(Catawba Valley, Lincoln County, NC, circa 1840) olive green alkaline glaze over very large rounded ovoid form, green glassy runs down sides of jug from thick ridged curved strap handles, large spout with three ringed neck and tooled rim, "J.CM" and "10" stamp at shoulder, 21 in. tall, 54 in. circumference, weighs 32.5 lbs.
Provenance: Private Collection, by descent in at least three generations of a Martin Family in Cleveland County, North Carolina
Note: There is a mystery surrounding Catawba Valley pottery with the "J.CM" stamp. No one is exactly sure who the maker of these pieces was. In the past, speculation was that this mark identified Jeremiah C. Martin as the maker of these wares. Very little is known about him except that he was listed as a potter in the 1850 Yancey County, NC census with three other family members, and was born in South Carolina. The only info on him after the 1850 census is that two of his family members are found in the Hawkins Co. Tennessee 1870 census with no mention of him. Is it possible he was in the Catawba Valley turning wares prior to living in the mountains? Who brought the alkaline glaze tradition to the Catawba Valley from SC? More recently there has been a find with associated research suggesting that the maker of "J.CM" stamped wares is possibly Daniel Seagle, one of the most important potters active in the Catawba Valley from the 1820s to 1850s. He had several apprentices and a son that all threw alkaline glazed stoneware in a similar style of the Catawba Valley tradition for that period and are referred to as the "Seagle school" of potters. Pieces stamped "J.CM" are in that same style and aesthetically very similar to pieces stamped with Seagle's mark, "DS". It has been proposed that Daniel Seagle may have made pots stamped "J.CM" for Johann Conrad Michal or his son John Michal who were members of a prominent local family in the Lincoln County area. A Jar with the inscription "The day after the election 1837" and a stamped "JCM" was sold in June of 2013 at the Southern Folk Potters Collectors Society. Research into the meaning of the inscription shed light on information that John Michal was elected to the Clerk of Superior Court in Lincoln County, NC, in an off year election in 1837. It was also discovered that the father and son also seemed to have owned interests in mercantile businesses in the area and it is speculated that Seagle possibly produced these wares with a merchants mark "J.CM" instead of a makers mark, "DS". Interactions between the Seagle and Michal families are historically documented and trace the ties between these families back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The mystery of the "J.CM" stamp is not completely resolved but the more recent find of the scripted and dated "J.CM" pot and the research that followed certainly offers up a valid explanation regarding the mystery of the stamp and possible maker. The jug we offer here is likely one off the best surviving examples of a large form Catawba Valley two handled jug from the 1840s in very good condition.
glaze voids and anomalies as made, some tiny surface abrasions and miniscule fritz in glaze consistent with age and use, some miniscule speckles of white paint, a few chips to base edge, very old shallow clay body chip on base with associated 4-1/2 in. hairline on side of lower body with another 1/2 in. hairline, firing lines around base as made, very good condition overall
Private Collection, by descent in at least three generations of a Martin Family in Cleveland County, North Carolina