Collections › MESDA Collection › Jar


Parr, Elisha
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
salt glazed –stoneware
HOA: 15 3/8″; WOA: 13 1/2″
Accession Number:
Thrown on a pottery wheel, this large, ovoid jar is exquisitely decorated with a sailing ship with sails unfurled. The decoration is incised on one side of the jar and filled in with brushed cobalt blue slip. The handles are pulled clay that was placed on the shoulder of the jar horizontally and then cut off at the ends, creating lug handles.The decorative techniques used in Baltimore included incising, slip trailing, and brushed cobalt blue slip.

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

The unevenness of the rim is a reminder that even a decorated piece of stoneware was still considered functional and thus placed among other pieces during the kiln firing. The warping and slumping of the shoulder is a result of the jar’s being between two other vessels, with pieces of kiln furniture between the wares to keep them from sticking to one another. However, the shoulder of the jar may not have had enough clay to withstand the weight of the other vessels, and consequently it buckled and became misshapen during the kiln firing.

MAKER: Based on its form, decoration, and clay, this salt-glazed stoneware jar can be firmly attributed to Baltimore, Maryland, and to the shop of Elisha Parr (1782-1834). The brushed cobalt blue tuilip decoration on the back of the jar is identical to that seen on a surviving pitcher stamped “E. Parr.” Parr probably learned the technique of incised cobalt decoration, used to produce the ship on the jar’s front, during his three-year partnership from 1815 to 1818 with William Myers and association with Henry Remmey at the Baltimore Stoneware Manufactory. Elisha’s family included a number of important stoneware potters including his brother David Parr (1786-1832) and his nephew David Parr (1819-1882), who migrated from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia in the 1850s.

Zipp, Luke. “Baltimore Stoneware.” ANTIQUES AND FINE ART (Summer 2006): 154-158.

Kille, John E. “Distinguishing Marks and Flowering Designs: Baltimore’s Utilitarian Stoneware Industry.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2005): 93-132.

Credit Line:
The William C. and Susan S. Mariner Collection