Pottery Industry Wrote Its Own Chapter in Athens, Texas


An abundance of rich clay in the Henderson County, Texas, area spawned a vibrant early pottery industry in the mid-19th century. One noted potter and artist at the time was Levi Cogburn. In fact, one of his inkwells sold on eBay for an impressive $7,201 in 2003.

Cogburn and the region's pottery industry are recognized on a Texas historic plaque in Athens, Texas.

Cogburn -- born in the state of Georgia on October 3, 1812 -- relocated to East Texas as an adult. He ran a pottery company in Athens from 1857 until his death in 1866. The company made plates, cups, saucers ... and inkwells. 

The inkwell is inscribed to "James Averitt, Athens Texas, 1859." Averitt was possibly the owner. Up until the early 20th century, inkwells were common and necessary items for business owners, office workers or anyone needing to write notes or keep records. An inkwell is a small container -- made of pottery, brass, glass or pewter -- used for holding ink in a place convenient for the person who is writing. The artist or writer would dip the tip of a brush, quill, or pen into the inkwell and thereby refill the pen with ink for writing.

Inkwells and the pens requiring them fell out of popularity with the invention of the fountain pen that held an amount of ink meeting long-term needs of the writer.

Cogburn is buried in Athens Cemetery. 

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