Great and Noble Jar

Traditional Stoneware of South Carolina

Title Details

Pages: 264

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 04/01/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4616-8

List Price: $39.95

eBook

Pub Date: 04/01/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4701-1

List Price: $44.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Friends Fund

Great and Noble Jar

Traditional Stoneware of South Carolina

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In Great and Noble Jar, Cinda K. Baldwin offers the first authoritative study of South Carolina stoneware and traces the ways in which a rich regional tradition emerged from a unique cultural source.

As Baldwin notes, South Carolina's old legislative district of Edgefield (an area now comprising Edgefield, Aiken, and Greenwood counties) has long been recognized as the place of origin for an alkaline-glazing process that came to characterize pottery produced throughout the lower South. The process developed during the early nineteenth century after the poisonous properties of lead-glazed stoneware became known. Abner Landrum, a newspaper editor and scientific farmer, was probably the first to combine locally available materials with Chinese glaze formulas to produce this new and safer alkaline-glazed stoneware.

The plantation operations of the Edgefield District, Baldwin shows, created a demand for large-scale food storage and preservation, often in containers of huge capacity. In response to this need, an extensive system of family-owned stoneware factories emerged. Reflecting the contributions of the many slaves and freed blacks who worked in the industry, the objects produced in these factories often incorporated African designs and techniques. Particularly notable were the "grotesques," or "voodoo jugs"-wheel-thrown vessels onto which the slave potters applied facial features in molded clay. Baldwin pays special attention to the remarkable work of a slave potter named Dave, who marked his wares with brief verse inscriptions, including this one found on a large food-storage container: "Great & Noble Jar, /hold sheep, goat, and bear."

Tracing the tradition's history through the post-Civil War period and the first half of the twentieth century, Baldwin also examines South Carolina pottery outside the Edgefield District and analyzes a variety of decorative treatments and forms. She concludes with a consideration of the decline and renewal of the southern folk pottery tradition.

The book is illustrated with nearly two hundred photographs (including fifteen color plates), maps, and drawings. Complementing earlier studies that focused on Georgia and North Carolina pottery, Great and Noble Jar is a significant contribution to the understanding of this heritage.

Well documented and beautifully illustrated.

South by Southeast

About the Author/Editor

CINDA K. BALDWIN has worked as registrar at McKissick Museum, the University of South Carolina. Her research for this project was supported by McKissick Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The publication of this volume was supported in part by McKissick Museum.