HISTORY: This bottle was found in Randolph County, North Carolina, which is between Alamance and Forsyth counties. Moravian potters made thrown ﬂasks, bottles, and other utilitarian forms long before introducing press-molded variants around 1800. Moravian potters in North Carolina made press-molded earthenware for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. The range of forms documented by surviving objects, molds, and references in pottery inventories is far greater than that of any contemporary American ceramic tradition. From smoking pipes to stove tiles, the Moravian potters at Bethabara and Salem expanded the production of press-molded earthenware to include figural bottles and casters, non-figural bottles, and toys. A molded flask with a stylized ﬂower may represent one of the “57 bottles” listed in the 1810 inventory of the Salem pottery or one of the sixty green bottles listed in the 1824 inventory.
MAKER: Rudolph Christ can be credited for the successful production and marketing of press-molded figural wares during his tenure as master of the pottery at Salem (1789–1821). Rudolph Christ apprenticed under Gottfried Aust in Salem, North Carolina. He established his own pottery in Bethabara in 1786 and worked there until 1789. He succeeded Aust as master potter in Salem from 1789 to 1821. (Ceramics in America 2009). The use of press-molded wares also continued through the tenure of John Holland, who apprenticed under Rudolph Christ and as noted in Moravian records, inherited molds used in Christ’s shop. Rudolph Christ retired in 1821 and John Holland took over as Salem’s third master potter. His tenure was short lived, however, and the pottery ceased to operate as a congregational business in 1829.
Brown, Johanna. “Tradition and Adaptation in Press-Molded Earthenware.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2009): 105-138.
Moravian potters made thrown ﬂasks, bottles, and other utilitarian formlong before introducing press-molded variants around 1800. During the ﬁrst quarter of the nineteenth century, the variety of ﬁgural objects listedin the pottery inventories expanded with each passing year. A molded flask with a stylized ﬂower may represent one of the “57 bottles” listed inthe 1810 inventory of the Salem pottery or one of the sixty green bottles listed in the 1824 inventory. In 1819 the stock-in-trade of the Salem pottery included eighty-four eagle bottles and plaster molds for producing two different sizes. Of the three bottles known to survive, all are the same size and have green glaze applied on a white slip. The 1819 inventory also listed one hundred and seventy-five “ladies” in three different sizes. Children enjoyed press-molded wares specially designed for them including doll heads to which cloth bodies could be attached. A ﬁgural form likely inspired by contact with Native Americans was the so-called “Indian.” The ceramic Indians listed at 10 shillings each in the 1806 inventory were the most expensive bottles made at the Salem pottery. No examples of this figure or its molds are known to survive.