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Salt-glazed Stoneware

With a Grain of Salt: Salt-glazed Stoneware in England and North Carolina


England Exhibit: May 8, 2007-February 10, 2008 (Levine Gallery)

North Carolina Exhibit: May 8, 2007-February 3, 2008 (Bridges Gallery)


Mint Museum of Art



England (Levine Gallery)


In the seventeenth century in Staffordshire, England, the emergence of a large middle class led to a high demand in salt-glazed stoneware. The particular interest in stoneware stemmed from the expensive imports of Chinese porcelain and German salt-glazed stoneware. Staffordshire kilns began making their own pottery affordable to the British middle class and distinctive in its own style.


The collection exhibit features teapots, saucepots, snuffer figurines, wall pockets and other types of decorative stoneware. However, each piece is tailored uniquely: some look like small houses, others like squirrels, and others morph into birds or snakes. Decorated with flowers, vines, seashells, and leaves, the stoneware celebrates nature in the cobalt blue painted on many of the pieces.


To demonstrate the German influence on the English salt-glazed pottery, sixteenth century German examples are on display. The jugs, pitchers, and tankards are commonly incised with various patterns. The pottery is thicker than the later salt-glazed English stoneware. Many are rimmed with silver gilt to prevent chipping.



Staffordshire, England

circa 1750

salt-glazed stoneware


In Print


  • Blacker, J.F. The A B C of English Salt-Glaze Stone-Ware: From Dwight to Doulton. London: Stanley Paul & Co., 1922. NK4360 B5 Early comprehensive work of salt-glazed stoneware with in-depth looks at the potters and businessmen involved in the evolution of the pottery in England.


  • Edwards, Diana and Rodney Hampson. White Salt-Glazed Stoneware of the British Isles. England: Antique Collectors' Club, 2005. NK4365 G7 E39 2005 An all encompassing historical guide to salt-glazed stoneware in Britain. Along with an explanation of how the ware is made, the book examines how the industry affected British and American societies.


  • Hildyard, Robin. English Pottery: 1620-1840. London: V & A Publications, 2005. 26-51. NK4085 H55 2005 The chapter on salt-glazed stoneware provides a summary of the history of Staffordshire pottery.


  • Horne, Jonathan. A Catalogue of English Brown Stoneware from the 17th and 18th Centuries. London: Jonathan Horne, 1985. NK4365 G7 H67 1985 Small catalogue highlighting John Dwight's work and German influences on the salt-glazed stoneware.


Online Resources


  • http://www.thepotteries.org/ The home website of Stoke-on-Trent, also known as The Potteries. This is the region where the Mint's collection of English salt-glazed stoneware originates.





North Carolina (Bridges Gallery)


The tradition of salt-glazed pottery in North Carolina began in the mid-eighteenth century. The potters used the clay from the land to create jugs and pots primarily for utilitarian purposes to serve the needs of the rural farmer in North Carolina. While some are decorated with small fish and some with only the drops of glaze from the kiln, the works are thick and sturdy for storage. Pottery in North Carolina is created in a strong family tradition. The Mint hosts several pieces of pottery spanning generations from different families including works by the Owens, the Coles, and the Teagues. The recognition of the salt-glazed stoneware in North Carolina as an art form has resulted in contemporary potters continuing the aesthetic beauty of the stoneware while maintaining their utilitarian characteristics.


Chester Webster 1799-1882

Three-Gallon Storage Jug

Randolf County, North Carolina


salt-glazed stoneware



In Print


  • Brown, Charlotte Vestal. The Remarkable Potters of Seagrove: The Folk Pottery of a Legendary North Carolina Community. New York: Lark Books, 2006. NK4027 S42 B76 2006 From the eighteenth century to today, this book's description of Seagrove's history is highlighted with plenty of photographs of its pottery and potters.


  • Hewitt, Mark & Nancy Sweezy. The Potter's Eye: Art & Tradition in North Carolina Pottery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. NK4025 N8 H49 2005 Comprehensive source on North Carolina pottery with a range of examples, excellent photographs, and history of the North Carolina pottery traditions.


  • Lock, Robert C. The Traditional Potters of Seagrove, North Carolina and Surrounding Area from the 1800s to the Present. Greensboro: Robert C. Lock, Inc., 1994. NK4027 S42 L63 1994 Chapters include historical background and individual family profiles with an in-depth discussion on the process of salt-glazing.


  • Perry, Barbara Stone. North Carolina Pottery: The Collection of the Mint Museums. Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. NK4025 N8 N67 2004 Each piece presented in the catalogue includes a photograph, a detailed description, and a biography of the potter. A good reference guide to study individual pieces at the museum.


  • Zug III, Charles G. The Traditional Pottery of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981. NK4025 N8 Z8 This small journal has several illustrated family trees demontrating how many of the potters in this exhibit are related to one another.


Online Resources


  • http://aarf.com/artpotteryw05.htm Short article by Dr. Everette James on the history of Seagrove pottery with brief profiles on individual potters including A.R. Cole, James Teague, and Ben Owen.



  • http://www.discoverseagrove.com/ Comprehensive website contains information on North Carolina contemporary potters, pottery events in the region, and the history of pottery in Seagrove.





cobalt blue- powdered oxide of cobalt used to decorate the incised designs of salt-glazed Staffordshire pottery.


salt-glazed pottery- a type of pottery produced by adding salt to the kiln once the temperature has reached 1660 degrees. The salt vaporizes and bonds with the silica in the clay to form a glass surface with a texture sometimes compared to orange rind.


Seagrove, North Carolina- area known for its history of pottery, located in the Piedmont of North Carolina and including the counties of Randolph, Montgomery, and Moore.


snuffer figurines-Included in the salt-glazed stoneware from England, the pottery shaped into tiny people or animals was used for snuffing out candles.


Staffordshire- region in England where Stoke-on-Trent (a.k.a. The Potteries) is located. The collection of towns is famous for its production of pottery. All of the salt-glazed English pottery in the exhibit is from this area.