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Covered Jar

Buck, Christian __Attributed to
Place Made:
Wythe County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
lead glazed earthenware
HOA: 15 7/8″; WOA: 8 1/2″
Accession Number:
Historic pottery can often have a contemporary and playful appeal, as is the case with this lidded jar. With whimsically looped handles and a vivid color palette, this lead-glazed earthenware jar has a wonderfully bulbous body with a narrow, tapered and tooled foot. The handles have indentations at the terminals. The decorations are slip trailed in copper green and white slip; the white slip under the lead glaze appears yellow. Lead glaze was made up primarily of a lead oxide, most often red lead, that was ground, mixed with a clay so that the mixture would adhere to the pottery, and made liquid with water. Earthenware is a porous material and must have an applied glaze in order to hold liquids. This jar has a high neck and a series of incised lines at the top and toward the base, with a sine-wave pattern incised between the lines. On the front and back of the jar is a similarly designed oval foliate motif with leaves at either end.

This jar is comparable to several extant jars with similar handles, lids, form and decoration made in Wythe County,Virginia. It is decorated with incised lines and sine waves on the both the shoulder and above the base of the jar. The copper green and white slip decoration seen on this particular jar – with lines and sine waves on the lid, and interlocking s-surves in one of the two central medallions – appears to be inspired by the same motifs that appear on much of the Moravian and Albright/Loy pottery made in North Carolina.

MAKER: Johann Christian Buck (1769-1846) was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to North Carolina as a child with his family around 1780. Growing up on the Brushy Fork of Abbot’s Creek in present-day Davidson County, he would have been exposed to the Germanic potting traditions established by the nearby Moravians at Wachovia and the Albright/Loy family in Alamance County. In 1796, he moved to Wythe County, Virginia, married Christina Steffey, and established a family of potters that worked throughout the 19th century. Buck’s 1815 tax record noted that he owned a 366-acre farm on the south fork of Reedy Creek in Wythe County with three cabins, a small barn, and a potter’s kiln. Two of his sons, Abraham Buck (1798-1863) and John Christian Buck (1801-1879); his son-in-law Eli Cain (1815-1880); and three of his grandsons, Peter Buck (1826-1880), Felix Buck (1827-1889), and Ephraim Buck (1833-1909), were all identified as potters in US census records.

Moore, J. Roderick. “Earthenware potters along the Great Road in Virginia and Tennessee.” The Magazine Antiques, September 1983.

White, Betsy K. “Great Road Style.” Charlottesville: UVA Press, 2006.

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