Stoneware is the roughhewn cousin of porcelain. Like porcelain, it is fired at very high temperatures (1,200 to 1,400 degrees), literally melting the minerals (usually feldspar) within the clay to create a non-porous ceramic. This makes stoneware an excellent container for food storage, which is why so many 19th- and 20th-century stoneware pieces were made in the shapes of crocks, jugs, jars, and other household items. Stoneware also has terrific insulating properties, which means it keeps items cool, but can also handle the heat.

In the late 1700s, Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potteries popularized the ware. Because it is non-porous, stoneware could be used unglazed, but most English potteries glazed their pieces by adding salt to the kiln in which the stoneware was being fired. Upon being heated, the salt would vaporize, leaving a glossy layer of sodium silicate on the object.

Just after the Revolutionary War, American potters practiced roughly the same techniques. A rich vein of feldspathic clay ran through Staten Island and New Jersey, so New York and its neighbor became centers for stoneware. Famous 19th-century potter families included Morgan of New Jersey and Crolius and Remmey of New York. Farther afield there were the Nortons of Vermont and Hamiltons of Pennsylvania. All produced egg-shaped jugs, barrel-shaped water coolers, and cylindrical butter churns.

Since salt glazing was not a perfect science, potters in northern New York devised a brown liquid known as Albany slip to seal the interiors of their pieces. Sometimes the slip was also poured over the outside of items to give them a darker hue and enable potters to scratch designs and legends onto their surfaces. Toward the end of the 19th century, spongeware glazing treatments were also found on stoneware.

Though initially dominated by potters, a few factories used stoneware to produce commodities like sewer tiles. For collectors, one of the most interesting footnotes to this aspect of U.S. stoneware history is what happened at the end of a factory’s shift. That’s when workers would fashion everything from animals to busts to baseballs from the leftover clay. Naturally these pieces are highly prized by contemporary stoneware collectors.

Another stoneware player of interest to collectors was Anna Pottery of Illinois. From 1859 until 1896, the Kirkpatrick brothers who ran the pottery made stoneware tobacco pipes, butter churns, storage jugs and jars, and hanging baskets. Today, though, they are best known for their so-called railroad pigs and snake jars.

Usually fashioned as a horizontal flask, with a stopper plugging its end, the kneeling white or brownish pigs featured railroad routes and local, geographic maps on their ample sides, incised and then highlighted with a soft cobalt glaze. Sometimes the names of routes and elaborate, folk-art-like inscriptions would be written on the pig’s back, other times rivers would be depicted coursing through the porcine countryside...

The Kirkpatrick’s other signature item was the snake jar or jug, which betrayed Wallace Kirkpatrick’s love of the reptiles. Snake jugs ranged from simple pieces labeled with the words “Little Brown Jug” on the side and a snake coiled around the jug’s neck, to elaborate objects that riffed on the political cartoons of Thomas Nast and portrayed New York City’s William Tweed and his cronies as a tangle of slithering serpents.

By 1877, Red Wing Stoneware had been founded in Minnesota. Red Wing produced hand-turned jugs, water coolers, and butter churns, some with capacities of up to 40 gallons. Many of these earliest farmhouse pieces had the classic, glassy, mottled, salt-glazed surfaces that we associate with stoneware of this era.

At first, the decorations of these pieces were limited to a single hand-painted blue flower, a tornado shape, or perhaps a small bird. But in the early 20th century, Red Wing replaced its salt glaze with a zinc glaze known as Bristol. The resulting bone-white surface gave Red Wing food-storage products a clean, sanitary appearance.

Just as importantly, Bristol gave Red Wing’s designers a neutral background for decoration, from the “red wing” that would become the company’s logo to custom designs for advertisers. Red Wing had a great run, but by 1947 demand for stoneware had dropped to the point that Red Wing discontinued the line.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Stoneware: 2g Ovoid Crock W/ Cobalt Floral, N. Clark Jr, Athens Ny, 1850Antique Cobalt Blue Decorated Stoneware Cake Crock With Lid No Reserve!Antique Cobalt Stoneware Crock Bird Motif See Pics Antique Stoneware Salt Glazed Beehive Crock Jug Cobalt Blue Lettering G.bAntique 19th C Stoneware Bee Sting Tornado Decorated 4 Gallon Crock Red WingLg Antique 19thc Primitive Baltimore Maryland Old Cobalt Stoneware Pottery CrockRed Wing Stoneware 3 Gallon Water Cooler Lid Mint Condition Throughout*no Reserve Antique Cobalt Blue Decorated Stoneware Batter Jug Whites BinghamtonAntique 19thc Primitive Cobalt Blue Country Flowers Old Stoneware Pottery Crock19thc Antique Primitive Old Cobalt Blue Flower Decorated Stoneware Pottery CrockBurger And Co. Stoneware Crock Huge Cobalt Blue Flowers Rochester NyAntique 19th C Stoneware Decorated Baltimore Md Crock Milk Pan Dish Clovers 1galAntique 19th Century Stoneware Decorated James River Virginia Crock 12 1/8"Antique Norton Bennington Vt Ovoid Stoneware Jug Primitive Blue Flower Folk ArtVintage Small Redwing Stoneware Crock Excellent With Lid!*no Reserve* Antique Cobalt Blue Decorated Stoneware Spittoon Signed By MakerAntique 19thc Primitive Baltimore Maryland Cobalt Blue Stoneware Pottery CrockAntique Turtle Creek, Pa Bowman & Co. Dealer In General Merchandise Crock CobaltAntique Whites Binghamton Stoneware Batter Cobalt Blue Trim White Red Wing Stoneware 20 Lb Butter CrockAntique Blue Decorated Stoneware Bird Crock / 2 GallonAntique 19th C Stoneware Decorated N White & Co Binghamton New York 4 Gallon JugAntique Blue Decorated Stoneware Crock Antique 19th C Stoneware Whites Utica Hunt Scene #2 Cake Butter Crock W LidAntique 19th C 5 Gallon Stoneware Beehive Jug Druggist Watertown Ny Sam Felt YqzAntique Lyons Ny Stoneware Ovoid Jar W/ Cobalt Blue Flower Primitive Folk Art NrUltra Rare ~ Whitehall,ill 1870 Buckeye Pottery Sawtooth Ruckels 1/2 Gal. CrockC1800s Primitive Tall 15" Salt Glaze Cobalt Heavily Decorated Stoneware Jar RareAntique 19thc Stoneware Decorated Small Pennsylvania Crock Drooping Leaves 9.5" The Best!! Bulbous Westerwald Saltglazed German Stoneware Jug, Circa 1700 Red Wing Stoneware Crock Beater Jar Dickeyville Wisconsin B Wiederhold AntiqueAntique Stoneware Advertizing Rolling Pin ~ Yellow Ware ~ Altus OklahomaAntique Red Wing Stoneware Sponge Beater Jar Northwood North Dakota Crock RareAntique 19th C Stoneware Decorated Ovoid Virginia Rockingham County Crock 9"Red Wing Stoneware Sponge Banded Butter Jar W/ AdvertisingAntique Norton Bennington Vt Stoneware Jug W/cobalt Blue Bird Folk Art PrimitiveAntique Cobalt Stoneware Crock W/ 3 Tulips On 3 Sides - RareAntique 19th C Mochaware Mocha Three Color Staffordshire Small Pitcher CreamerAntique Roberts Binghamton Ny Stoneware Batter Pitcher Cobalt Blue Folk Art NorVintage Small Redwing Stoneware Crock With Lid!Fine Quality George I Westerwald Saltglazed Stoneware Tavern Mug, Circa 1715 Antique 1/2 Gal Wine Stoneware Jug Salt Glazed W/ Cobalt Incised Fish DecorationSmall 7 1/4" Tall Blue Decorated Stoneware Storage Jar RemmeyRare 1809 Paul Cushman Small 7 1/8" Stoneware Jar Signed And Dated BeautifulVintage 1 3/4" Mini Crock Marked W.s. Co. Stoneware White Hall, Ill.Blue Decorated Stoneware Crock Three Thistles SnuffEarly Old Braxton Rye Whiskey Stoneware Striped Jug Miniature Mini - EstateAntique Norton Bennington Vt Stoneware Jug Cobalt Blue Flower Folk Art Primitive Red Wing Stoneware = Rare Pink Chef PierreVintage Macomb Stoneware Co. Mini Jug With Macomb Belt LogoWhite Hall Ill Whsp&sco. Blue & White Stripe Sugar Bell With Lid -mint-C1800s Primitive 7.5" Salt Glaze Cobalt Handled Stoneware Crock Jar FineAntique Stoneware Crock Blue Floral Design PrimitiveAntique Burlington Vt Stoneware Jug W/ Cobalt Double Blue Flowers Folk Art NoreAntique Blue Decorated Stoneware Crock / Herrmann / Baltimore N. A. White, Utica, N.y. 2g Stoneware Jug With Paddletail Bird On An OrchidRed Wing Handled Stoneware Iced Tea Water Cooler 3 Gallon Crock With LidVintage Antique StonewareAntique Salt Glaze 1/2 Gallon Cobalt Decorated Stoneware Jug Flower New JerseyVintage Mini Western Stoneware Crock Maple Leaf Marked.

Recent News: Stoneware

Source: Google News

Leicester man who cleans his house up to 10 hours a day features in a new TV ...
Leicester Mercury, September 30th

A Leicester man who spends up to 10 hours a day cleaning his home features in a new TV series. Bachelor Andy, who shares his very clean two-bedroomed maisonette with a Chinchilla called Leo, stars in 'Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners' on Channel 4...Read more

Movin' On Up
Hour Detroit Magazine, September 29th


LAXArt gala serves up typing, tattoos and smashing taboos
Los Angeles Times, September 29th

The artworks that weren't performances or interventions included large pieces like Galia Linn's abstract glazed stoneware “Vessels” in the motor court and Adam Mars' subversive/creepy/cool business cards scattered in stacks throughout the mansion ...Read more

New Lenovo Yoga tablets, PCs due out for holiday season
PC Advisor, September 29th

The company is building custom cloud services for mobile devices and the enterprise with technologies derived from its 2012 acquisition of cloud company Stoneware. Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service...Read more

Whetting our appetites
Iowa Now, September 29th

7, the UI Museum of Art exhibition, “Tea Time: Going Dutch,” at the IMU Black Box Theater, focuses on close study of Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten's painting Blue and White Teacups and a Bowl with a Yixing Stoneware Teapot, a Teaspoon, and Lumps of ...Read more

The country with one people and 1200 sausages
BBC News, September 28th

Tall glasses from Switzerland, stoneware tankards from Cologne, covered beakers from Austria, and silver-gilt mugs from Hamburg and the German-speaking merchant cities of the Baltic, all the way from Luebeck to Riga. But most astonishing of all is this ...Read more

Handmade Home: Stoneware
Orlando Magazine, September 18th

Vets · Real Estate · Best of Orlando · Dining Awards · Promotions · Weddings · Guides · Doctors · Lawyers · Vets · Real Estate · Best of Orlando · Dining Awards · Promotions · Weddings · Guides · Home Grown /; September 2014 /; Handmade Home: Stoneware ...Read more

Keen collector secures stoneware mug at auction
Christian Davies Antiques (blog), September 16th

A lucky bidder has managed to track down an antique tankard that he had been after for some time. The 18th-century, stoneware mug was auctioned at Woolley and Wallis in the sale for fine porcelain and pottery. The tavern tankard is dated 1740 and had ...Read more