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Apothecary Jar

DuVal, Benjamin & Co.
Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
salt glazed –stoneware
HOA: 10″; WOA: 12″
Accession Number:
Straight-sided and without handles, this salt-glazed stoneware jar may be an example of Benjamin DuVal’s advertised “1/8 gallon (or one pint)” jars. Shapes made at the Benjamin DuVal production site are similar to forms made in New York. Much of DuVal’s known factory work has minimal cobalt blue slip decorations. Thrown on the wheel, this piece is stamped “B. DuVal & Co. / Richmond” along the shoulder. The stamp is filled in with cobalt blue slip.

Salt glazing was a technique used by stoneware potters to create a glassy surface. When the pottery kiln reached over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, salt was introduced into the kiln, creating a vapor. This vapor adhered to the silica in the clay, forming a glassy appearance on the pottery. Because of the high temperature at which the pottery was fired, the clay often became non-porous, or vitrified. This, combined with the salt glazing, meant that potters did not have to apply a glaze to the interior of the vessel. It could hold liquids and not seep, unlike earthenware storage vessels.

MAKER: Benjamin DuVal was not a potter himself, but he oversaw the production of stoneware at his factory. As early as 1808 Benjamin DuVal’s pottery was producing clay roofing tiles and by 1811 had expanded production to include salt-glazed stoneware pottery. As of 2013, there were fewer than ten known intact pieces from DuVal’s manufactory that had survived. In an 1814 advertisement, DuVal noted an association with John P. Schermerhorn (1788-1850) and his pottery factory, stating that Schermerhorn “is concerned in one of my shops.” DuVal’s inventory also suggests that “a number of slaves might have been employed in the operation.”

Russ, Kurt C, Robert Hunter, Oliver Mueller-Heubach, and Marshall Goodman. “The Remarkable 19th-Century Stoneware of Virginia’s Lower James River Valley.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2013) 200-258.

Hunter, Robert and Marshall Godman. “The Destruction of the Benjamin DuVal Stoneware Manufactory, Richmond, Virginia.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2005) 37-60.

Credit Line:
The William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection