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.