Very Rare "Dave" (Enslaved African-American Potter David Drake) Edgefield, SC Civil War-era Stoneware Jug

Fall 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 169

Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.  A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2020 Auction Catalog

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Very Rare Three-Gallon Alkaline-Glazed Stoneware Jug Repurposed as a Jar, Incised "Dave / June 27. 1861," Dave at Lewis Miles' Stony Bluff Manufactory, Horse Creek Valley, Edgefield District, SC, 1861, highly-ovoid jug with applied strap handle, the surface covered in a mottled brown-to-olive-green alkaline glaze. At some point during use, the top of jug was broken and rounded out to be repurposed as a jar. Front of jar incised with the large inscription, "June 27. 1861 / Dave," with an elaborate incised flourish extending from the "D" in "Dave" partway around the potter's name. Shoulder additionally incised with two slash marks. This jug is rare on a few levels. It is one of less than ten documented Dave works from the year 1861. Only five such vessels are documented in Golberg and Witkowski's Ceramics in America 2006 article, "Beneath His Magic Touch: The Dated Vessels of the African-American Slave Potter Dave." This jug is also one of less than ten documented Dave vessels bearing his signature but lacking the initials of his owner, Lewis Miles. Only five pieces inscribed in this manner are documented in Goldberg and Witkowski. Lastly, Dave's signature, involving a large flourish, is an unusual treatment, offering insight into the pride this artisan likely took in his work despite his enslavement. This piece's survival and rebirth as a jar further emphasizes the importance of such objects, even in their day, as necessary for daily Southern life. Top of jug missing and rounded out to produce a jar. Two faint 3 1/2" lines extend from opening. A shallow 3/4" base chip and minor base wear. H 14 1/4".



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