Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More on Stoneware

One of the very distinct 17th and 18th century artifacts we find at Port Tobacco (and now Chandler’s Town?) is gray salt glazed stoneware called Westerwald or Rhenish. These vessels came in a variety of forms, most often as drinking mugs. Jim mentioned in a previous blog about finding several sherds of this type in a field south of the courthouse and may have been indicative of a tavern site.

Drinking vessels were imported, as were simple lozenge-shaped mineral water bottles in the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of Rhenish blue and gray stoneware vessel forms are found on American archaeological sites. Elaborate panel bottles occur on some of the earliest sites. Tankards and mugs were introduced after ca. 1650. Chamber pots became popular at the beginning of the 18th century, and along with mugs, tankards, pitchers, and jugs are the most common form on Chesapeake sites. By the mid-18th century, the rise of English refined earthenware and molded white salt-glazed stoneware led to a decline in the popularity of Westerwald-type tablewares among wealthy Chesapeake households, but storage and sanitary vessels were still used.

In their original form, the drinking mugs were often fitted with pewter lids that were operated with the thumb. Finding these lids intact today is rare as the lids could easily be removed and the metal sold during tough economic times. The mugs that did have the lids are recognized by the hole left in the top portion of the handle.

A popular style in the 18th century was the “GR” incised mugs. Named for Kings George (George Rex) I, II, or III, they were imported to England and then to the American colonies. A variation is the “AR” mugs named for Queen Anne (Anne Regina).

1 comment:

Dancing Willow said...

These are absolutely beautiful pictures. I recognize some of them!