Jar made by David Drake, a slave artisan, 1862
The poem inscribed on this glazed stoneware reads "I made this jar all of cross / If you don't repent, you will be lost" and is signed "Dave." David Drake worked at the pottery operated by his owner, Lewis Miles, at Stoney Bluff Plantation in Edgefield, South Carolina, from the 1830s to the 1860s. He is the only slave potter known to sign and date his work, defiantly proclaiming his education in a state that outlawed literacy among slaves. In 1996 the Smithsonian purchased two of Dave's "poem jars," highly valued as artistic works and material evidence of the skills, beliefs, and daily lives of enslaved African Americans.
African American History, Ceramics