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Flower Pot

Jordan, Lucius
Place Made:
Washington County Georgia United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –alkaline-glazed
HOA: 7 3/4″; DIA: 8″
Accession Number:
This unusual wheel-thrown form has a wide center opening with a ruffled band near the rim. A break in the ruffled edge shows that the rim was rolled, meaning the clay was folded over at the top before the decoration was made. On the sides are four openings made by throwing narrow tubes of clay and then applying them to the sides; then central holes were cut from the main body of the piece.This form is similar in style and design to what is often called a “quintal vase,” a piece with a central opening and four openings surrounding it. This pot is glazed on the interior and exterior with a deep green alkaline glaze. Alkaline glaze is a mix of clay and ash or lime that acted as a flux.

Beneath the glaze, a series of inscribed decorations can be seen, including a looped pattern around the rim and a cross-hatched design on the sides. This piece is signed three times by Lucius Jordan. On the interior wall the potter inscribed his initials, “LJ.” On the exterior his initials “LJ” are found between two of the side openings and within an inscribed diamond. A hole centrally located in the base for drainage would imply that this piece was more likely a planter rather than a vase. With its detailed inscriptions and elaborate decorations, it could have also acted as a presentation piece.

MAKER: Lucius Jordan (1816-1880) was born in Georgia, and an 1836 tax list from Washington County, Georgia, suggests that Jordan was a free person of color, perhaps of mixed race. Not until the 1860 census was Jordan’s profession listed as “Jug Maker.” His brother Elbert Jordan (b. 1818) was also listed as a “Jug Maker” in the 1860 census. Lucius Jordan likely trained as a potter under Abraham Massey (b. 1785) and/or Cyrus Cogburn (1782-1855), two of Washington County’s prominent potters. Both Cogburn and Massey first worked in Edgefield, South Carolina, at various shops, including that of Abner Landrum, one of the eminent shop owners in early Edgefield. Often Jordan’s shapes are ovoid and all are alkaline-glazed. He is one of very few Washington County potters to mark their work, incising in script his initials, “LJ” or simply “J.”

Burrison, John A. “Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery.” Athens, GA: UGA Press, 1983.

The flower pot descended in the Harley family of Hancock County, Georgia, which is immediately adjacent to Washington County where Lucius Jordon lived and worked. According to Wofford Julian Harley, Jr. (1928-2014), it was used for ornamental display in the garden and brought into the house during the winter. He recalled that it originally had a matching stand, which broke during his childhood and from that point on it was kept inside the house year-round. Harley suggested that its original owner was his great-grandmother, Mary Lucinda (Battle) Harley (1819-1890), and that it had been at the Harley property, Woodside Plantation, since it was originally purchased. Georgia Museum of Art curator Dale Couch notes that the Harley homestead was located at the present-day junction of Highway 16 and Old Dixie Highway, outside of Sparta, Georgia.
Credit Line:
The William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection