Lead Compounds in Pottery Glazes1

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IT has been known for some months that Prof. T. E. Thorpe, F.R. S., and Prof. T. Oliver, had been commissioned by the Home Secretary to investigate the use of lead compounds in the production of pottery glazes and colours, and to suggest means which might be adopted to counteract the evils admitted, on all hands, to follow from their use. It had been found considerably easier by those who had drawn public attention to these evils even to exaggerate them, grave as they were, than to devise remedies which had any chance of practical adoption at the hands of the trade. The scientific eminence of Profs. Thorpe and Oliver, and their practical acquaintance with the details of many manufacturing processes, warranted the opinion that the choice of the Home Office was a wise one. The appearance of their report marks a very welcome stage in the treatment of this troublesome and intricate question. There exists in this country a pottery industry of considerable dimensions, producing pottery wares of infinite variety, and supplying, not merely the demands of our own country, but possessing, probably, a larger export trade than that of any similar industry in the world. This industry has been built up on the practical experience of generations of workers in the same business. The methods in use may appear, in many cases, to be the reverse of scientific; but, at all events, they have sufficed for the production of pottery of excellent make and finish, at a price which enables our potters still to hold their own, in spite of the efforts of their foreign rivals to copy their methods, their shapes, and their designs. It is idle for any one to deny the fact that, for pottery such as forms the bulk of our productions, glazes containing lead compounds are the simplest and the most trustworthy, and best fulfil all the requirements of a difficult and complicated manufacture.

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BURTON, W. Lead Compounds in Pottery Glazes1. Nature 60, 18–20 (1899) doi:10.1038/060018b0

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