The jar has a single layer of dark brown, iron-rich glaze on the interior and exterior. The exterior then has a second layer of glaze that was applied from the rim to approximately two inches above the base. The base was then wiped off, but some of the glaze remains. The glaze has an iridescence to it, as does accession number 3671 (likely made in the same shop). This may relate to a particular mineral in the glaze, mica, which may not have burned off in the kiln firing, and could have left this lustrous surface.
This jar is part of a group that has often been compared to North Carolina Moravian pottery, but until recently, there have been few connections between Moravian potters and the potters who worked in this region. Once attributed to the potter Gottfried Aust of Salem, this is an excellent example of what is referred to as “Great Road” pottery, following the valley from southwest Virginia to northeast Tennessee. Great Road jars are noted for their large, extruded handles; robust, ovoid bodies; and tight, high necks as seen on this particular jar.
MAKER: Johann Christian Buck (1769-1846) was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to North Carolina as a child with his family around 1780. Growing up on the Brushy Fork of Abbot’s Creek in present-day Davidson County, he would have been exposed to the Germanic potting traditions established by the nearby Moravians at Wachovia and the Albright/Loy family in Alamance County. In 1796, he moved to Wythe County, Virginia, married Christina Steffey, and established a family of potters that worked throughout the 19th century. Buck’s 1815 tax record noted that he owned a 366-acre farm on the south fork of Reedy Creek in Wythe County with three cabins, a small barn, and a potter’s kiln. Two of his sons, Abraham Buck (1798-1863) and John Christian Buck (1801-1879); his son-in-law Eli Cain (1815-1880); and three of his grandsons, Peter Buck (1826-1880), Felix Buck (1827-1889), and Ephraim Buck (1833-1909), were all identified as potters in US census records.
Moore, J. Roderick. “Earthenware potters along the Great Road in Virginia and Tennessee.” The Magazine Antiques, September 1983.