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Buck Family Pottery
Place Made:
Wythe County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 8 3/4; DIA: 4 3/8
Accession Number:
This copper green-glazed earthenware jar features extruded handles applied to the sides of the jar and impressed with the fingers of its maker. It has incised banding on the shoulder above the handle terminals. The clay is relatively dark with a significant percentage of iron. The jar is coated entirely with the green (copper) glaze. Clear lead glazes or those colored with black iron oxide were more common and less expensive; the green copper glaze on this jar was a more expensive option.

It is an excellent example of what is referred to as “Great Road” pottery, following the valley from southwest Virginia to northeast Tennessee. Great Road jars are noted for their large extruded handles, robust ovoid bodies, and tight, sometimes high necks as seen on this particular jar.

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.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton