North Carolina’s eighteenth and nineteenth-century Moravian potters were remarkable artisans whose products included coarse earthenware, slip-trailed decorated ware, Leeds-type fine pottery, press-molded stove tiles, figural bottles, toys, and salt-glazed stoneware.
Silesian-born and German-trained potter Gottfried Aust was the first to arrive in Bethabara in 1755. After that, numerous apprentices of his carried on the trade in the state and beyond. Some apprentices rose to the rank of master potter. Aust’s most successful protégé, Rudolph Christ, excelled in the creation of Queensware, faience, and tortoiseshell-glazed pottery.
Swiss-born Heinrich Schaffner, one of several more Moravian master potters, is famously known for his “Salem smoking pipes.” Today, museums and private collectors vigorously compete for scarce examples of North Carolina-made Moravian pottery.
Every piece found and preserved is like a new paragraph added to the story of the art and mystery of pottery-making in one of the South’s earliest settlements.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Following his introduction to North Carolina's pottery scene while working as a small town newspaper photographer in the 1970s, Stephen C. Compton was on the path to becoming one of the region's top pottery collectors and noted experts on the subject. An eighth generation North Carolinian, Steve's interests include the state's 18th and 19th century earthenware and stoneware traditions, as well as its early to mid-20th century art potteries, and how these traditions inform the work of hundreds of the state's contemporary clay artists today.