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Chandler, Thomas
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –salt-glazed
HOA: 10 3/4″; WOA: 7″
Accession Number:
Incised with the scene of a farmhouse, a woman churning butter, and a very detailed landscape, this important churn was made by Thomas Chandler in Baltimore. It is incised with the date “1829” and all of the incised decoration is filled and accented with cobalt blue slip. The churn is made of stoneware clay and is salt glazed. The high collar, as well as the shoulder below the neck, has incised lines with brushed cobalt blue slip. On opposite sides of the shoulder, lug handles are placed against the side of the churn. The top and underside of the handles are brushed with cobalt blue slip, and a foliate design is brushed below the cup of the handle on both sides. The base is incised, “Thomas M. Chandler / Maker / Baltimore / August / 12/ 1829.” The name “Mitchel Chandler” is incised above the 1829 date on the side of the churn, likely Thomas Chandler’s uncle.

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: Thomas Mitchel Chandler, Jr. (1810-1854) was born in Accomack County, Virginia. His family moved to Baltimore in 1817 and there Thomas developed into an extraordinary potter. Thomas’s future was partly determined by his father’s move to Baltimore. As a chairmaker, Chandler’s father bought property in a district with many other craftspeople, including five major potters: Henry Remmey, Sr., Henry Myers, David Parr, Elisha Parr, and William Amoss. Henry Myers probably trained Thomas Chandler; Chandler’s first dated and signed piece resembles pieces made in Henry Myers’s shop in the 1820s.

Thomas Chandler left Baltimore in 1829 and between 1829 and 1832 may have traveled as an itinerant potter. In 1832 he was in Albany, New York, where he enlisted in the U.S. Army. The Army sent Chandler south to Augusta, Georgia, and between 1832 and 1836 he served in various capacities and likely worked with several potters in Georgia. Scholar Philip Wingard estimates that Chandler was in Edgefield, South Carolina, working by 1836, since several of his pieces with decorative slip work and dated 1836 have survived in the region. He worked in various pottery factories and with various partners in the region until he had his own shop by 1850. In 1852, though, he and his family moved to North Carolina where he died in 1854.

Wingard, Phillip. “From Baltimore to the South Carolina Backcountry: Thomas Chandler’s Influence on 19th-Century Stoneware.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA, 2013, 38-76.

This elaborately decorated churn descended in Thomas Chandler’s family on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It was made for his uncle Mitchell Chandler, whose name is incised ont he churn and iin whose line it directly descended. The sides of the churn depict scenes from the original Chandler family farmstead in Accomack County.
Credit Line:
The William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection