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Published on Aug 28, 2008
Isaac Button was the last true English country potter. In a day, he could turn a ton of clay into pots. When timed he threw a lump of clay on to the wheel, pulled it high, then cut it off with wire in 22 seconds. In an hour, he could turn out 120 pots. In a day, 1,200. Isaac Button died in 1969 and his kiln, at Soil Hill, near Halifax, now lies cold and desolate. In his day, speed was essential. Even before the packaging revolution, household pots and jugs made from clay were treated as disposables. They cost only a few pence. Craftsmen potters had to be quick to earn a living from poorly-paid villagers.