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January 6, 2010

CW's "Pottery with a Past" Symposium explores stoneware in America during the Colonial and Post-Revolutionary Periods

Recent discoveries have brought salt-glazed stoneware to the forefront of current collecting and archaeological research. From the first English settlement onward, salt-glazed stoneware filled an important role in colonial homes and public houses. The symposium, “Pottery with a Past: A New Look at Salt-glazed Stoneware Collections, Research and Archaeology,” brings national and international scholars together to explore the production and distribution of brown, gray and white salt-glazed stoneware from Germany, Britain and America. The event takes place March 18-21 at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Decorative Museum.

Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of collections, conservation and museums and the Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator, welcomes attendees on Thursday, March 18. Janine E. Skerry, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of metals, will deliver the keynote address, “The Devil’s in the Details, or Stoneware Newly Discovered in Early America.”

Presenters include:

  • David Gaimster, general secretary and CEO, Society of Antiquaries of London, “The Holy Family at a Meal and Other Stories: The Stoneware Revolution in the Medieval and Pre-industrial World”;
  • Gerd Kessler, independent assistant, Westerwald Ceramics Museum and Documentation Center, Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany, “The Westerwald Stoneware of the Renaissance and the Baroque: Origin and Phases of Its Development”;
  • Jonathan Horne, specialist in early English pottery, Sampson & Horne Antiques, London, “John Dwight and His Contemporaries”;
  • David Barker, archaeological consultant and ceramics specialist, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England, “Every Sherd Tells a Story—An Archaeological Perspective on Staffordshire Salt-glazed Stoneware”;
  • Diana Edwards, independent scholar, Baltimore, “Dry-bodied Stoneware for America: Is there Evidence?”;
  • Miranda F. Goodby, curator of ceramics, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, England, “‘Barley Corn and Basketwork, Gadroon and Mosaik’: Press-moulding and Slip-casting in mid-18th-century England”;
  • George Haggarty, archaeologist and research associate, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, “Scottish Stoneware 1750-1875: Acorn to Oak Tree”;
  • Robert Hunter, editor, Ceramics in America, Williamsburg, Va., “The Birth of America’s Stone(ware) Age: William Rogers of Yorktown”; and
  • William B. Liebeknecht, archaeological principal investigator, Hunter Research Inc., Trenton, N.J.,“New Jersey’s Role in 18th-century American Stoneware Production.”

    Colonial Williamsburg staff delivering presentations during the conference include:

  • Angelika R. Kuettner, associate registrar for collection documentation and imaging, “Living on the Edge: The Identification of White Salt-glazed Stoneware Plate Patterns”;
  • Meredith M. Poole, staff archaeologist, “Picking Up the Pieces: An Archaeological Perspective on Stoneware from Two Williamsburg Households”;
  • David Blanchfield, director of conservation, and Helen Stockman-Todd, the Samuel and Pauline Clarke Conservator of Objects, “Zapping Electrons: The Scientific Study of Stoneware Objects”; and
  • Suzanne Findlen Hood, associate curator of ceramics and glass, “American Stoneware: Adaptation and Imitation.”

    Two optional programs are available at an additional cost:

  • Historic Jamestowne. Participants spend the day touring the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America. Highlights include a lecture, “Digging Up Dirt on Jamestown: 15 Years of Excavation on America’s Birthplace,” by senior archaeological curator Bly Straube and an in-depth look at the James Fort archaeological site with senior staff archaeologist Jamie May, a behind-the-scenes examination of recent important finds with specific emphasis on stoneware from the site, and a tour of the Archaearium. Registration is limited. Lunch is included.
  • Colonial Williamsburg archaeological collections and William Rogers kiln site. Join Kelly Ladd-Kostro, Colonial Williamsburg’s associate curator of archaeological collections, in a behind-the-scenes tour of fascinating finds with a particular focus on stoneware and recent excavations. Then travel to Yorktown for a detailed look at excavated vessels and the kiln site of the first stoneware potter in America, William Rogers, guided by David Riggs, collection curator, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown, and Rob Hunter, editor, Ceramics in America. Registration is limited. Lunch is included.

    The symposium celebrates the publication of “Salt-glazed Stoneware in Early America” by Colonial Williamsburg curators Janine E. Skerry and Suzanne Findlen Hood and is timed to coincide with the exhibition, “Pottery with a Past: Stoneware in Early America,” the first museum presentation of German, English and American stoneware made prior to 1800. The exhibition will be on view through through Jan. 3, 2011. The book, exhibition and conference are made possible through the generosity of the Richard C. von Hess Foundation.

    Registration is $250. The optional Jamestown and Yorktown programs are $60 each. Preregistration and payment in full are required. Payment can be made in the form of check, or charged to American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard. Registration includes opening and closing receptions, coffee breaks, afternoon tea, Friday lunch and presentations.

    There are four easy ways to register for the “Pottery with a Past” symposium:

  • 1. Online:
  • 2. Phone: 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST
  • 3. Fax: (757) 565-8921
  • 4. Mail: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Conferences, Forums and Workshops, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, Va. 23187-1776.

    Special hotel rates are available through Colonial Williamsburg hotels for symposium registrants. For more information and reservations, call 1-800-603-0948.

    Distinctive dining options are offered throughout the Colonial Williamsburg restaurants and taverns. From a classically elegant setting to a more casual atmosphere to signature tavern dining experiences, each of Colonial Williamsburg’s restaurants and taverns is within steps of the conference facilities. Dining reservations can be made by calling 1-800-261-9530, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg offers a full menu of services. A team of world-renowned experts have collaborated to create a spa that exudes Southern charm, harmonizes with its historical surroundings, reflects its colonial heritage, and honors traditions of health and wellness throughout American culture. To make your reservation, call 1-800-688-6479.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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