Welcome to The Ephemera Society Website - Queries
News   About Us   Membership   Events   Links


The Potters' Joint-Stock Emigration Society and Savings Fund document

The Potters’ Joint-Stock Emigration Society and Savings Fund

Document dated 1865 and; Dollar note dated 1845.

Q This document explains the history of the Society and glorifies its founder, William Evans, who is the named bearer on the “1 dollar note” featured on the document. At the back of the frame, there is a very old label with handwritten notes: ...this is the only one I have seen.

The Society was founded to encourage Potters staff to emigrate. In doing so, they relieved the overstaffed industry of excess and raised the wages and sale price of pottery for those who remained.

What is unclear to me is how rare this document actually is and whether it has some historical value to some researcher. I don’t mean in monetary terms, as it is probably not worth a lot. But it would be interesting to know who would be interested in this historical item.

Chris Cuny

Copyright © Chris Cuny 2005.

A Apparently the scheme failed. The best place to find out about it seems to be the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, which has a copy of the full set of a newspaper The Potters’ Examiner, and the Workman’s Advocate.

This was a weekly title circulated in the Staffordshire potteries, edited by William Evans. It was the mouthpiece of the United Branches of Operative Potters which publicised the editor’s solution to the problem of unemployment - organised emigration to the United States. The title gives general information to prospective migrants, and specific details about the Upper Mississippi area. Letter from migrants in Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin to their families back in the potteries are published to demonstrate the benefits of migration. Rather than give money to the strike fund, potters were instead encouraged to donate to the Potters Joint Stock Emigration Society and Savings Fund, which assisted potters to emigrate. Land was bought for a settlement in Pottersville, Wisconsin, however the poor land and harsh frontier conditions combined to make this a failure. The scheme was cancelled in 1850.

  • Amanda Bevan of London
  • Another source of info on the Society can be found at:
  • http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/DOOLEY/1999-12/0946657666
  • Thanks goes to Ephemera Society member Malcolm Shifrin for supplying the above.

A Please thank your member who kindly replied, leaving a link for me to follow up. It is known that the society failed in the end, though the document I have praises William Evans for enabling some settlers to become wealthy (legend or truth?). The failure of the society is attributed to different reasons: certainly, William Evans and his followers blamed unnamed men of evil disposition (?) rather than poor land in Wisconsin for the demise of the society. Regardless of the reasons for the failure, it is clear that in 1869, it was still a subject debated and written about.

What I wonder is if people today are still interested in the Society (I did find one academic work whose three-pronged theme rests in part on the Society). I am also interested in finding out just how rare the “one dollar note” is, again, not in monetary terms (clearly, no-one is biting my arm trying to buy it!) but in terms of historical value. On this score, I would still appreciate further comment.

With all my hear-felt thanks for the tremendous resource your Society have kindly provided for me and for countless others.

Chris Cuny



This regular feature invites answers by email to members’ questions on an item of ephemera.