John Campbell was born in 1857 in New Zealand and moved to Victoria with his family as a child. He became an apprentice at Bendigo pottery and his newly learned potters skills were rewarded by winning medals in the 1879-80 Melbourne Juvenile Intercolonial Exhibition for his exhibits - a stoneware fountain, a whisky still worm and two terracotta fire grate backs.
At around age 23 he moved to Tasmania and in 1881 in partnership with his father in law, bought Alfred Cornwell’s 'Victorian and Tasmanian Potteries Launceston pottery works. In the 1891-2 Tasmanian Exhibition in their home town of Launceston, Campbell’s exhibited a range of pots and urns, vases, teapots, cheese dishes with covers, jars, bottles and Toby jugs.
Pipe and brick manufacture was the largest part of the Campbell business, but John Campbell's own interest were the hand-thrown decorative items that they manufactured.
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