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Ceramics


Fairfax County Park Authority
Museum Collections
703-631-1429

Ceramics from around the world are represented in the Fairfax County Park Authority Collections. Made from a variety of clay body types, the forms illustrate all manner of glazed and decorative traditions. Pieces include utilitarian storage containers, tableware associated with our historic sites, and purely decorative art pottery and folk art.


Nanking Bowl
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Nanking Bowl, circa 1800
Chinese
Porcelain
H 4 1/2 L 10 inches
Society of Lees of Virginia Loan, 1977-10-008

From Sully Historic Site in western Fairfax County, Elizabeth Collins Lee ordered a set of "bleu Dinner china" in 1800. Nearly two years later she received a box containing "a Dinner Set of the best blue & white Stone China," including this porcelain bowl.

Manufactured inland during the 18th and 19th centuries, blue and white porcelain was shipped to America and Europe from the port of Nanking (Nanjing). Produced for export rather than domestic consumption, the shapes and decoration characteristically featured Chinese motifs: pagodas, bridges, lotus blossoms, pomegranates, birds and butterflies.



Nanking Drum Teapot
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Nanking Drum Teapot, circa 1790-1820
Chinese
Porcelain
H 5 1/2 D 9 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1990-03-001

A teapot was probably included in the set of "bleu Dinner china" ordered in 1800 by Elizabeth Collins Lee for entertaining at Sully Historic Site in western Fairfax County. Chests of tea arrived along with the set of china.

Featuring a lotus flower knob on the lid, an interlaced handle, and drum shape form, this Chinese export piece is decorated with characteristic blue and white Nanking pattern motifs.



Rose Medallion Plate and Teacup
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Rose Medallion Plate and Teacup, 1840-1880
Chinese
Porcelain
H 2 1/4 D 2 1/2 inches
Society of Lees of Virginia Loan, SLV 1997-18-001 and SLV 1997-18-002

According to family tradition, this teacup and saucer belonged to Elizabeth Collins Lee some years after she moved from Sully Historic Site into Washington, D.C.

An example of mass-produced Chinese export porcelain, these pieces are decorated in the rose medallion style, identified by a predominant rose coloring, floral polychrome and gold decoration, and a central medallion surrounded by four alternating panels.



Covered Jar
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Covered Jar, circa 1825
Chinese
Porcelain
H 15 1/4 D 7 3/4 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1974-01-455

Adorned with fanciful scenes of children at play, this Chinese porcelain storage jar was used to store such basic provisions such as salt, oil and possibly spices.

The jar is an example of "famille verte" (green family) decoration, in which a predominantly green glaze is overlaid with yellow, blue, purple and red coloring.



Redware Plate
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Redware Plate, circa 1780-1880
American
Red Earthenware or "Redware"
D 77/8 inches
Gift of Carlotta Gonzales Lahey, 2001-06-107

This plate is a typical example of redware, a type of American-made utilitarian earthenware widely used in the colonial period and into the 19th-century.

Its characteristic red color and porous, rough clay body, redware typically was partly coated with a clear lead glaze and often decorated with simple curvilinear patterns applied in a contrasting slip, or liquid clay.



Bean Crock
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Bean Crock, circa 1830-1900
American
Red Earthenware or "Redware"
H 4 1/2 D 4 1/2 (at base) D 3 3/4 (at top) inches
Gift of Carlotta Gonzales Lahey, 2001-06-108ab

Redware was often used for utilitarian pieces across the United States. Bean crocks were used for cooking as well as food storage. The mottled coloring of this crock is characteristic of its brown "Albany" slip decoration, resulting from a combination of iron salts and manganese in the glaze.



Cake Mold
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Cake Mold, 19th century
American
Red Earthenware or "Redware"
H 5 D 10 1/2 inches
Gift of Carlotta Lahey Gonzales, 2001-06-113

Redware cake molds, like this fluted form, were commonplace in 19th-century American kitchens. Similar in function to modern tube and bundt pans, cake molds were used for breads, cakes, and other baked goods.



Water Filter
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Water Filter, circa 1870
American
Stoneware
H 14.5 D 9 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1978-21-302

Before the advent of clean water systems and good sanitation, a household water filter filled with charcoal helped purify drinking water. Marked "Oliver Evans, Filterer, No. 15 Chesnut St. Philad.", this stoneware filter also served to advertise Evans’ business.

Stronger and denser than earthenware, stoneware served a variety of domestic uses. Ranging in color from off-white or grey to deep brown, salt-glazed stoneware often has cobalt blue markings or decoration.



Cake Pot or Crock
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Cake Pot or Crock, 19th century
American
Stoneware
H 5 1/2 D 9 1/2 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1978-21-298AB

Made in Ohio, this salt-glazed stoneware crock held cake, butter or other foodstuffs. Glazed on both the interior and exterior, the applied design of grapes, leaves, and vines was further enhanced by the addition of cobalt blue oxide.



Hot Water Bottle
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Hot Water Bottle, circa 1870
American
Stoneware
W 10 1/2 W 5 1/2 inches
Gift, 1966-01-11

Stoneware hot bottles were common in late 19th-century American homes in cold weather. Filled with hot water and sealed with a wood or ceramic plug, they retained heat well enough to warm feet and bed linens in the dead of winter. Some forms, like this one, resembled a pig snout and so were called "blind pigs."



Celadon Jardiniere
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Celadon Jardiniere, circa 1875
Chinese
Stoneware
H 12 W 15 inches
Park Authority Purchase, DSPLY 038

A decorative piece in Victorian homes, this jardinière (French for decorative planter) was used to hold large potted plants. Its pale green celadon glaze is typical of Chinese stoneware.



Pap Boat
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Pap Boat, mid-19th century
English or American
Ironstone
H 2 3/4 L 6 inches
Gift, 1971-01-001

Used as a feeding dish for infants and invalids, this "pap" boat is named for the pap or gruel of corn meal and water it held. Featuring a long spout at one end and a curved handle at the other, the piece was easy to use with one hand.

Ironstone, also called "new stone," "English porcelain," "stone china" or "farmer’s china," was intended as a cheaper mass-produced substitute for porcelain.



Sauce Boat
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Sauce Boat, circa 1840
French
Porcelain
H 6 1/2 D 8 1/2
Sully Foundation Loan, SF 161

Purchased by Julia Poser Lee, wife of Richard Bland Lee II who was born at Sully Historic Site, this sauce boat is part of a larger set of "Paris porcelain" owned by the family. Also known as a sauciere, this piece features a bright apricot glaze, painted floral motifs, gilding and a handle ending in a panther head.



Plate
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Plate, circa 1930
American
Ironstone
D 5 1/2 inches
Found in Collections, 1993-05-032-015

Commonly mass-produced and sold in sets, this plate is part of a much larger ensemble used for community events at Great Falls Grange, a local branch of the national farmers’ organization.

Manufactured in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, by the Mayer Pottery Company, the decoration on this heavy duty set of china uses an applied transfer print design.



Flow Blue Plate
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Flow Blue Plate, circa 1900
English
Porcelain
D 8 3/4 inches
Gift, 1974-06-021-05

Originally an attempt to imitate patterns found on Chinese porcelain, flow or "flown" blue ceramics eventually developed a characteristic style all their own. Distinguished by a diffuse, almost runny blue glaze, flow blue pieces often feature blurred images of flowers and vines.



Pearlware Plate
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Pearlware Plate, circa 1780-1830
English
Earthenware
D 9 1/2 inches
Sully Foundation Loan, SF 224

Shards of green shell-edged pearlware were found during excavations at Sully Historic Site. The shell edge design, a common border decoration on pearlware, was created by lightly scoring the rim of the piece and applying a colored glaze with delicate brush strokes on top.

Developed by English potter Josiah Wedgewood in the 1770s, pearlware is characterized by a bluish-white tone produced by adding a touch of cobalt-oxide to the glaze. Wedgewood hoped his new "Pearl White" product would supplant the then popular cream-colored "Queen’s Ware".



Art Pottery Vase
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Art Pottery Vase, circa 1920
American
Stoneware
H 34 D 12 1/2 inches
Gift of Clark Family, 1994-30-001

The family of Wilbur and Minnie Howdershell Clark placed their umbrellas in this tall decorative vase at their farmhouse in the Bailey’s Crossroads area. Today Clark House is a Fairfax County Park Authority site.

Thrown by hand on a potter’s wheel, with its embossed design of ribbons and wheat and sky blue glaze, the vase is typical of early 20th century art pottery.



Imari Bowl
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Imari Bowl, late 19th century
Japanese
Porcelain
H 5 1/4 D 5 1/2 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1974-01-348

Named for the port city of Imari, a center of the Japanese ceramics trade, the designs on this bowl were influenced by native textile and brocade patterns. Imari pieces are characterized by this dense patterning and bright cobalt blue, red and green glaze coloring. A scrolled rim provides the bowl with further elaboration.



Creamware Dessert Mold
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Creamware Dessert Mold, circa 1770
English
Earthenware
L 4 W 3 1/4 inches
Sully Foundation Loan, SF 212

In the 18th-century shallow creamware molds like this one were used for making decorative jellies and jellied desserts.

A durable earthenware ceramic, creamware was popularized by famed potter Josiah Wedgwood, who promoted the style as an affordable alternative to Chinese porcelain. Wedgwood’s line of creamware was especially successful and eventually sold under the trade name "Queen’s Ware" after Queen Charlotte herself ordered a tea set.



Toy Tea Set Plate
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Toy Tea Set Plate, mid-19th century
Origin unknown
Porcelain
D 4 inches
Gift, 1993-24-001-02

This delicate plate and an accompanying cup were discovered in the attic of Sully Historic Site during restoration of the house. Research is still underway to determine which of the families who lived there purchased the pieces and what child ultimately played with the pint-sized dining ware.



Tureen
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Tureen, 19th century
Unknown Origin
Porcelain
L H inches
Gift of Carlotta Gonzales Lahey, 2001-06-012

Part of larger dinner entrée set once owned by Fairfax County artists Richard and Carlotta Gonzales Lahey, the tureen’s bright coloration, ornate knob handle and gilding all suggest a French origin. A useful serving vessel, tureens trace their history to the communal bowl of earlier centuries.



Water Pitcher
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Water Pitcher, 1897-1913
English
Ironstone
H 11 D 5 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1978-21-305-01

Manufactured around 1900, this white ironstone pitcher bears the mark of Alfred Meakin, LTD, a large English pottery company that produced for both domestic and foreign markets. Decorated with a wheat and flowers motif, the pitcher’s shape and design are typical of ironstone ware of the period. Used along with a basin in a bathroom or kitchen, the pitcher likely held water to wash one’s face and hands.

Introduced in England, in the early 1800’s, ironstone was intended to be a mass-produced, porcelain substitute. Hard and durable, ironstone is non-porous and safe for food and drink consumption. Known by several names, ironstone is also referred to as "new stone," "opaque porcelain," "English porcelain," "stone china" and "farmer’s china."



Spatterware Plate
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Spatterware Plate, circa 1840
Probably English
Ironstone
D 8 inches
Park Authority Purchase, 1974-01-458

Spatterware, a utilitarian tableware made in England for export to America and elsewhere, reached its peak of popularity in the mid-19th century. Closely related to spongeware, spatterware is recognizable by its distinct pattern and concise application of "spattered" design. It came in a variety of primary and dark colors, often further embellished with transfer-printed or hand-painted motifs.



Bowl with Base and Pitcher

Bowl with Base and Pitcher
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Bowl with Base and Pitcher, circa 1900-1925
French
Porcelain
H 6-3/4 inches, D 15-5/8 inches
Gift, DSPLY 012 and DSPLY 013

Primarily decorative pieces, the large footed bowl with its matching base and tall pitcher were hand painted and gilded by experienced artists. The bowl is marked "T&V," the pitcher "WQ & Co." and both are marked "Limoges France," indicating that these pieces were made in one of the many china factories in the Limoges region that primarily produced "blanks," or plain molded white wares without any ornamentation. Decoration was applied elsewhere, at studios in France or exported where they would be painted and gilded by hand. The pitcher is further marked "1913 Schulze," identifying the year it was done and probably the artist.


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