Moravian potters in North Carolina made press-molded earthenware for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. The range of forms documented by surviving objects, molds, and references in pottery inventories is far greater than that of any contemporary American ceramic tradition. From smoking pipes to stove tiles, the Moravian potters at Bethabara and Salem expanded the production of press-molded earthenware to include figural bottles and casters, non-figural bottles, and toys.
Master potter Gottfried Aust arrived in Bethabara, North Carolina in 1755 and immediately sought local stores of clay and flint for use in his pottery. By the spring of 1756 he had conducted firing experiments on these materials, and in August he built a larger kiln in which he fired earthenware. Aust stayed in Bethabara until 1771, when he moved to the Moravians’ newly built town of Salem and served as master of the pottery there until his death in 1788. Rudolph Christ can be credited for the successful production and marketing of press molded figural wares during his tenure as master of the pottery at Salem (1789–1821). He also continued the press-molded forms made by Aust, such as the stove tiles. Rudolph Christ apprenticed under Gottfried Aust in Salem, North Carolina. He established his own pottery in Bethabara in 1786 and worked there until 1789. He succeeded Aust as master potter in Salem from 1789 to 1821.
Beckerdite, Luke and Brown, Johanna. “Eighteenth Century Earthenware from North Carolina: The Moravian Tradition Reconsidered.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2009):2-67.
Brown, Johanna. “Tradition and Adaptation in Moravian Press-Molded Earthenware.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2009):107-108.