Friday, January 15, 2010

Dave, the Slave Potter – Daryle Lambert's Antique and Collectibles Blog - The history of Dave from Edgefield

Dave the Slave - Thanks to

I have written many blogs and I have to admit that often they are just passing on information to you that I have researched. Hopefully, the information that I share will help many of you become successful. It has added to my base of knowledge. Today’s blog, however, is a little different than most because I got personally involved in the research on Dave, the Slave Potter.

Edgefield Pottery, from the Edgefield District of South Carolina, was made from 1820 until the early 20th century, and has been among the most collectible pottery in America. One reason for the popularity of the South Carolina pottery is that most of it was made before the great Civil War. So when you own a piece of this pottery, it is like owning a piece of history.

During this period from the early 19th century to early 20th century, most pottery was salt glazed, which was very expensive, or lead glazed, which was poisonous. When a new glaze came on the scene which was neither poisonous or expensive, it became an immediate hit. This glaze was called Alkaline glaze and it was an attempt to duplicate early Chinese glazes from 1000 years earlier.

However, this is where the story changes. As I was beginning to research Edgefield pottery, the name “Dave the Slave” popped up, and for the next two days I couldn't get that out of my head. I began to search for anything I could find on this man. It became almost an obsession.

Here was a slave who made pottery and had the skill to produce larger pieces than anyone else. Not only could he make pottery, it is claimed he made over 10,000 pieces. Many of his wares are unsigned but because of his skills they are easily assigned to him. During the period that Dave was making pottery, it was against the law for a slave to be able to read or write, but Dave could do both. I haven't found in a biography where he may have learned these skills but that would be interesting if any of you find that information in your research.

Dave often wrote unique verses on his pots and you will see some of those in the links I will be sharing. His signed work usually used the letters LM and often were accompanied by a horseshoe design and then dated. Be sure to take the time to read all the information on the links, including the site map on one of them.

I believe that once you enter into the world of Dave, the Slave Potter, there will be no stopping you before you consume all the information available. Yes, Dave's pieces can command prices as high as $50,000 and maybe more. I have to admit that if one of Dave's pieces ever came into my possession, I don't know if I could ever sell it.

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  1. I have a book on Dave the Slave - I too was obsessed with his talent, and very positive personality. The book cost me a small fortune, but here is the title - This alone would add great income, if you can find it cheap:
    "I made this jar" the life and works of the enslaved African-American Potter, Dave. edited by Jill Beute Koverman. This is the only book I know that cronicles Dave - very good book. Also "Great and Noble Jar" by Cinda K. Baldwin is another excellent book on N.Caroling Pottery, and does include Dave's work. Vicki h.

  2. Hi Vicki

    I can always count on you to share your knowledge with us. I will start looking for that book.

    God Bless


  3. Hi Daryle, What an interesting man he was. You wondered where he learned to read and write and in the first link you shared, it said that he took the name Drake from his first owner and the man that taught him to read so I would take that to be one in the same man.
    Thanks for sharing so interesting history.