Collections › MESDA Collection › Mug


Bell, Solomon
Place Made:
Strasburg Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
earthenware –lead-glazed
HOA: 4 7/8″; DIA: 4 1/4″
Accession Number:
Attributed to Solomon Bell working in Strasburg, Virginia, the shape of this mug, including the rim and foot detailing, is seen on other mugs made by Bell during the same time period. Thrown on a wheel, the mug is made of earthenware clay. It is coated with a either a white glaze that has yellowed from the use of red lead in the recipe, or coated with a yellow glaze. H.E. Comstock in his Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region notes a yellow glaze used by the Bell family. A band of copper green slip was brushed over the white slip to make an arrow pattern that circles the mug. The flecking seen in the glaze is likely iron or manganese inclusions in the glaze that came to the surface during the firing.

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. This particular handle was extruded and has four ridges.

MAKER: Solomon Bell was the youngest of Peter Bell’s sons to make pottery. Peter Bell was a prominent potter in Hagerstown, Maryland and Winchester, Virginia. Solomon trained for many years under his father before leaving in 1839 for several years to work with his brother John in Waynesboro. Solomon Bell started marketing his pottery in Winchester, Virginia in 1843, and then moved to Strasburg in 1845 where he worked in partnership with his brother Samuel throughout the 1850s.

Comstock, H. E. Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region. Winston-Salem, NC: MESDA, 1994.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Dan Drummond