The City of Pottery Love!



Philly Slip

Staffordshire Slip


Recent excavations at a colonial site have uncovered beautiful sherds of Philadelphia Slipware or “Philly Slip” for short. Philadelphia style pottery is often attributed to Henry Piercy, a Philadelphia potter, but since this style has been found in archaeological sites as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Barbados, it is possible that potters were mimicking Piercy’s style rather than importing the ceramics from Philadelphia (Magid and Means 2003).

Philly slip has stylistic elements similar to English Staffordshire Slip but differ in paste and some slip colors. The American version is a coarse red or orange bodied earthenware decorated with a white clay slip. Once the clear lead glaze was applied to the vessel, the white clay slip appears as more of a yellow slip. The English version is a coarse buff-colored earthenware with a brown clay slip. Slip is a water and clay mixture and is applied using a slip cup and trailing the clay along the vessel which produces wavy or straight lines of varying thickness around the vessel. Some Philly Slip vessels may incorporate copper-oxide splotches, Sgraffito, or Moravian decorative elements. Some of the sherds we’ve uncovered during our current excavation have a crenulated or “pie crust” rim, a decorative element also seen on Staffordshire Slip.


Magid, B. H. and Means, B. K. 2003. “In the Philadelphia Style: The Pottery of Henry Piercy.” In Ceramics in America, edited by Robert Hunter, 47-86. Milwaukee, WI: Chipstone Foundation.

Further Reading (Be sure to check out the links in the post!):

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab. 2002. “North Devon Sgraffito Earthenware” Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. Accessed April 14, 2017.

“Meaning and Metaphor in North Carolina Moravian Slipware.” 2011. Accessed April 14, 2017.–metaphor-in-north-carolina-moravian-slipware?tmpl=component&print=1#.WPDxM8t1q70


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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