By: Katha Kievit
Edmund Potter was a British calico print manufacturer in the nineteenth century (and the grandfather of the famous Beatrix Potter). Potter’s early adoption of cylinder printing, development of an early factory chemical department, and implementation of innovative employee benefits in his manufacturing plant, combined to make his company the largest producer of calico fabric in the world by 1873. This paper explores Potter’s life and works within the broader context of British fabric printing and manufacturing during the 1800s. Through the study of various primary sources—including a few rare company documents, contemporary newspaper accounts, design copyright records, and fabric sample books in England and the United States—this article highlights Potter’s various roles and legacy in manufacturing , political activities, philanthropy, and art education during the Industrial Revolution. It also examines samples of Potter’s fabrics to aid in their identification.