Pottery Gravemarkers

Mint Museum Collection

One of the most unique artifact traditions in North Carolina is that of pottery gravemarkers, found mostly in the Piedmont region. Local potters formed them out of salt glazed stoneware, and most surviving examples date to the 19th century.

courtesy, Linda Carnes-McNaughton

Unfortunately, few graves are left with these relics. The fates of some are unknown, like this example stolen more than two years ago from the Cane Creek Friends Cemetery in Snow Camp, Alamance County. In other cases, the gravemarkers are being preserved in North Carolina collections, such as the Mint Museum, The Ackland Art Museum, and the NC Museum of History.

NCMOH 1995.164.1

Unlike Israel Woody’s stolen gravemarker–made by potter Solomon Loy in 1834, most pottery gravestones are shaped like vessels, rather than carved stones. Randolph County potter Jesse Jordan made the gravemarker, now in the NCMOH collection, in 1877, at the death of 3-year-old William Spinks Jordan.

UNC Professor Emeritus, Charles (Terry) Zug, III is the foremost expert on this craft form and there are two upcoming events when you can hear him speak about North Carolina pottery. On April 11th, 2012, he will be presenting a lunchtime lecture at the NC Museum of History from 12:00-1:00. The North Carolina Pottery Center will release his North Carolina Pottery Gravemarker catalog on April 14th, 2012, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. According to the Pottery Center, Zug’s catalog is the first of its kind, a rare grouping of nineteenth- and twentieth-century gravemarkers that take many forms and often have names, dates, and epitaphs inscribed on them. [editor’s note: since posting, Zug has informed us that the catalog release has been postponed indefinitely.]

North Carolina Pottery Center collection


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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on April 6, 2012, in collections access, Exhibitions, museums, public programs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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