African-American Potters of the Antebellum Era

This project has identified a number of previously-undocumented American utilitarian potters of African descent. These will be added to the website as it grows. But here is a helpful list of the few African-American potters operating prior to the Civil War, for whom we have at least something close to signed work.

Thomas W. Commeraw

Circa 1796-1819. Lower East Side, Manhattan. Owner / operator. Salt-glazed, cobalt-decorated stoneware. Many marked examples.


David Drake (commonly, “Dave”)

Circa 1820-1873. Edgefield District, South Carolina. Alkaline-glazed stoneware. Many signed examples.


David Jarbour

Circa 1820-1840’s. Alexandria, Virginia. Salt-glazed, cobalt-decorated stoneware. One signed example, a few initialed examples.


Thomas Valentine

Circa 1820’s-1830’s(?). Alexandria, Virginia. Salt-glazed, cobalt-decorated stoneware. A very few examples with the impressed initial “T” are attributed to him.


Abraham “Abe” Spencer

Circa 1860-1885. Harrisonburg and Strasburg, Virginia. Lead-glazed earthenware (redware). A very few examples with the inscribed initial “A” are attributed to him.


* All dates are working dates.