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Drake, David
Place Made:
Edgefield County South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –alkaline-glazed
HOA: 14″; WOA: 12 1/8″
Accession Number:
MAKER: This jug was made by David Drake, one of the many slaves who worked on the pottery plantations of Edgefield County, South Carolina. Dave was first owned by Abner Landrum (1780-1859), who has been credited with establishing the first pottery, Pottersville, in the Edgefield district during the 1810s. Later Dave was owned by the pottery proprietor Lewis Miles (ca. 1809-1868). This jug is incised “LM / Aug 25 1857 / Dave.” It was thrown on a pottery wheel and is missing the handle. It is glazed in a deep brown alkaline glaze. Alkaline glaze is a mix of clay and ash or lime that acted as a flux.

Of the nearly 3000 enslaved craftsmen who have been identified by MESDA, Dave is the only one whose work we can positively identify. Despite laws prohibiting literacy among slaves, Dave was taught to read and write. His pots–more than 150 signed examples are known–testify to both his literacy and his skill as an artist. Once freed at the end of the Civil War, he adopted the more formal appellation “David” and the last name “Drake,” after one of his earliest owners.

Baldwin, Cinda K. “Great and Noble Jar: Traditional Stoneware of South Carolina.” Athens, GA: UGA Press, 1993.

Calfas, George.” NIneteenth Century Stoneware Manufacturing at Pottersville, South Carolina.” Ph.D. Diss., Department of Anthropology, Univ. of Illinois, 2013.

Wingard, Philip. “From Baltimore to the South Carolina Backcountry: Thomas Chandler’s Influence on 19th-Century Stoneware.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA, 2013, 38-76.

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