>Henry Chapman Mercer: Tiles and Obsessive Collector

>We went to Doylestown, PA this weekend to visit 2 of 3 sites on the Mercer Mile, a collection of historic sites created by Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was an archeologist, ethnographer, scholar, and obsessive collector of all things pre-industrial. He turned his passion for tiles and prints from around the world into a successful tile works, providing distinctive designs for Arts & Crafts architects. Most notably, the flooring and lunettes in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, PA are all by Mercer. He used his wealth to create a museum of American hand crafts and pre-industrial trades and commerce. The museum houses large items, such as a Conestoga wagon, a hand-driven fire engine, a stage coach, and a gallows. It also houses rooms of material organized by type, such as horn and tortoise shell, and by trade, such as cobbler, tinsmith, and dairy. In the cast iron stove gallery, you can see how he used the shallow relief on the Pennsylvania German box stoves as inspiration for his ceramic tile decorations. He wanted to preserve the artifacts from a vanishing way of life, and he used them as a source for his narrative imagery.

We visited Fonthill, his house, and the Mercer Museum, both owned by the Bucks County Historical Society. We missed the Moravian Tile Works, owned by Bucks County Department of Recreation. All 3 are open to the public, and are designated National Historic Landmarks.

I posted some photos on my Flickr page, Mercer Mile, Doylestown, PA.


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