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Plus Ultra: Moravian Tiles of the New World

May 23, 2015 to August 16, 2015
Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) Plus Ultra, 1912, earthenware, 13 1/2 x 10 inches. Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Plus Ultra, 1912, earthenware, 13 1/2 x 10 inches. Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.

Henry Chapman Mercer’s Departure of Columbus, 1912, from the Tiles of the New World series, Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.

Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Departure of Columbus, 1912, earthenware. Moravian Pottery and Tile Works.

During the Age of Exploration, the motto “Plus Ultra” reflected the belief that there was “more beyond” the known realm.

The phrase was also used as a personal motto by Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930), the mastermind behind the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Mercer, who founded the Arts and Crafts style pottery in 1898, was a man of great and varied expertise in history, archaeology and craft. First produced in 1912, his epic relief tile cycle of the New World originally consisted of 29 tiles, though he continued to add to the series over the years, expanding to more than 70 tiles.

The exhibition Plus Ultra featured 25 of the original tile designs of the New World series which were commissioned for a gracious home in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where they remained for nearly seventy years. This exhibition marked the first reinstallation of these tiles, which were displayed in continuous frieze as they were originally intended.