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Bell, Peter
Place Made:
Winchester Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
earthenware –lead-glazed
HOA: 4 7/8″; DIA: 22 3/4″
Accession Number:
This massive slip-decorated bowl made by Peter Bell Jr. in Winchester, Virginia, is the earliest piece of marked pottery from the northern Shenandoah Valley. Peter Bell moved to Winchester in 1824 from Hagerstown, Maryland, and worked there until his retirement in early 1845. This bowl is stamped three times on the base with “P. BELL.” Work associated with Bell in Hagerstown is not known to have been stamped, and it is not until he moved to Winchester that he began to stamp his work (Comstock 100-101).

DESCRIPTION: Thrown on a wheel, the interior or cavetto of the bowl has a gentle slope and the rim or marley is wide with a squared edge. Alternating bands of white and manganese brown slip were applied to the rim and interior with overlapping undulations of opposite colors on two bands. The lead glaze applied to the interior of the bowl splashed over the rim and coated some of the underside of the bowl. A manganese wash on the interior of the bowl created a darkened brown surface at the center. Two wide, pulled, lug handles are opposite one another on the underside of the rim. With the upper part of the handles smoothed into the surface of the dish, the handles form a small cup shape and have indentations at the terminals.

MAKER: Peter Bell was a prominent potter in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Winchester, Virginia. Although few examples of his work are known, a prodigious body of pottery survives from the shops of his sons John (1800-1880), Samuel (1811-1891), and Solomon (1817-1882). A rare survival, the account book of Peter Bell kept between 1804 and 1844, is in the collection of the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia (a copy is in the library at MESDA).

Comstock, H. E. Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region. Winston-Salem, NC: MESDA, 1994.

It was acquired from a family in Hagerstown, Maryland, descendants of the Bell family.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. Titus Geesey