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Filtering Water Cooler

Herrmann, Peter __Attributed to
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
salt glazed –stoneware
HOA: 24 1/2″; WOA: 12 3/4″
Accession Number:
It is rare for a filtering water cooler such as this example to survive with all of its parts intact. The parts include a lid; a tall, cylindrical, handled jar for the base; and an ovoid, handled jar with attached filter reservoir. All of the stoneware parts were thrown on a pottery wheel and salt glazed with no additional applied glaze on the interior. The base of the cooler has a squared opening where a wooden spigot would have been placed for dispensing the water. Attached to the bottom of the upper ovoid jar is a thrown cylinder that has small piercings at the base of the cylinder. The base of the upper ovoid jar was cut away so the cylinder could be attached, creating one elongated form. This cylinder sits down into the lower cylindrical jar and acts as the reservoir for the filtration system. At the interior base of the ovoid upper jar are three tabs of clay approximately ¾ of an inch above the edge of the base. These tabs likely held something used for securing the charcoal stored in the cylinder below.

Salt glazing is 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.

Filtering water coolers began to be advertised in the mid-nineteenth century following a rise in improved hygiene and sanitation encouraged by etiquette books and public works projects

MAKER: The decoration on this piece, with numerous brushed cobalt blue three-petaled flower designs, is often associated with the pottery of Peter Herrmann (1825-1901). Herrmann migrated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1844 from Bremen, Germany. In 1855 he was identified as a potter in the city directory, though it is likely he was making pottery prior to that. He continued making pottery through 1899, two years prior to his death.

Kille, John E. “Distinguishing Marks and Flowering Designs: Baltimore’s Utilitarian Stoneware Industry.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2005) 93-132.

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