Alexandria Virginia Stoneware Canning Jar by Potter B.C. Milburn, ca. 1847-1867: undecorated, quart size with a flared collar, stamped: "B.C. MILBURN"
Benedict C. Milburn came to Alexandria from St. Mary’s County to apprentice with a potter, as did his predecessor at Wilkes Street, John Swann. Milburn may have worked at Wilkes Street with Swann as early as 1822. He took over operations by 1833 and purchased the business in 1841.
Swann had struggled with the business, but Milburn was very successful. His stoneware has been found as far away as West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania.
The earliest of the Milburn marks, B. C. MILBURN ALEXANDRIA D.C., was probably used from 1841 until Alexandria’s retrocession from Virginia in 1847. Only a few vessels are known with this mark, as most of the stoneware made in this period probably still advertised the Smith Company. From 1847 until his death in 1867, Milburn used the marks B. C. MILBURN, and the more common B. C. MILBURN/ ALEXA.
Very little decorated stoneware was produced at Wilkes Street after the Civil War. The use of cobalt may have been all
but discontinued due to the cost of labor and materials. Similar undecorated jars and jugs were made with the B. C. MILBURN / ALEXA mark, and with those of his sons S. C. MILBURN/ALEXA (1867-1873) and W. LEWIS MILBURN (1871-1876). The Milburns also made similar wares with the mark of Alexandria merchant E. J. MILLER / ALEXA (1865-1876).