Several pieces from antebellum potter Dave the Slave in Ga. auction

If you read Antique Trader magazine, you’ve occasionally seen Dave the Slave pottery cross the auction block. These pieces often achieve amazing prices of tens of thousands of dollars.

Who was Dave the Slave? According to (a website by Mud Sweat and Tears Southern Antique and Folk Pottery):

Dave the Slave was
an enslaved African-American potter who turned wares in the plantation
potteries of Edgefield South Carolina before the Civil War. He made
pottery from as early as the 1820s to the mid-to-late 1860s.

Dave is
famous mainly for two reasons. First, he had the ability to turn large
pieces of pottery, forty gallons or more in size. This was an
incredible feat.

Secondly, he would sometimes write on the sides of his
ware. It was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write in
the antebellum South but Dave could and did. Dave sometimes wrote his
name and date on his pottery and on very rare occasions he would write
short two line couplets or short poems. 

dave_the_slave_140K.jpgIn 2004, an Edgefield District poem jar in ovoid form
with ear-shaped handles, inscribed with the poem: ‘Whats better than
kissing (or) wishing while we both are at fishing’; and on other side
signed & dated: “Febry 10, 1840, Mr. L. Miles, Dave,” sold for $140,000 at a Charlton Hall auction in Columbia, S.C. (The photo shown at right is courtesy

More Dave the Slave pieces are crossing the block on Aug. 28 at Hawkins Auction Barn in Waynesboro, Ga. Among other important pottery pieces, Hawkins is offering: dave signature.jpgRecently
Discovered Signed and Dated, Dave the Slave 4 Gal. Storage Jar, never
offered for Sale to the public. Another signed and dated Dave Jar (Oct, 16th 1854). (Photo at left courtesy Hawkins Auction)

Visit to learn more.

Karen Knapstein


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