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Maker(s):Samuel Bell's Lower Street Potworks (attributed to)
Date Made:ca. 1740
Type:Food Service
Materials:ceramic: lead-glazed earthenware (agateware)
Place Made:Great Britain; Great Britain: England; Staffordshire; Newcastle-under-Lyme
Measurements:Overall: 4 1/2 in x 5 1/2 in x 4 1/4 in; 11.4 cm x 14 cm x 10.8 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2016.10.2
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

The earliest documented agateware is found among the products of John Dwight (even though he himself referred to it as marbled). Commercial production of English agateware does not begin in earnest until the second quarter of the eighteenth century. In 1729, Samuel Bell, at the Lower Street potworks, Newcastle-under-Lyme, was granted a patent to produce “red marbled stoneware with mineral earth found within this kingdom which being firmly united by fire will make it capable of receiving a gloss so beautiful as to imitate if not compare with ruby.” Like Dwight’s agate, the Bell products were thrown on the wheel. After being initially formed, the wares were turned on the lathe to thin the body and concurrently create a clean variegated surface. These wares typically had a red and off-white clay body even though a black colored clay was used. Contrary to the wording of the patent, Bell’s agateware is earthenware rather than stoneware. These wares are distinguished for being the earliest known twice-fired earthenwares in Staffordshire, first being fired to a biscuit state then dipped into a liquid lead glaze and fired again. The wording in his patent “being firmly united by fire” may reflect Bell’s recognition of the potential problems of successfully integrating different clays into a single ceramic body. Archaeological evidence from the excavation of Staffordshire factory sites, including that of John Bell and of John Astbury at Shelton Farm, shows that many potters made this type of thrown agate. Tea wares were the most common forms made, although mugs and bowls were also produced. Thrown agate reached its height of popularity in the 1750s and continued in production into the early 1770s. At that time, a coarser type of thrown agateware was introduced in Staffordshire. Used primarily for plates, dishes, and bowls, these wares frequently included rouletted bands of white slip decoration. This utilitarian agateware is commonly found in American archaeological sites of the 1770s and 1780s. Thrown agate production all but disappeared in Staffordshire by the late eighteenth century but continued sporadically in other pottery centers such as Sussex in the nineteenth century. Thrown agateware cylindrical mug with inverted bell or baluster shape, flared foot, with grooved flat loop handle with slightly upturned, rolled terminal, the mixed clays are dark brown, iron red, and black in color, Provenance: Troy Chappell, Price Glover. Condition: 1/8" rim chip; footrim with a 1/4" chip, 1/8" glaze flake and slight nicks.

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