Collections › OSMG Collection › Pitcher


Place Made:
Bethabara or Salem North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
lead glazed earthenware
HOA 8; DIA 3 3/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Redware pitcher with handle. Green glaze on outside and cream glaze on inside; three inscribed concentric circles at shoulder; distinct foot; spout has one side missing and one side has been broken and repaired.
MAKER: Rudolph Christ (1750-1833), the son of Rudolph Christ and Anna Wolf, was born in Lauten, Wurtemberg, Germany. He arrived in Bethabara in 1764 at the age of fourteen. In 1766, he apprenticed to Gottfried Aust, whose shop was in Salem, with whom he had a turbulent relationship. In August, 1770, the Elders Conference noted in its minutes that “Aust and his apprentice Christ have separated again” and Christ had written a letter to Brother Marshall begging to be released from his master and to be transferred to another settlement. After repeated requests, Christ was finally released in 1771, and he became the apprentice to the Salem gunmaker. Due to the lack of business at the gunshop, however, Christ returned to Aust’s pottery in 1772. He was freed of his apprenticeship in either 1773 or 1774, yet he remained in the pottery as a journeyman. Christ learned the art of making Queensware, while Aust continued to produce only earthenware. The young man listed this difference of materials as one of the many reasons he should be permitted to establish his own pottery. Time after time his attempts were thwarted by the Elders Conference, who clearly thought of him as a troublemaker. In 1780, the Elders Conference suggested that he marry Elizabeth Oesterlein, who became his first wife. This marriage gave him further reason to desire to be on his own, and finally in 1785, he received permission to set up his own business in Bethabara. He produced simpler varieties of Queensware such as moulded plates and Oriental form bowls. Many works had a mottled glaze. He had his own apprentices some of whom were Jacob Myer, David Baumgarten, and John Butner, who became master of the Bethabara pottery when Christ returned to Salem. Christ experimented with tin-enameled or faience pottery and grey salt-glazed stoneware which was popular in Pennsylvania. Christ was the master in Bethabara from 1786 to 1789, and then he became the master of Salem from 1789 to 1821.

HISTORY: “Pottery: Early pottery vessels were made from common clay which was shaped by hand or turned on a potter’s wheel before being glazed, decorated, and fired in a kiln. Great amounts were imported from Europe or produced here in similar forms. Although their course character deprived them of mention in most surviving home inventories, pottery shards found on 17th and 18th-century American domestic sites are among the most frequently encountered artifacts…

Basic Redware: A thick mundane earthenware that bore a minimum of decoration. It was usually covered inside (and sometimes all over) by a colorless lead glaze which gave a sheen to the surface and enchanced the red or brownish hue of the clay after firing.” (Neumann, p.238)

Credit Line:
Old Salem Museums & Gardens