMENTS BY COMMON CARRIER, OR IN POOL TRUCKS FOR TRUCK DELIVERY, OR IN CARLOADS FOR RAIL DELIVERY. WHEN I STARTED WORKING AT UHL’S IN 1929 ALMOST EVERYTHING WAS SHIPPED L.C.L. IN CRATES OR BARRELS. THE WARE WAS PACKED IN STRAW OR EXCELSIOR TO PREVENT DAMAGE. THE PACKAGES WERE THEN HAULED TO THE FREIGHT DEPOT FOR SHIPMENT BY RAIL. THEN WHEN UHL PURCHASED THEIR OWN FLEET OF DELIVERY TRUCKS DELIVERIES WERE MADE DIRECTLY TO THE DEALER’S STORE OR PLACE OF BUSINESS AT A CONSIDERABLE SAVINGS IN PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION COST WITH A MINIMUM OF DAMAGE. THE WARE WAS PACKED ON THE TRUCK IN STRAW IN REVERSE ORDER OF DELIVERY. THE TRUCK DRIVER WOULD HAVE AS MANY STOPS AS THERE WERE ORDERS TO FILL THE TRUCK. DELIVERIES WERE MADE FOR MICHIGAN TO FLORIDA AND FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER EAST. SOMETIMES IT WOULD TAKE AN ENTIRE WEEK FOR DELIVERIES WHEN THE DISTANCE WAS FAR AND THE STOPS MANY. I HOPE THAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU AN IDEA AS TO OUR OPERATION AND WILL NOW DESCRIBE SOME OF THE MAIN PRODUCTS MADE ON A VOLUME BASIS FOR INVIDUAL CUSTOMERS –

(A) UNDOUBTLY ONE OF OUR BEST ACCOUNTS WAS THE HARPER J. RANSBURG COMPANY IN INDIANAPOLIS WHO HAS SINCE SOLD OUT TO HAMILTON-COSCO. WE FURNISHED THEM WITH HOUSEHOLD ITEMS AND FLOWER POTS THAT WERE GLAZED INSIDE BUT NOT OUTSIDE. THEY THEN DECORATED THE OUTSIDE WITH PAINT AND DIFFERENT FLORAL DESIGNS. (SEE THE GLOVE SHAPED COOKIE JAR,) AS I REMEMBER WE SHIPPED THEM APPROXIMATELY 1 TO 2 TRUCKLOADS PER WEEK.

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