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Water Cooler

Chandler, Thomas
Place Made:
Greenwood County South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –alkaline-glazed
HOA: 20″; DIA; 14″
Accession Number:
This monumental cooler is wheel-thrown and decorated with white slip-trailed floral designs that follow the shoulder of the piece. Two opposing strap handles stand prominently on the shoulder of the jug. 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. Stamped “CHANDLER / MAKER.”

MAKER: Thomas Mitchel Chandler, Jr. was born in Virginia in 1810. His family moved to Baltimore in 1817 and there his career developed as an extraordinary potter. He left Baltimore in 1829 and between 1829 and 1832 may have traveled as an itinerant potter. In 1832 he was in Albany, New York where he enlisted in the U.S. Army. The army brought Chandler south to Augusta, Georgia and between 1832 and 1836 he served in various capacities and likely worked with several potters in Georgia. Scholar Philip Wingard estimates that Chandler was in Edgefield working by 1836 based on decorative slip work on several dated pieces from 1836. In 1850, Chandler began his own pottery factory where he marked his wares “CHANDLER / MAKER” as seen on this water cooler. At this site, south of Edgefield, he also achieved the clearest and most uniform celadon-looking alkaline glaze seen on most Edgefield District jars from the first half of the nineteenth-century. In 1852 though, he and his family left for North Carolina where he died in 1854.

Wingard, Philip. “From Baltimore to the South Carolina Backcountry: Thomas Chandler’s Influence on 19th-Century Stoneware,” Ceramics in America, 2013)

Credit Line:
Loan Courtesy of C. Philip and Corbett Toussaint