David Drake Crock

Perhaps the best known member of a prolific group of potters in Edgefield, South Carolina, David Drake’s creations set him apart as one of the most remarkable artisans of the antebellum South. This pot is inscribed “LM,” the initials of Drake’s enslaver, and minimally ornamented with a simple pattern of lines and dots. Enslaved at a time when his literacy was illegal, Drake sometimes inscribed his pots with lines of poetry and his own signature, creating unique and expressive works of art from utilitarian vessels that reflect a convergence of African European, and American traditions.

Apart from the exceptional inscriptions, Drake’s pots are notable for their immense size, some holding as many as forty gallons. Throwing such massive pieces with consistency and control would have required significant skill and strength, a reminder of the important contributions of enslaved ceramicists across the country whose work remains anonymous.

Jar (Crock), David Drake, Edgefield, South Carolina, 1843-1863, Stoneware, 1978.0109