To Dave or Not to Dave, Slave Dated Stoneware

Dave Drake. Dave the Slave. Dave.

In my opinion, there is no more valuable piece of collectable ceramic history than an authentic ‘Dave’.


The stories of Dave: who he was, what he did, what he was, why he was are mostly that; Stories. If you mix a little truth in with a lot of conjecture it comes across as more authoritative. Great for selling artifacts and books and web pages, like mixing a little kaolin in with ordinary mud to create ceramics. But, I guess I’m a Dave agnostic about much of it. I believe that he lived, and that he was a slave in Edgefield , and that he was involved in the pottery business in some manner, and that he wrote on the still wet clay vessels. Everything else is debatable–more like elaborate stories woven from only a few threads of fact. I take much of it with a grain of salt glazing.

There is one book I recommend that is more factual if you are interested in Dave. I had to look for it to find it hidden behind the other Dave fluff. It is Beneath his Magic Touch: The Dated Vessels of the African-American Slave Potter Dave by Arthur F. Goldberg and James Witkowski. It was published by Ceramics in America in 2006. These images below are from that publication. (I borrowed the images and will take them down if asked.)




Chipstone.Org Website

As you can see the authors listed the dates and markings of every Dave vessel in existence that they could verify. This is factual. This is so much like engraved stone tablets. This is real.