David Drake

David Drake, a slave known as "Dave" by pottery scholars and collectors, is the most fascinating character coming from the alkaline-glazed stoneware tradition in Edgefield. Unlike most slaves in the Edgefield factories, whose work is unknown, Drake is recognized as a highly skilled potter who specialized in large-capacity storage jars, many of them holding from twenty to forty gallons. The most remarkable fact about Dave was that he was literate. Dave often signed the ware that he turned, but also further individualized his ware with poems or rhymed couplets incised into the upper body between the lug handles. Signed Dave vessels with verses bear dates ranging from 1834 to 1860. Some of the verses are cryptic and seem to hold deep meaning. The verses also seem to indicate that Drake held a special status in the community.

Alkaline-glazed stoneware storage jar made by David Drake

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