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June 18, 2011

On a warm clear Saturday afternoon in June spectators of the Strasburg Pottery Fest were informed on how important the pottery trade was to Strasburg during the 18th and 19th centuries. They learned the difference between red-ware and stoneware, also how the salt glaze was made by throwing table salt into the kiln during it's highest firing temperature. The high temperature causes the Sodium from the salt to react with silica in the clay forming a glassy coating of sodium silicate.

The Shenandoah Potters Guild were present showing how pottery is made along with collectors sharing part of their treasured and heirloom collections. The earliest potters of the region were the American Natives. They were making useful vessels from clay approximately 1,000 years ago, shards of these vessels can still be found along the river bottom today.

In 1891 a stream powered pottery building was built, which is now the Strasburg Museum. By 1897 the business was closed therefore ending the pottery era that created so many wonderful pieces that are collected and treasured today. The most regonized names associated with the pottery trade were, Grim, Bell, Eberly, Crisman, Keister, Miller, Fleet, Sonner, Lehew, Hickerson, Kenner, Davidson and Funkhouser families. When visiting Strasburg make sure to put the Strasburg Museum on your list of places to see. When there ask to see the "Virginia Cadden Pottery Room" it contains a fine collection of Strasburg pottery. (for more information on Strasburg pottery click here)

Bob Miller Collector
Here collector, Bob Baker is sharing his knowledge of Strasburg pottery. The collection on the table covers many different makers including Bell pottery, known for its slip of clay, giving the pot an even feel and look.
Here's an example of redware and stoneware. Redware was fired at a cooler temperature making it an excellent cookware. Stoneware was fired at a much higher temperature making it more suitable for storing liquids.
looking inside of the bowls

Looking inside of the redware and stoneware bowls.
row of differnet size jars
Fine examples of different jars and decorations.
John Adamson speaking with spectator
John Adamson gave a wonderful talk on the timeline of Strasburg pottery.
true copy of original Bell Lion
This is a reproduction of what is believed to be Solomon Bell's Lion. Only a few originals still exist today. These whimsical figures were often used as door-stops.
copy of Bell lion
Here is another reproduction of the Bell Lion, only this one has long noodle hair for his mane.
large crocks

These large jars with their cobalt blue decorations and steel gray stoneware color are what you think of when you think "Strasburg Pottery". They were stacked to show how well they fit together. A local landowner while repairing his basement floor discovered about nineteen of these jars with their bottoms knocked out. They were put together to make a sewer pipe, now one wonders how many such sewer pipes exist in the town of Strasburg.
stoneware jar

Another fine example of a beautiful jar made in Strasburg.
Fine examples showing makers marks. The one on the right is a George Baker on the left is Miller & Fleet. The stamps used almost always included "Strasburg, VA" with very few spelling out "Virginia".
Brick and jars
Here is a brick probably manufactured at Strasburg Steam Pottery now Strasburg Museum.

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Created June 20, 2011
Updated June 20, 2011
© 2011 - 2013 Jackie Milburn & Warren Swartz