The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region by H. E. Comstock (review)

The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region by H. E. Comstock (The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, distributed by the University of North Carolina Press, 1994)

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The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region by H. E. Comstock (review)

by Charles G. Zug III
Southern Cultures, Vol. 3, No. 1: Spring 1997

The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, distributed by the University of North Carolina Press, 1994

Long ignored for their primitive methods, relative isolation, and utilitarian output, southern potters have staged a remarkable comeback over the last two decades. The living tradition continues in numerous small, family-run shops across the Southeast, most notably in North Carolina and Georgia. Only half a century ago, potters were pleased if they could sell off a kilnful of jars, jugs, churns, and pitchers for ten cents a gallon. Today, these sturdy forms and rich flowing glazes have entered the art world. Works by some nineteenth-century “masters” command prices ranging well into five figures, and there is a powerful demand for contemporary wares as well. The quest for pots — both old and new— has helped spur demand for information. Twenty-five years ago there was litde in print on southern pottery (and much ofthat was out of date or simply inaccurate). Now, aficionados can consult numerous articles, exhibition catalogues, and half a dozen very substantial books.