Mercer, Henry Chapman

Mercer, Henry Chapman

(1856–1930) archaeologist, antiquarian, tile maker; born in Doylestown, Pa. After training as a lawyer, he shifted his interest to the archaeology of the earliest Native American remains in the eastern United States, especially in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania. In 1894 he became curator of the Museum of American Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, but he retired in 1897 to have more time for fieldwork; he published at least 55 scientific papers, mostly on Native Americans. Meanwhile, he had developed and patented a new method of making tiles that reproduced various illustrations, often by famous Old Masters; these became much sought after in the early years of the 20th century and were widely used in churches and in private homes. He established his Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, Pa. (1898), where he set up a museum at his home, Fonthill, to display his tiles to the public.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.