Stephen B. Sweeney (1799-1863)
Henrico County native Stephen Booker Sweeney may have trained in the shop of Samuel Frayser. In 1838, he bought land on the north side of the James River, adding parcels over the next two decades to create a tract he dubbed “Claymount.” The pottery included several kilns and a house which doubled as a hotel. In 1854, he acquired the lands where the first Randolph, Amoss, and Frayser potteries had been located. Sweeney’s stoneware provides tantalizing stylistic links to the Frayser, Amoss and Schermerhorn potteries. During the Civil War, Claymount was decimated by conflicts that leveled much of the surrounding area. Sweeney died in 1862, and his remaining stock was sold at auction. Sweeney’s Hotel & Pottery lives to this day as a noted landmark in the diaries and accounts of Civil War soldiers.
This five-gallon storage jar is a masterpiece of the Sweeney pottery. It displays a striking well-defined incised and cobalt filled rooster, or game cock, standing on horizontal cobalt festoons similar to those seen on other surviving Sweeney and Schermerhorn vessels, and wasters found on the site of his pottery.