Collections › MESDA Collection › Jar


Schermerhorn, John Poole
Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware, salt-glazed
HOA: 12″; WOA: 9″; DOA: 6″
Accession Number:
This salt-glazed stoneware jar made in the shop of John Poole Shermerhorn is stamped on the shoulder of the jar, “Richmond Factory/Virga./J.P.Schermerhorn.” Schermerhorn’s stamp includes a foliate flourishes on either side of “Virginia.” Thrown on a wheel and having strap handles that are flush with the side of the vessel and pinched at the ends, the jar has a characteristic ovoid shape, pronounced neck, and strong rims that are often rounded on top and angular underneath. A vine and rounded floral motif is brushed on the surface in blue cobalt slip.

Salt glazing is a technique used by stoneware potters to create the glassy surface. When the pottery kiln reached over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, salt was introduced to the kiln, creating a vapor. This vapor adhered to the silica in the clay, forming a glass. From the high temperature, the clay is often non-porous, or vitrified. This, combined with the salt glazing, allowed the potters to not have to apply a glaze to the interior of the vessel. It could hold liquids and not seep, unlike earthenware storage vessels.

MAKER: Born in New York, John Poole Schermerhorn (1788-1850) first appeared in Virginia records as a potter in 1814. Schermerhorn was briefly employed at Benjamin DuVal’s factory before leaving to pursue pottery production under his own name in 1817. He located his pottery at Rockett’s, a primary port in Richmond, Virginia and was very successful between 1817-1837. Schermerhorn had an additional pottery located outside of Richmond at Montezuma, established in 1828.

Russ, Kurt C. and W. Sterling Schermerhorn. “Rockett’s Red Glare: John P. Schermerhorn and the Early Richmond-Area Stoneware Industry.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2005) 61-92.

Russ, Kurt, Robert Hunter, Oliver Mueller-Heuback, Marshall Goodman. “The Remarkable 19th-Century Stoneware of Virginia’s Lower James River Valley.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2013) 200-258.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay Grigsby