Factory-Made Slipwares


by Elizabeth PaynterArchaeological Laboratory Director

Factory-made slipwares are ceramics that were brightly decorated with a color slip. A slip is a liquid mixture of clay, water, and other materials such as pigment. Slip was used to increase the smoothness of a ceramic, to make it more water resistant or for decoration. In this case, the slip was used for a variety of decorative purposes.

To understand the ware, it is important to note that archaeologists, collectors and potters refer to it in a variety of ways. Factory made slipware is sometimes referred to as either dipt’ or dipped ware, mocha, bandedware, or annularware. The multitude of ways that the slipware is referred causes some confusion. To compound the confusion, terms such as “annular” or “banded” can mean something else entirely. The CARTeam refers to this type of slipware as bandedware. Bandedwares “were the cheapest hollowware with color decoration available to consumers from the 1780’s through the nineteenth century;” (MAC Lab 2002) therefore, they are often found on late eighteenth century to nineteenth century sites.

These factory-made ceramic vessels were originally mass-produced in Britain. France and North America also began to produce them. The vessels are predominantly hollowwares such as mugs, bowls and jugs. Most often, bandedware is found on refined white earthenwares and yellowwares. It is occasionally found on other earthenwares and still rarer on redwares. Bandedware displays a wide variety of decorations and colors. The slip style, decorations and colors are fairly unique and can become easy to identify making it an extremely useful ware for an archaeologist to find.


MAC Lab. 2002. Dipped Earthenwares. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAC Lab). Electronic. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/DiptWares/index-dippedwares.htm accessed January 5, 2017

Sussman, Lynne. 1997. Mocha, Banded, Cat’s Eye, and Other Factory-made Slipware. Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, Boston, MA



About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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