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American Decorative Arts
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Maker: Joseph Smith, American, 1731–1777

Tea Caddy


Earthenware with white slip decoration

6 3/4 × 5 × 5 in. (17.2 × 12.7 × 12.7 cm)
Gift of C. Sanford Bull, B.A. 1893
This large tea caddy, essentially an English form, shows techniques more commonly associated with Pennsylvania-Dutch pottery made by members of the Moravian religious sect who settled in eastern Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century. These German-speaking potters applied contrasting coats of slip, or liquid clay, over a red clay body to decorate domestic crockery. In sgraffito, the main technique employed here, Joseph Smith scratched out a design of a tree in the slip. His choice of subject appears to have derived from the raised tree motifs that decorated English salt-glaze stoneware tea caddies. Such imported luxury wares would have resonated with the Anglo-American potter, who made this special object from local materials for his daughter, whose name is inscribed.
Made in Wrightstown, Pennsylvania
On view
18th century
Containers - Ceramics

Edwin AtLee Barber, Tulip Ware of the Pennsylvania-German Potters (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, 1903), 108–109, fig. 27.

Edwin AtLee Barber, Lead Glazed Pottery: Part First, Common Clays: Plain Glazed, Sgraffito and Slip-Decorated Wares (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1907), 13, fig. 11.

Edwin AtLee Barber, Pottery and Porcelain of the United States (Watkins Glen, New York: Century House Americana, 1971), 68-69, fig. 29.

Florence Mellows Montgomery, “Ceramics, Glass, and Textiles at Yale,” Antiques 117, no. 6 (June 1980): 1329, pl. 1, ill.

Scott T. Swank et al., Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1983), 182—83, fig. 134.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 123, ill.

Jeffrey L. Marshall and Bertha S. Davis, Wrightstown Township: A Tricentennial History (Wycombe, Pa.: Wrightstown Township Historical Commission, 1992), 38.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.