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Craven, William Nicholas
Place Made:
Randolph County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –salt-glazed
HOA: 14-11/16″; DIA of base: 6-3/4″
Accession Number:
In a cobalt blue slip-trailed design, this salt-glazed stoneware jug declares, “S[t]ate/ of N.C./ Randolph / County.” Stamped on the neck “W.N. CRAVEN,” this was made in the shop of William Nicholas Craven, prior to his move to Missouri in 1857. On both sides of the jug is a brushed cobalt blue starburst design, and a smaller, similar design is brushed below the handle terminal. A handle, often called a “strap handle” extends from the neck of the jug to below the shoulder and ends in a tapered point. A strap handle is made by pulling a strip of clay and then placing one end of the strip against the vessel, then looping it out to make the handle shape. This differs from a handle that is pulled from the vessel after the clay is attached, usually at the neck.

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: William Nicholas Craven (1820-1903) likely worked for his father Anderson Craven in Randolph County, North Carolina, until he set up his own shop near Moffitt’s Mill around 1845. In the 1850 census Craven reported that he employed eleven workers and made 10,000 gallons of stoneware each year. He continued production until he moved to Missouri in 1857. Three of William Nicholas Craven’s sons were also potters.

Scarborough, Quincy. The Craven Family of Southern Folk Potters. Fayetteville, NC: privately published, 2005.

Credit Line:
Anonymous gift in honor of W. Ted Gossett.