It’s true … Medalta has a 3,000 year warranty on pottery produced in its factory. Former Medalta Manager Charles Pratt made sure of that when he made the bold proclamation to the entire nation back in 1928. He said “if a piece of Medalta pottery wears out before 3,000 years – even at the end of the twenty-ninth hundred year, bring it back and we will cheerfully refund the original purchase price.”
When we first realized that this promise had been made, we have to admit we panicked. Probably tens of thousands of pieces of Medalta ware had been distributed between 1914 & 1954! And now we have a gift shop which makes thousands more!
Secret late-night meetings were held to figure out how to deal with the terrifying prospect of the “3,000 Year Warranty.” Hands were wrung. Coffee was drank. Fingers were pointed as we tried desperately to find a way out of this terrifying mess.
As the sun came up after hours of meetings, we started to calm down.
We realized the reason Pratt made such a fantastic statement was that he had such confidence in his company’s product that he couldn’t imagine a piece ever wearing out. Sure, they’d break if they fell from a table. But we’d be looking into the table’s warranty in that case.
We still see these crocks in use after all these years … as planters and kitchen utensil holders. People still make wine in them and use them as rain barrels.
A Worn Out Crock
So what does a worn-out piece of Medalta ware look like? Well, to be honest we have no idea. We’ve never seen one. And we have over 30,000 pieces in our museum collection. But we imagine they’d have some of the following features …
1. The Medalta stamp has worn off
2. A hole has been worn in the piece through use – you know, like whipping frosting in one of our bowls … for about 2,000 years or so …
3. Through centuries of drinking coffee, the rim and handle of the coffee mug has been worn away.
A Little Mathematical Perspective …
We’re about 84 years into the 3,000 Year Warranty. Now, under normal circumstances, 84 years would be considered pretty good (how long is your car’s warranty, for example?). But this is Medalta. 84 years is a drop in the bucket. In fact, it’s about 0.28% of the full warranty.
Let’s compare that to a standard 1-year warranty on, say, a fridge (which essentially replaced Medalta crocks as food storage items).
0.28% of 365 days (in a year …) = 0.84 days
(If we’ve done our math right … if we haven’t, please let us know!)
That’s only 20 hours! So if that 1-year car warranty started at midnight, you’d be just finishing a nice dinner at around 8:00 in the evening.
The 3,000 Year Warranty, in comparison, brings you 84 years into the future.