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Morgan, William H. __Attributed to
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware, saltglazed
HOA: 13 3/4″; WOA: 10 1/2″
Accession Number:
Dated pottery can be deceptive. Though one side of this piece is inscribed with the date “1781,” it was not made at that time. Rather, it was made in Baltimore to commemorate the visit of General Lafayette in 1824. A respected general in the armies of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette played a pivotal role in the defeat of the British Army at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. He returned to America in 1824 for an eleven-month tour, which included a stop in Baltimore. Many commemorative decorative items were made across the United States to honor his visits to various cities.

Based on its form, decoration, high collar, and handle shape, this salt-glazed stoneware jar is attributed to William H. Morgan. The handles were made with two pulled or extruded bars of clay applied to the vessel on either side, and then the loop of clay was turned up to make the upward sweeping shape. The swags of slip-trailed circles and the slip-trailed zig-zag line between the handles and below the base of the rim are executed in cobalt blue slip. The incised “York Town/1781” is filled in with 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.

MAKER: William H. Morgan (1796-1864) was born into one of Baltimore’s most prominent Quaker potting families. His father, Thomas Morgan (c. 1770-1842) opened the city’s firsts stoneware pottery in 1794. Between 1818 and 1823, Morgan worked with his uncle, Thomas Amoss (1786-1822) and, after the dissolution of their partnership, he returned to the site of his father’s shop at the corner of Pitt and Green Streets. 1827 was the last year that William H. Morgan was listed as a full-time professional potter in Baltimore city directories.

Hunter, Robert. “Specializing in the Diverse: A Journey in Ten Ceramic Objects.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2014): 169-187.

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

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

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