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Christ, Rudolph __Workshop of
Place Made:
Salem North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 6 1/2″
Accession Number:
This wheel thrown, footed bottle is a precursor to the press-molded bottles that became popular in production at the Moravian pottery in the early nineteenth-century. The neck and foot were thrown on the wheel separate from the body of the bottle and applied when the clay was dried slightly. It was coated with a white slip, then manganese and copper slips were daubed onto the surface creating mottled polychrome beneath the lead glaze. Though the neck has been replaced, this is the only known intact bottle with this decoration. Although most of the later press-molded bottle forms are not glazed on the inside, precluding their use as flasks, this bottle does have an interior glaze, suggesting that it was intended as a vessel to hold liquid.

The production of this piece made in Salem, North Carolina, dates to the time period in which Rudolph Christ was operating the pottery shop in Salem. 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.

Brown, Johanna. “Tradition and Adaptation in Moravian Press-Molded Wares.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2009) 105-138.

This is the only identified extant North carolina Moravian bottle of this type known, although the utilitarian form was one that was no doubt quite popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Moravian potters made thrown flasks, bottles, and other utilitarian forms
long before introducing press-molded variants around 1800. During the
first quarter of the nineteenth century, the variety of figural objects listed
in the pottery inventories expanded with each passing year. 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. 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.
(Art In Clay Gallery Guide)

Credit Line:
Old Salem Purchase Fund