Stoneware water cooler


By the 1790s, American potters began to experiment with producing utilitarian household forms made of stoneware clay. Manufacture of this sturdy, impermeable wear was well advanced in Europe by this time. However, it was necessary for potters in the New World to locate suitable clays, and acquire the skills and technology necessary for the sophisticated demands of refining and firing stoneware.

Most stoneware was wheel-thrown, fired at extremely high temperatures (1200-1300 degrees centigrade), and formed of clay found primarily in New Jersey and the Carolinas. A smooth finish was obtained by the application of one of a number of glaze types. Depending on economic pressures or local custom, stoneware was most often covered with a clear salt-glaze, a thick brown "Albany slip" glaze, or a wood ash glaze that fired in glossy browns and greens. Salt-glazed stonewares were often slip or brush decorated with cobalt oxide, one of the few coloring options able to withstand the high temperatures in a stoneware kiln.

The National Museum of American History houses a large and important collection of utilitarian stonewares made in the United States from the late 1700s through the mid 1800s. These simple types of wares were indispensible tools in food storage and preparation in the United States for over two hundred and fifty years, until advances in refrigeration and canning reduced the demand for traditional utilitarian pottery after the late 1800s.

This early 1800s salt-glazed stoneware water pitcher is decorated with a man holding an arrow and standing in a tree, and is thought to

illustrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1845 poem "The Arrow and Song."

"I shot an arrow in the air

It fell to earth, I know not where

Long, long afterward in an oak

I found the arrow still unbroke."

Date Made: early 1800s

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Connecticut

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of John Paul Remensnyder

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1977.0803.195Accession Number: 1977.0803Catalog Number: 1977.0803.195

Object Name: cooler, water

Physical Description: monochrome, blue (overall surface decoration color name)ceramic, stoneware, coarse (overall material)Measurements: overall approximate: 16 in x 13 in; 40.64 cm x 33.02 cm


Record Id: nmah_573499

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