One of America's Leading Potters Was an Enslaved African in New York City
And was related to the family of potters who owned him
|Colonial American pottery shards from the African Burial Ground in NYC, by Meta F. Janowitz, archaeologist.|
By: Pearl Duncan
NEW YORK, NY
In fine arts, from painting, drawing, sculpture, and even in decorative arts, we have had works misattributed, but usually, they are works from the distant past, and the artists were so prolific and so creative, they labeled some works and not others. But misattribution also happens in art from the recent past, as recently as the American Colonial century, only two hundred years ago. But who knew that misattribution happens not only in identifying artworks, but in identifying and describing the known artist’s race.
Racial misidentification of the artist -- that is what happened to one of America’s earliest, most well-known stoneware pottery makers, who operated a colonial business from 1797 to 1819, whose works have been auctioned by Sotheby’s and other leading auction houses, whose work is showcased in the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum and other museums.
Colonial Americans had a flair for the decorative arts. Some of their utilitarian ceramics, their storage jugs, canning, oyster and pickle jars, crocks and pots were artfully decorated with nature scenes. Their utilitarian pottery, their stoneware, sometimes used on the ships of wealthy merchant clients, are now prized by collectors as decorative arts.
The secret of this artist is a delight to decorative arts collectors. I will reveal the name of the artist who is surprising collectors later in this article. With the upsurge of genealogy, not only as family history but as national, social or artistic history, art researchers are changing what we know about the backgrounds of colonials, and colonial arts. Archaeologists working at building construction sites also reveal exciting new secrets.
The New York City sites that have been upending the new knowledge about American colonial decorative arts are the World Trade Center, the African Burial Ground, Wall Street and the Financial District. These construction sites in olde New York are changing what collectors of decorative arts know about colonial artisans and arts.
New York City, one of the oldest parts of the country, where the Congress first met, where there was a lucrative international maritime port, where the first President was inaugurated, has many buried treasures and secrets. The city’s earliest merchants and social, business and political leaders, who were nobles commissioned and controlled by Dutch and British royals, ran the international maritime shipping trades. They imported much of the decorative arts from Europe and Asia.
Then in the years leading up to, and after the American Revolution in 1776, American colonial artists, artisans and craftsmen created vast numbers of decorative arts in the 18th and 19th centuries. But the art was more primitive. And, specific creators and provenance of this art have not been fully identified, because so much of the history from this era is still buried in the archives and in the ground.
But genealogy and similar research is changing information, not only about families, but about the nation and the arts.
One event that has helped collectors identify specific American colonial decorative arts is the discovery of artifacts at construction and archaeological sites in places such as olde New York, which were the creative and commercial centers of the American Colonies. The work of archaeologists and the discovery of artifacts at building construction sites such as underground at the World Trade Center, at Wall Street and in the Financial District, where the landfills were created on the shores of the Hudson and East Rivers, continues to reveal the provenance of much of America’s decorative, maritime and architectural arts.
Surprisingly, household artifacts discovered at the building construction and archaeological site at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, north of City Hall Park and Wall Street, now help collectors identify the provenance of American colonial decorative arts. The colonial city was a wealth of arts and crafts. Underground sites reveal how blended the artists and creators were, as they were from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.
This was an era when Wall Street was residential, and merchants and families owned slaves in New York. The streets were lined with mansions, businesses and offices owned by moguls and political leaders, many of whom became the country’s Founding Fathers. In the early centuries, not only was the city controlled by the Dutch and their Dutch West India Trading Company, led by Director-General Peter Stuyvesant, but it was also controlled by royal governors, who were nobles or commissioned military officers selected by the British royals.
Many merchants who settled in the city, whether they were Dutch, British or from other European countries, such as Rhinelanders from Germany, brought with them the creative and decorative arts of their original countries. Other settlers, such as the free and enslaved Africans from many different African countries, Jewish small business owners, and indentured Irish, German and other servants, were the workers and laborers, but they also had their skills and crafts.
So today, a review of Colonial American arts and artifacts in the city, one of the oldest commercial centers in the country, reveals a unique blend of people and cultures who created the nation’s arts.
From the summer of 2010 when half of an 18th-century merchant cargo trading ship was discovered in the foundations of the World Trade center, and again in the summer of 2011 when the other half was uncovered by construction workers and archaeologists, I have researched the ship, her wealthy owner, sea adventures and artifacts.
My historical research identified the ship two weeks after she was first discovered.
The mysterious square-rigged 18th-century World Trade Center merchant cargo ship revealed secret details about America’s history that archaeologists, non-archaeologists and collectors relish.
The mystery to everyone is how and why the 18th-century merchant cargo ship ended up beneath the Hudson River, before parts of the River formed a landfill, becoming the city’s streets and valuable commercial and residential waterfront real estate in the Financial District. So far, the ship has revealed many secrets. Among the military, commercial and household artifacts, the shoes, animal bones, ammunitions, smoking pipes, coins, buttons, there were shards of pottery scattered across the ship’s hull. Tracing this pottery tells us who these colonial New Yorkers were, and how they lived, traveled, created and worked. In the heavy winds that blew ahead of a freak once-in-a-century summer hurricane of 2011, I traced the pottery on the ship, as I’d already traced her other artifacts.
I believed that if a ship can rise from beneath the muddy foundations of buildings and streets from centuries ago, so can art records.
One of the most fascinating artifacts on the ship, among the many items uncovered, was a shard of pottery with a primitive drawing on the pottery fragment. The image on the pottery led me to a major discovery and a secret about the practitioners, creators, artists and merchant clients of Colonial American decorative arts. The drawing on the pottery is an outline of the face and torso of a man, a worker whose head is covered.
I looked at the features of the figure in the drawing -- thick, wide nose and full lips, and I asked my friends if the image in the sketch on the pottery fragment looks like the features of a black man, an African-American.
And, like I had done for the other artifacts described by the archaeologists and conservators, like I had traced the wealthy New York families connected to the timbers from the 1700s, the ammunitions: a cannonball, musket balls, gun pellets, birdshots, buckshots, grapeshots; a British coin, a British soldier’s uniform’s regimental button, and other materials to specific owners and shipyards, I traced the unique pottery fragment, which had a cobalt blue primitive-style sketch of a man’s face. As an author who had done genealogical research in the Colonies and found ancestors in New York, both in early and late 18th century, I knew where to look in the city’s Municipal Archives to find lost pottery makers and pottery importers.
When colonial pottery was found underground on Wall Street, I had written an article about wealthy Colonial New Yorkers like the van Cortlandts and their family crests, imprinted on expensive imported pottery, lost where they lived in New York. But this was different. The ship’s pottery was different from the other colonial pottery that had been uncovered in archaeological excavations in New York. In April, 2011, another team of archaeologists, excavating at a Wall Street construction site, found ceramics and other artifacts in a well under the street.
But unlike the pottery found on the World Trade Center ship, this pottery from the Wall Street excavation was expensive, top-shelf quality colonial ceramics, imported from Europe. Records show that the farm and brewery at the Financial District’s colonial site belonged to generations of the van Cortlandts, Jacobus and Stephanus, prominent New York merchants.
So who were the owners and creators of the primitive pottery found on the World Trade Center ship?
There are layers of ancestors. New York in the 17th and early 18th centuries was Lower Manhattan, New Amsterdam. At the beginning of the 1600s under the Dutch, the Dutch West India Trading Company and Governor Peter Stuyvesant, after the Dutch conquered the Lenape Native Americans, New York State was the New Netherland Colony.
When the British conquered the Dutch in 1664, wealthy Dutch merchants like the Van Cortlandts and British officers and merchants traded internationally, and import their household items from their native countries abroad. The wealthy merchant families who traded with European countries, including England, Holland and France, imported polished pottery, which bore the families’ European and Colonial coats of arms, like the van Cortlandts’ windmills, garlands and stars. The ship’s pottery was different, more primitive. Unlike the polished, imported pottery, the shards have primitive images, not emblems of wealthy families’ coats of arms.
Was the pottery American?
I researched “pottery in colonial New York.” I found that furnaces or kilns for making stoneware pottery were not built in the American Colonies until the later centuries. One of the first kilns was built in New York, at a stoneware factory adjoining the place the colonials called, “The Negroes Burying Place,” today’s African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan.
A German family from Rhineland, the Crolius-Remmey family, operated kilns or furnaces in the place known as Potter’s Hill near Collect Pond, at today’s New York Foley Square, Tribeca, Chinatown, Canal Street, the Civic Center. Records show that The Corporation of the City of New York operated a furnace at Little Collect Pond, at Chambers Street and Broadway, adjoining the African Burial Ground. So the African Burial Ground was surrounded by a pottery factory on the north and one on the south. Colonial deeds, wills and records reveal much about the city.
Free African-American ancestors owned farms adjoining the African Burial Ground. There was a slave market in the Financial District at Wall and Pearl Streets. The workers in the pottery furnace were slaves and free African-Americans.
So, as a genealogist, the questions I asked myself were, How is it I’d never come across information about the pottery factories before?
I wanted to know if the blue cobalt image on the pottery fragment sketched by an African-American artist at the stoneware factory furnace that manufactured the pottery. I wanted to know if the slaves and free people who worked in New York’s pottery furnaces sketch images of themselves in the glaze, fired on the pottery. The pottery fragments were found on a square-rigged merchant cargo ship, found ten blocks from where the colonial stoneware factory operated. Given that there were so few kilns or furnaces in the American Colonies during this early era, I found that the decorative image on the ship’s shard of pottery must have been slipware pottery from a New York factory furnace, factories owned by three generations of a German family, from the 1700s to the 1800s.
The family’s stoneware factories had the business names, through the years, of Corselius Pottery, Remmey & Crolius Pottery, and in later years, Clarkson Crolius Pottery. They were unique because they were the first stoneware factories, kilns and furnaces in America. The first stoneware kilns built in the Colonies were built in New York early in the 1730s by members of the Crolius family, under the foundation of the house, located at the fifth building from the corner of Centre and Reade Streets in today’s Tribeca in New York City. As a family, they built and operated kilns in this area known as Potters Pump and Potter’s Hill until the 1850s.
The Corselius Pottery stoneware factory furnace was opened by John Remmey in 1735. It became Remmey & Crolius in 1742, and in 1762 it was Clarkson Crolius Pottery. Their pottery, called slipware, was red, brown or buff, with a cream colored, tinted green, blue or pink clay decoration. The slipware color was poured on the pottery through a quill where it dried before it was fired and glazed. The workers in their pottery furnaces, including the city-owned furnace, were African-American slaves, then later they were freemen.
On the factory’s water jugs, cooking pots, vinegar and molasses jugs, pitchers, bowls, plates, primitive line drawings, sketches of men, women, birds, flowers and animals are prominent, just like the image of the Negroid male on pottery shard found on the ship.
But I still wasn’t sure about the image, so I searched. Then, voilà. Historians at the Edgefield archaeological site in South Carolina found similar images of African-Americans on Colonial American pottery. The South Carolina pottery factories were later than those in New York, but the historians there said they uncovered that, “Advertisements in local newspapers in the early decades of the 1800s listed enslaved laborers with skills in pottery production.” Their report said, “African Americans most likely participated in all phases of the production process, such as: building and maintaining the kilns; digging and transporting clay; working and grinding raw clay in ‘pug’ mills; chopping wood for fuel; preparing glaze mixtures, tempers, and clay pastes; turning the pottery wheels and shaping the vessels; and loading and unloading the kiln firings.”
These secrets have been recovered.
They are revealing information that is a treasure for art collectors and historians. Newly recovered colonial artifacts, like the shard of pottery found on the ship, survive to remind us of our ancestors’ diversity and creativity. Their stories add to the narratives of Americans and American artists we barely knew.
This story of colonial potters is not unlike stories I found on my own family tree, and stories that exist on many blended family trees in America and other places in the world.
In 2011, historians at the Edgefield archaeological site in South Carolina found distinctive images of African-Americans on Colonial American pottery. The South Carolina pottery factories operated later than those in New York, but the historians said they uncovered reports showing how “Advertisements in local newspapers in the early decades of the 1800s listed enslaved laborers with skills in pottery production.” The archaeological historians reported that, “African Americans most likely participated in all phases of the production process, such as: building and maintaining the kilns; digging and transporting clay; working and grinding raw clay in ‘pug’ mills; chopping wood for fuel; preparing glaze mixtures, tempers, and clay pastes; turning the pottery wheels and shaping the vessels; and loading and unloading the kiln firings.”
This information, lost in the historical narratives, has now been recovered in New York thanks to a ship that resurfaced at the World Trade Center and to other details being uncovered by archaeological researchers and historians. Newly recovered colonial artifacts, like the shards of pottery found on the ship, survive to remind us of diversity and how these ancestors lived, worked and survived. Stories of lost families and lost art and artisans add to the stories about America. They highlight the people, entrepreneurs and heroes of Colonial America we did not know. Finding and embracing this complex diversity and people is one of the rewards of a genealogical perspective of art history.
These lost stories and records point to ancestors and art that are worth remembering and celebrating. Now that we know that the workers in the kilns were free and enslaved Africans in German-owning families, we see the many blue cobalt patterns and images in a new light.
One revelation in the lost art of these colonial families is the pattern called “watch spring” looks identical to the sankofa pattern of the potters of medieval Ghana, West Africa.
Willem Crolius, the New York City potter, from one of the country’s earliest and most important family of potters, in his 1778 will, said he was ill and infirm in Middle Brook in Somerset, New Jersey, so he wanted to free his slaves. He freed his slaves, because he said, “With a proper recognition of the pending struggle of the American people to secure their own freedom,” I “provide that my slaves Tom and wife Venus and their children should be freed.”
This document may now unravel a mystery in American art history. What happened to Tom is a mystery, but there are new clues.
Warren R. Perry and Janet L. Woodruff reported that archaeologists, anthropologists and geneticists who recovered and re-interred the remains of the Africans at the African Burial Ground found “a fragment of kiln furniture” on the lumbar vertebrae of one female. Pottery with similar curved designs was discovered on the bodies, on coffins and in the grave shafts throughout the Burial Ground, about ten blocks from where the World Trade Center ship was uncovered. So the ancestors, descendants, friends and relatives of Tom and Venus who lived, worked and created in New York may be in the African Burial Ground, and may be the secret, underlying one of the country’s most interesting art histories.
Members of the Crolius and Remmey family were the earliest and most influential stoneware potters in early Colonial America. So was Thomas W. Commeraw, who produced masterful pottery in the middle years of the Crolius and Remmey era. He operated a successful pottery factory at Corlears Hook in Lower Manhattan from 1797 to 1819. The ceramic art historian, Brandt Zipp, who has been researching Commeraw and other colonial stoneware artists, operates the Crocker Farm auction house in Maryland.
The auction house will be holding an auction of colonial master potters on July 21st.
Thomas Commeraw’s pottery business worked with The Croliuses and the Remmeys, supplying the world’s wealthiest customers. As noted on the incisions painted on his pottery, his kiln was located at Corlears Hook, New York, a few blocks north of Potters Hill, the pottery center of the Crolius-Remmey family. Commeraw’s business endeavor parallels that of the Crolius and Remmey family, so though some historians have speculated that he competed with them, it is evident now that he worked as a branch of the family’s pottery business.
Art historians who researched European potters say different members in Germany’s Rhineland potters’ families created kilns as branches of a family business in the same locations. They established different family members in businesses with kilns in nearby places. And this was the story in New York and other American Colonies. Georg Corcilius, a Rhineland potter, emigrated to New York City and started a pottery business soon after he arrived in 1718. Johann Wilhelm Crolius emigrated from the Kannenbäckerland, Germany in 1718, changed his name to the Anglicized William Crolius, and started a factory on Potter’s Hill in 1728.
Another Rhineland potter, Johannes Remmi, emigrated from Rhineland in 1731, changed his name to the Anglicized, John Remmey, and started a business on Potter’s Hill in Manhattan in 1735. Crolius and Remmey of Rhineland, created a family business by marrying sisters, the daughters of Georg Corcilius, the first Rhineland potter who built a kiln. John Remmey produced a blue-gray salt-glazed stoneware in his kiln, and William Crolius produced a tan salt-glazed stoneware.
At the beginning of the 1700s, they operated three potteries in the city. By the end of the 1700s, Commeraw, a free African American, also operated a kiln, producing pottery in a similar distinct style. He was a member of America’s earliest potters.
This is breaking news.
He may also have been from an African group skilled in pottery-making. Art historians and genealogists will unravel and reveal much more about the roots, family and artistry of Thomas Commeraw, and the relation to Tom and his wife Venus, the African-Americans noted in William Crolius’ will.
Well, here’s the new news revealing that Thomas Commeraw, the free African American artist, was most likely Tom, William Corlius’ freed, manumitted slave. Or he may have been Tom’s and Venus’ son.
An art historian reviewing the 1810 Census a few years ago found that Thomas Commeraw is African American, not European and French as had been thought because of his name, often misspelled, French style. For all the years that collectors had been collecting, they thought this early master artist, Thomas Commeraw, was European.
In a major antiques magazine, a recent article on American stoneware pottery described the early masters, including William Crolius, John Remmey and David Morgan. The author, described these masterful colonial potters, from 1795 to 1803, and said, David Morgan “worked at Coerlear’s (often spelled ‘Corlears’) Hook Pottery.” He said, for a short time after, he “worked for John Crolius Jr. and later with Thomas Commereau.”
So some art writers still say this potter was French European. In art history, Thomas Commeraw, this colonial artist and potter businessman has been overlooked. The 1909 book, The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States: An Historical Review of American Ceramic Art from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, profiles Crolius and Remmey but does not mention Commeraw or the Corlears Hook Pottery. But as Brandt Zipp revealed, and as my own research into the artifacts from 18th-century merchant cargo ship is uncovering, many different Americans worked and created art and wealth in Early Colonial America. Willem Crolius’ 1778 will revealed that he freed his slave, Tom. Now I ask if Crolius’ slave, Tom, was the stoneware pottery and colonial businessman, Thomas Commeraw, the artist art historians are now identifying as a free African American.
The New York Times in 2011 reported Zipp’s findings, that Commeraw, was an abolitionist and defender of the Colonies in the War of 1812. He emigrated to be a leader in Sierra Leone in West Africa in 1820. The article said, “No one quite knows how he learned his trade and built a business that produced perhaps thousands of pots a year.” So now I also ask if Tom, the slave Crolius freed, manumitted, the slave who must have worked in the Crolius family’s pottery factories, where he learned his trade, was not only Thomas Commeraw or Commeraw’s son, but was related to a Crolius or Remmey family member. His migration and movements, including the closing of his business in 1820, parallels that of the family.
Commeraw is noted in the records as a mulatto. This means he had both African and European ancestors, as other African Americans in the Colonies did. One of Commeraw’s leading customers, as noted by the discovery of oyster jars, was Daniel Johnson (Pratt), a New York colonial oysterman and businessman. He too was a leading Colonial American African American businessman.
One of Commeraw’s distinctive painted blue cobalt images on his pottery is the clamshell design. Samuel Johnson, the first President of King’s College, (Columbia University), may also be related to this African American oysterman. There is much more to be explored about these colonial artists and businessmen. We do not know Thomas’ age when he was freed from slavery. He operated a successful pottery business alongside the Crolius and Remmey family, and supplied jugs, jars, crocks, coolers and other pottery to wealthy merchants who operated international shipping businesses.
The New York merchants were Dutch and British. Commeraw’s stoneware pottery has been discovered in the seaports in Norway and at a Dutch fort in Guyana. So his pottery will be discovered not only in America but in any part of the world, especially seaports, because his pottery and the pottery of other Colonial American masters were storage vessels on ships.
Commeraw’s pottery is unique, because it is distinct from others, though it is quite similar to the Crolius and Remmey family’s for whom he was a slave, and in whose pottery factories he labored. Thomas Coommeraw’s stoneware has distinctive cobalt blue salt-glazed painted floral, spiral, butterfly, swags, dots, bird and human designs. It’s similarity to the Crolius stoneware is obvious. On the Crolius stoneware and a few of Commeraw’s stoneware, a single band of swags in the garland in cobalt blue, is painted across the front of the pottery, circling the neck and base. On other of Commeraw’s stoneware pottery, there are two horizontal columns of swags, or clamshells, facing each other up and down across the front of the jug or crock, creating circles around the artist’s name.
The name, “Commeraw Stoneware” dominates the front of the pottery. And outside the garlands, the name has grapes, flowers, where the cobalt blue paint says, “Corlears Hook, New York.” This extended family of potters, which included William Crolius, born Willem in New York City in 1731, who died in Somerset, New Jersey, and his brother, John, born Johannes in 1733, and their brothers Peter, born 1736 and George, born 1738, created great art.
They did business in the city on Potter’s Hill until 1849. Potter’s Hill where the potters flourished was demolished and gentrified in 1812. John Remmey, who married, Anna, died in 1762, and his son, John Remmey, 2nd also did business on Potter’s Hill. Then, John Remmey, 3rd and Henry Remmey ran the business as partners in 1790, two years before their father died. Henry left the business and the city in 1794 under a cloud of business, financial and political improprieties. But John Remmey, 3rd remained on Potter’s Hill and in city politics until he closed the pottery in 1831, before he died in 1839.
One of Remmey’s great-grandsons, Joseph Henry Remmey, founded a pottery in South Amboy, New Jersey in 1820 and operated the business until 1833.
Another great-grandson, Henry Remmey, settled in Philadelphia about 1810 and operated kilns in Philadelphia and Baltimore. He operated in Baltimore until 1835 and Philadelphia until 1870. Richard Remmey operated a kiln in Philadelphia until the late 19th century. William Crolius, who married the potter’s daughter, Veronica, operated the pottery with his brother and partner, Peter. He headed a multigenerational line of potters, which included five William Croliuses, five John Croliuses, Peter Crolius, and Clarkson Crolius, Sr., and Jr. Clarkson Crolius, Sr. operated a kiln on Potter’s Hill from 1790 to 1830, and Carlson Crolius, Jr., from 1830 to 1850, before he retired in 1870.
The women’s families were also important in this history. The Clarkson on the family tree is from Maria Carlson, who married John Crolius. Another major pottery name is from William Crolius’ grandson, John, who married Jane Morgan. David Morgan in New York and later James Morgan in New Jersey ran major potteries. Stoneware was all in the family.
A year before his death in 1843, Clarkson Crolius, Sr. wrote about the first stoneware kiln or furnace built in the country, and said it was built in New York City in “1730 or thereabouts.” He described the kiln and included a drawing. He wrote, “The lower part or arches are under the foundation of the house on the 5th lot from the corner of Centre and Reade Streets; the house is 17 feet wide. It was first called Corselius’ Pottery, afterwards Crolius’s Pottery; what was called Potters Pump, celebrated for the purity of its water, was taken into the large well now used by the Manhattan Company for City purposes; it was at the foot of the hill called Potters Hill.” He knew the area very well, as one of the officials who created today’s City Hall Park, which at the time they called, “The Fields.”
Today, Potters Hill is on the edge of Tribeca, but at the time, it was outside the city limits, which was then at Fulton Street, called Partition Street. Much of the Crolius pottery that’s collected today is from Clarkson Crolius, Sr, William Crolius’ grandson, born in 1774 and his great-grandson, Carlson Crolius, Jr, born in 1801.
Clarkson Street in Greenwich Village bears the family name. It was named for Matthew Clarkson, a General in the American Revolutionary War, who became a State University of New York regent, an abolitionist politician, President of New York Hospital (where my Scottish ancestor was once hospitalized), Director of the New York Manufacturing Society, and President of the Bank of New York, formed by Alexander Hamilton, so some family members were abolitionists. In the end, fifteen potters, including the founding Rhineland emigrant potter’s great-grandson, Clarkson Crolius, Jr., practiced from 1728 to 1870.
Much of the Crolius tan or light grey pottery that is collected today is signed, “C. Crolius Manufacturer Manhattan-Wells New-York.” Some of the family’s early unmarked pottery, unfortunately, is sometimes mislabeled, imported English stoneware. Other examples of their pottery is stamped, “C. Crolius Manufacturer New-York.
The family’s productivity, creativity and prominence improved and flourished in the years leading up to the War of 1812, because of embargoed European imported goods. Their New York potteries increased production and quality, but then they closed some of their New York potteries in 1820 as the family’s potters migrated again, between 1810 and 1820. Crolius and Remmey salt-glazed stoneware pottery is a light mustard grey or tan, decorated with cobalt-blue flowers or garlands. Thomas Commeraw’s pottery also has flowers and garlands, but also has the distinctive clamshell cobalt patterns.
With the new-found research and genealogical details, the artist Thomas Commeraw will be revisited as a member of the extended Crolius-Remmey-Carlson-Morgan family. Corlears Hook Pottery on the East River was in an active shipping area. Maps and records show the “pot-baker’s” property among the houses and businesses adjoining Nicholas Bayard’s estate on Bayard’ Hill, the “High Ground” on the East River at Corlears Hook. Like the modern landfill at the Trade Center on the Hudson River on the west side of Wall Street, Corlears Hook became a colonial landfill at the end of Lower Manhattan’s Cherry Street on the River. Thomas Commeraw’s pottery factory was on the waterfront.
So it is apt that stoneware pottery crafted by his ancestors and related artists is found on an 18th-century merchant cargo colonial ship.
The story of New York’s stoneware artists is changing collectors’ behavior.
On October 13, Brandt and Mark Zipp will discuss Manhattan stoneware at the Gunn Historical Museum in Washington, Connecticut. The auctioneer-historians will feature four master potters and their works -- Clarkson Crolius, Thomas W. Commeraw, Henry Remmey and John Remmey, 3rd, then they will appraise participants’ Colonial American stoneware. Ceramic art historian Brandt Zipp is writing a book about these colonials. He may have discovered other secrets.
It is very rare to find American stoneware pottery from the 1700s and early 1800s. When we find their artworks, they are in high-end art auctions, or in museums. This is a find. Art events for collectors The Gunn Memorial Museum in Connecticut showcases seminars and exhibits about New York’s colonial art, and interestingly, these events are related to the artifacts discovered on the World Trade Center ship.
Archaeological Evidence of Early Stoneware in New York City is the subject of a lecture by Dr. Meta Janowitz, an archaeologist from New York’s African Burial Ground Project. Art from the Earth: Early American Stoneware, an exhibit, features more than one hundred works of decorated stoneware, from 1780 to 1880. This exhibit is on display from May through October 14, 2012. Manhattan Stoneware, 1795-1820, will be a lecture by Brandt and Mark Zipp of Crocker Farm Auctions. On Saturday, October 13th at 10:00 a.m, they will lecture and do a free appraisal of visitors’ stoneware and redware.
Pearl Duncan A New York author who researched and found ancestors who were African rebel slaves plus nobles related to British royals, is completing a book about her American genealogy, cultural history, DNA, family nicknames and folklore she traced to Colonial African Americans, Caribbeans, Europeans and Africans. She is also completing another book about the name, identity, colonial owner and seas adventures of the 18th-century World Trade Center cargo ship.
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