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Chandler, Thomas
Place Made:
Edgefield County South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
Alkaline-glazed stoneware
HOA: 15 1/4″; WOA: 8 1/2″
Accession Number:
This alkaline-glazed stoneware churn exemplifies how potters carried their training and traditions to the various shops in which they worked. This churn, though not signed, was likely made by Thomas Chandler. The shape of the collar and overall form is very similar to a dated 1829 salt-glazed stoneware churn (MESDA Acc. 5813.47) made by Thomas Chandler in Baltimore before he made his way to South Carolina. It has a high collar and lug handles that are placed against the side of the churn on opposite sides of the shoulder. The churn has an overall pallid green alkaline glaze applied to the interior and exterior, although it was not glazed all the way to the exterior base. Alkaline glaze is a mix of clay and ash or lime that acted as a flux. Finger indentations at the base show that the churn was likely lifted off the pottery wheel after it was thrown while it was still wet, and moved to another location to dry. The rim is thinner than the base walls, but the vessel is overall fairly heavy, a quality that was determined by the nature of the clay the potter used. On either side of the churn is a characteristic loose floral design often attributed to Thomas Chandler. An iron slip was used to brush on a flower, stem, and two abstract leaves; a white slip trailing was applied as an accent color. The decoration was brushed on before the alkaline glaze was applied.

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.

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 left for 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.

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