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Watkins, Henry
Place Made:
Randolph County or Guilford County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
earthenware –lead-glazed
HOA: 6 1/16″
Accession Number:
Sometimes referred to as a “fat lamp,” the upper dish was filled with a fuel, often tallow (beef fat). A wick sat in the dish, absorbed the fuel, and the end of it hung out of the pinched spout on the bowl for lighting. The dish below would catch any dripping residue. The piece is thrown on a wheel with one piece of clay. The potter likely first shaped the lower, flat dish, leaving a fair amount of clay in the center. Pulling that clay upwards, the post of the lamp was made and the dish formed from remaining clay at the top of the post. The handle is what is sometimes referred to as a strap handle. A strap handle is made by pulling or extruding a strip of clay, 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.

MAKER: Henry Watkins (b. circa 1797) was closely affiliated, and probably apprenticed, with the Quaker potter William Dennis (1769-1847) of Randolph County. In 1817, Watkins was accepted into Marlborough Monthly Meeting and two years later married Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of Obadiah and Sarah Chamness Elliott. After living and working near the Dennises, in 1837 Watkins moved into southern Guilford County where he is listed in the 1850 census as a potter.

Pugh, Hal E. and Eleanor Minnock-Pugh. “The Quaker Ceramics Tradition in Piedmont, North Carolina.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA ( 2010): 66-105.

This lamp, like the earthenware jar signed by the Quaker potter Henry Watkins (ACC 3252.1), originally belonged to Hannah Blair (1814-1880), who married Solomon Frazier (1816-1904) on January 1, 1840. The Blair and Frazier families were closely affiliated with Center and Springfield monthly meetings in southern Guilford County.
Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton