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Shop of Gottfried Aust or Rudolph Christ
Place Made:
Salem or Bethabara North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
lead glazed earthenware
DIA 13; HOA 2 3/8
Accession Number:
Lead glazed earthenware plate, mottled green, brown and cream colored.
This thrown plate represents an early attempt by the Moravian potters to produce a modified Whieldon or tortoise-shell glaze. The clay body was coated with white slip then decorated with copper and manganese. Although few intact examples survive, archeological evidence has revealed that the Moravians experimented with this ware over an extended period of time. This was due in part to the influence of two visiting potters – a “supervisor” who taught Aust the basics of creamware production (probably John Bartlam) and William Ellis, a potter who had previously worked for Wedgwood and Bartlam.

The Salem pottery began producing imitations of Staffordshire creamware
during the early 1770s, owing to the arrival of an anonymous “itinerant
painter-potter” who had worked at John Bartlam’s “POTTER Y and
CHINA MANUFA CTORY” in Charleston, South Carolina, and William
Ellis, who had worked for Bartlam at Pine Tree (Camden), South
Carolina. During Ellis’ brief stay in Salem, the Moravians built a special
kiln for firing refined earthenware and experimented with the production
of stoneware. The earliest efforts to manufacture pottery using what the
Moravians called the “English fabrique” occurred during Gottfried Aust’s
tenure as master, but it was his former apprentice Rudolph Christ who
developed that class of ware into a marketable commodity, first at
Bethabara (1786–1789) and later at Salem when Christ became master of
the pottery (1789–1821).

The potter from Pinetree… has made a trial burning of
Queensware, also another with Stoneware, whereby the
processes necessary for it are pretty well made known to
us. But since all of these wares now have to be made on
the pottery molds by hand and are not turned on a potter’s
wheel with instruments, they obviously do not have
the porcelain standard of delicateness, but they do serve
as a sideline for our pottery, for recommendation and
further development.
Frederic William Marshall
Administrator of Wachovia
April 5, 1774
Brother Christ… would like to start the fine pottery
here in the community. The fine pottery cannot be manufactured
together with the rough pottery, because the
finest grain of sand that comes into the white clay, will
do great damage, and as concerns the drying, just the
opposite has to be done with the one than the other.
Thus he would need his own pottery and new tools…. If
it would not cost too much money we could then maybe
erect a house and some buildings for it and he could
maybe follow the trade better than it has been done up
to now, he could then also take up the manufacturing of
white, black, and salt pottery. It would also be good to
get him away from Br. Aust because the two temperaments
are too different to get along with each other.
Moravian Records
September 12, 1780
(Art in Clay Gallery Guide)

Credit Line:
Old Salem Museums & Gardens