Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the cataloging continues...

In light of the less than cooperative weather Anne and I have returned indoors to continue cataloging artifacts from the Swann House foundation. To the right you will find a small sherd of black basalt stoneware from the surface collection of the foundation, a type of ceramic I have come across only a few times at Port Tobacco.

Black basalt stoneware is in the family of English dry-bodied stoneware, which also consists of red stonewares and jasperwares. Within these three varieties there are also considerable color variations. These unglazed wares usually come in the form of teapots and the earlier wares are decorated with sprig molding (the attachment of decorative pieces of clay) or molded reliefs. The black basalt variety is fired in a reduced atmosphere (without oxygen), which results in the black coloration, while the red stonewares (see the image at left) are fired in an oxidized atmosphere, resulting in a red color. Red stonewares were made as early as the late 17th century, while black basalt stonewares were produced after 1750.

As the popularity of the red dry-bodied stoneware declined, the black basalt remained popular for tea services and vases, especially during times of mourning. Its production continued into the 20th century.

Thanks to Ivor Noel Hume and the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum for the information.


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