COLLECTION: Ceramics

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Water Cooler

1840-1850
Origin: America, Tennessee, Henderson County
Overall: 83.8 x 50.8cm (33 x 20in.)
Stoneware, salt-glazed
Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Fund and C. Thomas Hamlin III Fund
Acc. No. 2014.900.4
Large ovid salt-glazed stoneware water cooler with two lug handles and two strap handles, one on each side of the pot and alternating, placed on the top third of the vessel near the neck. The cooler constructed in three pieces, the base and second section were both thrown and identically shaped storage containers that were then placed mouth to mouth and luted together with an extra band of clay crimped around the exterior like the edge of a pie. The top section of the vessel was also thrown and shaped to encompass a long neck with a slightly rolled, everted rim. There are several seemingly random lines of incised decoration around the exterior of the pot and strong throwing rings visible. The water cooler weighs 41 pounds.
Label:Ceramic coolers stored water and sometimes other beverages, which were decanted with a wooden or metal spigot inserted at the base. This exceptionally large example was made in the 1840s at the Craven Pottery in West Tennessee’s Henderson County. Several generations of Cravens worked as potters. This branch, led by Thomas Craven II, moved from North Carolina to Henderson County in the late 1820s. This cooler is attributed to them because of the construction technique that is also its most defining decorative element: the center band of pinched clay joins two separately thrown vessels and provides extra stability at the juncture.

The cooler descended in the Moody family of Henderson County. Family history recounts that the vessel was used to supply water to the enslaved men and women who worked crops in the Moodys’ fields.
Provenance:Ex Coll.: David Thompson (Jackson, TN)
Purchased from: Robert R. Hunter Jr.