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“E” is for Edgefield pottery

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio
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“E” is for Edgefield pottery. The term “Edgefield pottery” is used to identify alkaline-glazed stoneware first produced in Edgefield District in the 1810s. Edgefield pottery blends the cultural traditions of England, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Many of the potters came from English, Irish, and German backgrounds and contributed their forms and techniques, while enslaved African Americans performed the majority of the labor-intensive tasks. The distinctive glaze (made of wood ash, feldspar, clay, and water) and the use of the groundhog kiln were typical of pottery techniques used in the Far East. The most famous creator of Edgefield pottery was an enslaved man, David Drake, whose beautiful pots (signed and sometimes often inscribed with poetry) are highly-sought-after by museums and folk art collectors. The Edgefield pottery tradition migrated westward into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.