Thursday, March 18, 2010
A Very Yankee Thing
I've done a very unusual thing, something that is practically unheard of here in the South. I have bought a piece of redware. Pennsylvania redware. Antique old Northern redware. Yankee redware.
Southerners, even antiquer people, know little to nothing about it. It is a New England thing. We didn't have it down here. We don't have it now. We used Staffordshire and china and ironstone and our own spit-tobacco and kiln fired pottery. I've done antiques for over forty years, and have never seen a single piece of it in any shop.
But I began to notice the stuff in the magazine Early American Life. It seems that the primitive house people always had some of it tucked away nicely in a wall shelf next to the other Yankee item, the pewter plates. I thought it was ugly. The decorations looked like something a child would do with a magic marker.
But, slowly, it began to grow on me. Then Jill Peterson's book The Settlement came out, and there was more of it. Maybe just a hint here and there. Then Frederick (the dealer in Maine who writes the blog called The Chimney Cupboard) posted a picture of a really old piece of it on his page. That was it. Obviously, I thought, if one has a primitive house, one must have redware.
So I went on ebay and bought a piece. An old bowl. Nothing spectacular- it has its share of chips and cracks and burned spots. I didn't want it to be perfect. Otherwise, it might be new or repro and I'd be in danger of having a piece of yankee ceramics in the house.
My redware bowl is the real deal. No doubt that it's got some age to it, as my favorite auctioneer Gorden Headly used to say. It should arrive in the mail soon, and I'll find a spot for it in the log room, a place where it won't draw too much attention, lest I have to explain to everyone why something so foreign as redware should be resting in my house, next to the pewter plates and the whale-oil lamp.