Cauliflower ware body fragment found in Fairfax County.
Cauliflower ware fragment from the FCPA Archaeology and Collections Branch type collection.
by Elizabeth Paynter – CART Lab Director
Often called cauliflower or vegetable ware, this creamware ceramic is defined by the introduction of a rich green glaze and molded vessels that imitate the shape or attributes of fruits and vegetables. Most often these wares were teapots, coffee pots and plates. People refer to this type of ceramic in a variety of ways. Some include the ceramic as a Whieldon ware type. Others have begun to classify it by its green glaze. Around 1740, this vegetable and fruit ware was developed by Thomas Whieldon and Josiah Wedgewood and the elaborate vessel shapes were designed for them by William Greatbatch.
The cauliflower design was truly made to look like a cauliflower. Cauliflower patterned tea and coffee pots have large bright green molded leaves on the lower part of the vessel. The top of the vessels has a molded cauliflower texture with a cream or yellow glaze. Each portion is very distinct, so even a fragment is usually easy to identify. Pineapple and melon patterns were also popular in the 1760’s and were produced through the 1780’s. (MAC Lab 2015)
For a picture of a whole cauliflower teapot, click here.
FLMNH Ceramic. (n.d.). Whieldon Ware, Cauliflower Pattern. Historical Archaeology. Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Electronic. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/histarch/gallery_types/type_list.asp accessed February 8, 2018
MAC Lab. 2015. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/index.htm accessed February 8, 2018
Wedgewood. (n.d.). Wedgewood and Nature. The Wedgewood Museum. http://wedgwoodmuseum.org.uk/collections/themes/theme/wedgwood-and-nature/object/cauliflower-ware-teapot accessed February 8, 2018
Today at the 31st annual Mount Vernon Supervisor’s Town Hall at Mount Vernon HS!
Dr. Elizabeth Crowell, Archaeology and Collections Branch Manager, was recently interviewed for INSIDENOVA.
(shown here with Dr. Douglas Sanford in March 2017)
by Haley Hoffman – Archaeological Field and Lab Technician
As many of you know, here at CART we eat, sleep and breath historic ceramics. So when a unique and perplexing piece comes through our doors we are more than intrigued. Recent excavations have uncovered an interesting piece of what we believe to be a variety of Nottingham Stoneware (see picture). Nottingham was originally produced by James Morely starting in 1700 in, you guessed it, Nottingham, England, and produced later on in other locales like Derbyshire and Staffordshire until around 1810. (FLMNH n.d.) Like other stonewares, it has a hard homogenous body with no inclusions. It typically has a thin grey body but can also be found with buff or orange bodies. What makes Nottingham unique is its brown burnished metal look (MAC Lab 2015). This is achieved by applying an iron based brown-orange wash before the salt glaze (Gallucci 1997). The wash can sometimes totally eliminate any signs of the typical “orange peel” look found on other salt glazed stonewares. In some cases, a thin white slip can be seen beneath the glaze in cross section. Nottingham ceramics can have a wide array of decorative patterns and techniques. Techniques included “incising, press molding, piercing, sprig molding, rouletting and rustication” (MAC Lab 2015). Floral, scroll and armorial motifs were often present as well as simple riling and geometric lines. Rustication techniques such as applied grog, crumb and shavings became more prevalent on Nottingham around the 1750s. (FLMNH n.d.)
Which brings us back to the curious piece of ceramic we have (see picture above). The sherd has a thin, grey vitrified body with a brownish-orange matte exterior. There is no evidence of the typical “orange peel” look and the matte “glaze” looks like it is covered in sporadic metallic sparkles. The sherd’s decoration is even more intriguing. There are six (visible) bands of incised shapes and curved lines (see below).The matte but metallic exterior probably looks the way it does from degradation and the incised scroll motif, however odd, is consistent with the reported decorative techniques.
MAC Lab, 2015. “Nottingham – type.” Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Accessed December 11, 2017. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/ColonialCeramics/Colonial%20Ware%20Descriptions/Nottingham.html
FLMNH Ceramic. (n.d.). Stoneware, Nottingham – Type Index. Historical Archaeology. Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Electronic. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/histarch/gallery_types/type_index_display.asp?type_name=STONEWARE,%20NOTTINGHAM
Gallucci, Timothy R. 1997. The early American salt-glazed stoneware jug as art and artifact: A critical approach to interpreting the aesthetic meanings and cultural origins of a craft archetype. The Pennsylvania State University.