Dave Drake, Signed and Dated, May 29th, 1857 Stoneware Jar and Jug | September 16, 2023

Back together after 166 years!

Brunk Auctions has the privilege of offering an exceptional Dave Drake stoneware jar and a scarce Dave Drake stoneware jug, both inscribed with the date “May 29, 1857.” The pieces are also signed “Dave” with an inscribed “Lm” for Lewis Miles, the owner of the Stoney Bluff Manufactory in the Horse Creek Valley of the Edgefield District in South Carolina, where Dave produced these magnificent wares as an enslaved craftsman. Evident on the shoulders of the works are the accompanying capacity marks in the form of punctates, or small dot impressions, as well as other identifying slash marks and a cross mark.

Dave is arguably the finest stoneware craftsman in American history with a propensity for dating and signing his works. He even inscribed some of them with poems—a daring act during the period, as it was illegal for an enslaved person to be taught to read or write. Works made by Dave Drake with a signature and/or date are documented to have been made between May 23, 1829 and March 31, 1864, according to an article by Arther F. Goldberg and James P. Witkowski entitled “Beneath His Magic Touch: The Dated Vessels of the African American Slave Potter Dave,” published by the Chipstone Foundation in Ceramics in America, 2006. According to this article, there were only a few pairs known with the same date out of 169 documented pieces. Since this publication, additional Dave pieces have come to market and have found a place in public institutions and private collections across the country. The two examples we will offer in our September 14-16, 2023 sale are fine examples of Dave’s work with very few apologies and a rare shared date. They are wonderful additions or capstones to any serious collection.

Pictured above are other attributed examples of Dave’s stoneware and an attributed Harry piece, all featured in the September Auction. For more images, descriptions, or condition information, please contact Southern Pottery specialist, Corey Jones, at corey@brunkauctions.com.


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