Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More early ceramics

Hi all!

Our last blog took a quick look at 18th-century Westerwald stoneware. This blog features another early ceramic found in one of our units next to the Burch House and that type is...North Devon!

North Devon is a brown lead-glazed earthenware dating to the mid-late 17th Century and early 18th Century. The paste is generally coarse, with a pinkish orange color over a gray core. The gray core is the result of reduced oxygen during firing. This ceramic comes in a few different varieties including gravel-tempered, gravel-free, and Scgraffito. Scgraffito may be the most distinguishable with an incised brown slip on a yellow background, as shown in the image to the above right.

Our large rim piece from Port Tobacco is North Devon gravel-free and some of the smaller sherds are gravel-tempered. The gray core is not particularly visible on the large gravel-free rim(see above for front and back views), though it is quite clear on a side profile of the gravel-tempered sherds (image below). It should be noted that the term "gravel-tempered" is a bit of a misnomer, as while I was cataloging these sherds Jim pointed out that North Devon ceramics were actually tempered with sand, not gravel.

In this region North Devon wares date to the late 17th Century. I have to admit, with a wonky two-toned paste and a yellowish/greenish to brown lead glaze I do not find North Devon to be the most attractive ceramic, but it sure is fascinating to find! These wares usually came in the form of milk pans or butter pots, though other wares for food preparation and consumption are also common. North Devon scgraffito wares were gradually replaced with white tablewares such as tin-glazed earthenware, and the more utilitarian gravel-free and gravel-tempered were phased out as Buckley-type wares became more common.

As always, please click on the images for a better, clearer view--especially to get a look at the two-toned paste. Also, thanks to Jefferson Patterson Park for the information and Scgraffito image.

Tomorrow we return to our excavations at the Burch House in Port Tobacco. Hope to see some of you there!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Return of the blog!

Hi folks!

I am happy to report that we are returning to the blog more regularly as we continue our work at the Burch and Swann houses in Port Tobacco. It has been wonderful to have volunteers helping out each day we have been working, and their screening sure has produced some great finds!

One of these finds is a piece of 18th-century Rhenish stoneware. Now, I know we have blogged about Westerwald many times, but this is the first time we have found a sherd with an identifiable "GR." These letters stand for "George Rex," King George I, II, or III, and were stamped on vessels exported to the colonies from England. Since our blogging has surely helped you all become experts on Westerwald instead of repeating dates, names, and styles I will try to clear up some confusion regarding the terms "Rhenish" versus "Westerwald."

Rhenish broadly refers to an early salt-glazed stoneware that is either categorized as brown or blue and gray. Both types were exported to the colonies, though the blue and gray variety dominated the market from the late 17th into the 18th Century. Rhenish blue and gray stoneware was first made in Raeren, Germany in the mid-16th Century, but by the end of the century the majority of its production had been moved to Westerwald, also in Germany. These wares were called Westerwald, and happen to be the most common type of Rhenish found in the Chesapeake region.

So now, instead of just showing you this photo from Jefferson Patterson Park as an example...

I can present to you Port Tobacco's very own partial "GR!"

We plan on being back out in the field tomorrow from 9 to 3--look for us over near the Swann House foundation. I hope to see some of you folks there!