Stoneware Water Cooler

Stoneware Water Cooler

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Description
This salt-glazed, ovoid stoneware cooler was made by Eleazer Orcutt and Horace Humiston in Troy, New York. It has two large handles and features a classical figure with a lyre in relief surrounded by a series of impressed medallions highlighted in cobalt blue. The cooler was probably made for an individual or firm named A. Drown in Canaan, New York.
The presence of nearby stoneware clays gave rise to the New York state salt-glazed stoneware tradition that, by the early 1800s, developed in villages and towns along the Hudson River. Shipped upriver, the clay returned downstream after being transformed into useful ceramic vessels. With the Erie Canal completion in 1825, stoneware production extended its range to meet the increased flow of perishable goods from the Great Lakes region.
Stoneware clay, when fired to a temperature of about 2100 degrees F, vitrifies into highly durable ceramic material that holds liquids and keeps perishable contents cool. Stoneware potters in America, many of them immigrants from Germany and the Netherlands, maintained their European tradition of throwing coarse salt into the kiln. The salt melts in the heat and forms a pitted glassy surface on the vessels, which would otherwise be a dull grey.
The production of these sturdy salt-glazed containers declined following improvements in tinning and canning perishable foodstuffs. In the late 1850s, the glass Mason canning jar entered the market, after which the potteries lost much of the demand for food storage containers that sustained so much of their production.
Object Name
cooler
date made
about 1832
maker
Orcutt, Eleazer
Humiston, Horace
place made
United States: New York, Troy
Physical Description
ceramic, stoneware, coarse (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 17 1/2 in; 44.45 cm
ID Number
CE.300894.017
catalog number
300894.17
accession number
300894
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Food
Work
Industry & Manufacturing
New York Stoneware
Exhibition
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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