This dish is attributed to Friedrich Rothrock, a Moravian living in Friedland, a small Moravian community approximately five miles south of Salem. In September of 1793, the Friedberg Diarist wrote, “I visited Br.[Brother] Philip Rothrock, and found that his son Friedrich has begun to make pottery, and has had good success with a small burning.” (Beckerdite and Brown 2009: 45-46). On the back of the dish is an impressed “FR” in a 5/8″ square. This mark is found on only two other pieces of pottery. The “GR” on the front of the dish is said to be the initials of Friedrich’s brother, George. There is no evidence for where Rothrock received his training as a potter, but it is clear from his decorative techniques and forms that he was strongly influenced by the traditions in Salem, if not trained there.
Slipware in the Moravian tradition differs from the slipware from the St. Asaph’s district of Orange County (now Alamance County), North Carolina. The Moravians had a naturalistic vocabulary of motifs with spiritual significance and seem to have limited their slip decorating to dishes. In contrast, the St. Asaph’s potters used a wide variety of motifs– stylized crosses and plant forms, fylfots, imbricated triangles, and other geometric designs on both flat and hollowware forms.
Beckerdite, Luke and Brown, Johanna. “Eighteenth Century Earthenware from North Carolina: The Moravian Tradition Reconsidered,” CERAMICS IN AMERICA. 2009: 2-67.
Potters At The Periphery Of The Moravian Tradition
In a September 1793 report, Frederic William Marshall cited competition from “potters… around us” as justification for the Moravians to develop new lines of ware. That same month, a Moravian diarist wrote: “I visited Br. Philip Rothrock, and found that his son Friedrich has begun to make pottery, and has had good success with a small burning.” Friedrich’s pottery was in Friedland, a small Moravian community less than five miles south of Salem. Although his site has been destroyed, two slipware dishes and a lead-glazed jug bearing Friedrich’s stamped mark survive. One of the dishes originally belonged to his brother George, whose slip-trailed initials are on the front. If Rothrock did not train in Salem, he was profoundly influenced by the slipware made there.Two potters trained
by Gottfried Aust left Salem to establish manufactories elsewhere in North Carolina. John Heinrich Beroth moved to Rowan County in 1773, and Philip Jacob Meyer moved to Randolph County twenty years later. Although no pottery documented to Beroth survives, two dishes with white slip grounds, stylized plant designs, and distinctive buff (almost white) clay bodies have histories of descent in the Ellers family of Rowan County. By contrast, Meyer’s work is well represented archaeologically. The pottery produced at his site differs little from that associated with Gottfried Aust and his successors. It included a wide range of utilitarian ware; dishes, plates, and shallow bowls decorated with Germanic slip trailing; press-molded tiles and smoking pipes; and refined tableware and tea ware in the English taste. (Art in Clay Gallery Guide)
Also see “Ceramics in America” 2009, pp. 3-67.