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Wood, John ||Wood, Ezekiel
Place Made:
Maysville Kentucky United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –cobalt decoration –salt-glazed
HOA: 15-7/8″; WOA: 11″ from handle to handle
Accession Number:
Likely stored in a cellar or springhouse, this bellied, ovoid crock measuring 15 7/8 inches in height is stenciled in cobalt blue slip,“J&E WOOD/Maysville, KY/1845.” It serves as a representative example of preserving large amounts of vegetables or meat through pickling or potting. Historic recipes often call for the use of stoneware vessels in pickling and potting meat because of the knowledge of lead poisoning. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell specifies in her New System of Domestic Cookery published in 1814 under “Rules to be observed with Pickles” that “Pickles should never be put into [lead] glazed jars, as salt and vinegar penetrate the glaze, which is poisonous.” Potting meat was a method of preserving using butter and fat, in order to store partially cooked meats for several months. Recipes such as a “Coarse Mince-Meat” in Lettice Bryan’s Kentucky Housewife often specify the use of a “stone jar” for preserving meats. The ovoid jar is made of stoneware and is salt glazed. It has no additional glaze on the interior.Two pulled handles were placed on opposite sides against the shoulder in order to make what is often referred to as “lug” handles.

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. Evidence on the pottery reveals the nature of stacking used inside of the kiln in order to fire the vessels. In firing a salt-glazed stoneware kiln, kiln furniture is necessary as a buffer between the pieces of pottery in order to keep the glass created by the salt firing from adhering the vessels to one another. Kiln furniture was often made with the same clay as the vessels, sometimes with additional grog or sand mixed in, and then rolled in sand in order to further protect the vessels. This jar has five curved kiln furniture markings on the base and five curved markings on the rim, implying that curved bars protected the vessel when placed between two other vessels stacked inside of the kiln. Small remnants of sand on the base of the vessel near the shadows of kiln furniture implies that Wood’s kiln furniture had a heavy application of sand, or a heavy application of salt in the kiln causing the sand to stick to the vessel.

MAKER: John Thomas Wood, born in 1808, died in 1864 in Kentucky, while his brother Ezekiel, born in 1817, died in 1900 in Boone County, Missouri. An 1883 publication from St. Louis, Missouri described Ezekiel Wood as a “successful farmer, and is well–to-do in life.” It goes on to state, that farming was not the only industry he followed, “He was engaged in ‘flat-boating’ to and from New Orleans for some time in an early day, and later he was a manufacturer of stoneware” (St. Louis National Historical Company, History of Howard and Cooper Counties, (St. Louis: National Historical Company, 1883): 543-568. ) The 1850 census of manufacture also reveals that Jesse Wood (1779-1857), the father of John and Ezekiel, was also a potter in Maysville.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund.