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CONNECTICUT'S DEACON MEADE & ANTIQUE AMERICAN STONEWARE

POTTERS APPRENTICE

 PERHAPS THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO BEGIN A STUDY OF ANTIQUE AMERICAN STONEWARE THAN IN EARLY CONNECTICUT. THIS MAY BE CONTESTED BY MOST, AS NEW YORK AND BOSTON COME TO MIND AS EVEN EARLIER EVIDENCE OF STONEWARE PRODUCTION, BUT CONNECTICUT BORE SOME OF OUR GREATEST POTTERS AND FOR OUR PURPOSES HERE, SOME OF THE BEST STORIES. 


THIS STORY BEGINS WITH ABRAHAM MEAD, A VERY YOUNG POTTERS APPRENTICE OF ADAM STATES. STATES, OF DUTCH DECENT HAD WORKED IN SOUTH AMBOY, NEW JERSEY, PENNSYLVANIA AND RYE, NEW YORK,  BEFORE SETTLING IN GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT AROUND 1750. STATES' DESCENDANTS LATER POTTED THEIR WAY INTO LEGENDARY STATUS IN CONNECTICUT, HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN THE STONEWARE BUSINESS, BUT THAT'S ANOTHER STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY. WITH HIS CHILDREN STILL QUITE YOUNG, STATES WAS IN NEED OF AN APPRENTICE...ENTER YOUNG ABRAHAM MEADE.


MEADE WAS BORN IN GREENWICH IN 1742. THE THREE TIMES REMOVED DESCENDANTS OF YOUNG MEADE PASSED ALONG A STORY THAT WHILE STATES WAS AWAY ONE TIME, YOUNG MEADE TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF TO LOAD AND BURN THE KILN, FIRING A LOAD OF STONEWARE. STATES RETURNED TO FIND THE BOY TOSSING A BUCKET OF SALT INTO THE KILN AT THE END OF THE FIRING. STATES WAS TO HAVE SHOUTED "HES' GOT IT! HE'S GOT IT!". STATES DIED IN THE 1860'S, LEAVING THE YOUNG APPRENTICE WITHOUT A MASTER.

OUR THANKS TO OUR GOOD FRIENDS AT CROCKER FARM FOR IDENTIFYING THIS BEAUTIFUL 18TH CENTURY STONEWARE CROCK AS ABRAHAM MEADE'S WORK.

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PATRIOT AND DEACON AND LOVED

HOME FROM THE WAR

MEADE WAS SAID TO HAVE CONTINUED HIS DUTIES AFTER STATES' DEATH "WITHOUT INTERRUPTION" AND RESUMED THE PROCESS OF MAKING STONEWARE ON HIS OWN.

IN THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED MEADE FOLLOWED LIKE SO MANY OTHERS ONTO THE BATTLEFIELD IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THIS WAS A MATTER OF NECESSITY AND A PERIOD OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY, BUT AT THE END OF THE WAR, MEADE, EVER DEDICATED, RETURNED TO HIS KILN AND CONTINUED HIS DUTIES JUST WHERE HE HAD LEFT OFF.


MEADE WENT ON TO BECOME THE TOWN TREASURER AND WAS A EXALTED MEMBER OF THE  SECOND CONGRESSIONAL CHURCH IN GREENWICH. TOWNSPEOPLE WERE SAID TO ADORE HIM AND REFERRED TO HIM AS "DEACON POTTER MEADE", A POSITION IN THE CHURCH HE HELD FOR MANY YEARS.


MEADE'S FAMILY RETAINED SOME OF HIS WORK AND SOME WERE DONATED TO THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM FOR POSTERITY. ONE CROCK DATED 1791, GIVES CREDENCE TO MEADE'S WORKING UNTIL NEAR THE TURN OF THE 19TH CENTURY. MEADE DIED AT 85, EXTRAORDINARY FOR THE TIMES, IN 1827. MEADE'S STONEWARE IS REGARDED AS SOME OF THE EARLIEST DOCUMENTED STONEWARE IN AMERICA.


AMERICAN STONEWARE COLLECTORS IS PROUD TO PROVIDE THIS EXAMPLE OF MEADE'S WORK. THIS IS A SMALL, LESS THAN A GALLON SIZE, OPEN HANDLED CROCK WITH MEADE'S TRADEMARK COBALT DESIGN ON BOTH SIDES. THERE ARE INITIALS INCISED IN THE SIDE THAT WE SEE AS H. L..THIS SET OF INITIALS ALSO APPEARING ON ONE OF THE MUSEUM PIECES. THE FAMILY STATED THE THE INITIALS WERE FOR HANNAH LEWIS A LONG TIME FAMILY FRIEND OF MEADE. THERE WERE SEVERAL MADE WITH THESE INITIALS WHEN MEADE CLOSED THE POTTERY IN 1791. THIS CROCK IS THE OLDEST ATTRIBUTABLE STONEWARE EXAMPLE AMERICAN STONEWARE COLLECTORS HAS OWNED.