Collections › OSMG Collection › Bottle

Bottle

Artist/Maker:
Christ, Rudolph __Workshop of
Place Made:
Salem North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
1819-1829
Medium:
lead glazed earthenware
Dimensions:
HOA: 5-1/2″; WOA: 3-15/16″
Accession Number:
5445
Description:
This press molded earthenware bottle is coated with a white slip under a green lead
glaze. The design of an eagle is on either side of the bottle within two incised lines. The eagle has a shield front and center with vertical and horizontal pressed dots creating rows; holding a sheaf of wheat in the left claw. The wings have incised marks representing feathers, with three prominent tail feathers. The head is turned to the proper right. Both sides of the bottle have the same design. The bottle neck sits slightly off-center. The body sits atop an oval foot that was thrown on the wheel separate from the molded body of the bottle. Although most of the press molded bottle forms are not glazed on the inside, precluding their use as flasks, the eagle bottles do have interior glaze suggesting that they were intended as vessels to hold liquid. “Eagles” are first listed on the inventory of the Salem pottery in 1819. The 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 over a white slip. The Wachovia Historical Society collection includes molds for both sizes, one is round and one is oval.

This bottle was made in a round press mold. A press mold was usually plaster, consisting of two parts with the exterior design of the bottle impressed (from a model) on the interior of each half of the mold. Once the clay was set up, the molds were removed and the form remained with the impressions of the mold. (See Michelle Erickson, Rob Hunter, and Caroline M. Hannah’s article in the 2009 Ceramics in America). The bottles were most likely made in imitation of mold blown glass eagle bottles that were popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.

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. 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).(Art in Clay Gallery Guide) 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.

History:
“Eagles” are first listed on the inventory of the Salem pottery in 1819. They are listed in two sizes. The WHS collection includes molds for both sizes-one is round and one is oval. This bottle was made in the round press mold. The bottles were most likely made in imitation of mold blown glass eagle bottles that were popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Press Molded
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. 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).(Art in Clay Gallery Guide)
Flasks & Figures
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)
Also see “Ceramics in America” 2009

This one of two known extant Salem Eagle bottles. Although most of the press-molded bottle forms are not glazed on the inside, precluding their use as flasks, the eagle bottles do have interior glaze suggesting that they were intended as vessels to hold liquid.

Credit Line:
Bahnson and Anne Gray Purchase Fund, Katherine Babcock Mountcastle Purchase Fund, and Old Salem Antiquities Purchase Fund.