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Loy, Solomon __Workshop of
Place Made:
Alamance County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
earthenware –lead-glazed
HOA: 3″; DIA: 12″
Accession Number:
This wheel-thrown red earthenware dish was coated overall with a white slip, and then decorated with geometric motifs including central flowers or star (with circles and dots at very center) in red and black slip. The rim is decorated with alternating lunettes and imbricated triangles, also in red and black slip. The designs radiate from the center. The earliest Alamance County dishes with white slip grounds appear to date from the first quarter of the nineteenth century. With their coved profiles and delicate squared rims, these dishes are closer in shape to those made by Solomon Loy than the examples with the black slip grounds. The dish is lead glazed. A lead glaze was made up primarily of a lead oxide, most often red lead, that was ground, mixed with a clay so that the mixture would adhere to the pottery, and made liquid with water. Earthenware is a porous material and must have an applied glaze in order to hold liquids. Beneath the lead glaze the white slip appears yellow.

MAKER: Much of the earthenware from the St. Asaph’s tradition centered on the closely allied Albright and Loy families. Jacob Albright (1753-1825) was listed as a “potter” as early as the 1800 tax records for St. Asaph’s district, and he was also the father-in-law of potter Henry Loy (1777-1825) and the grandfather of potter Solomon Loy (1805-after 1865).

Ceramic fragments recovered at the site of Jacob Albright’s pottery document the production of earthenware with dark brown and black grounds and polychrome slip decoration. The decorative vocabulary of his pottery included marbleizing—a technique rare in southern slipware— as well as trailing in both abstract and naturalistic styles. Most of the fragments are from dishes, but bases from three mugs or tankards with polychrome banding indicate that Albright’s pottery also made decorated hollow ware. “An Inventory and an Account of Sales of the Estate of Jacob Albright Decd,” dated March 24, 1825 listed two potter’s wheels, a glaze mill, a clay mill, a grindstone, a pipe mold, a stove mold, and numerous crocks, dishes, basons, jugs, pitchers, and sugar pots. The amount of equipment would have been sufficient for a modest workforce.

Solomon Loy’s career spanned the second quarter of the nineteenth century, a period when earthenware production began to wane and many potters in the piedmont region of North Carolina began shifting production to salt-glazed stoneware. He probably apprenticed with his father Henry, who worked at the pottery of Solomon’s grandfather, Jacob Albright. Albright’s manufactory may have been the primary training ground for many of the St. Asaph’s potters of Solomon’s generation. Archaeology at Solomon Loy’s kiln site has documented the production of a wide range of forms, glazes, and decorative techniques including the use of dripped polychrome slips. Most of Solomon’s trailed designs – stylized leaves, imbricated triangles, nested triangles, lunettes, and dots with jeweled edges – have antecedents in Alamance County pottery from the last quarter of the eighteenth century. (Art in Clay Gallery Guide)

Beckerdite, Luke, Johanna Brown, and Linda Carnes-McNaughton. “Slipware from the St. Asaph’s Tradition.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2010): 14-65.

Carnes-McNaughton, Linda. “Solomon Loy: Master Potter of the Carolina Piedmont.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2010): 106-139.

LABEL NOTES: Seller purchased plate from a private collection in Petersburg, VA. The Petersburg owner purchased it in 1926 in Gibsonville, N.C.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton