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Preservation Virginia > Jamestown Rediscovery > Research Resources > Jamestown Ceramics Research Group > Ceramic Types by Country > Ceramic Types by Country - Germany > Westerwald Stoneware

Westerwald Stoneware

Westerwald Stoneware

Fabric: Stoneware fabric, which can vary slightly in color from white to gray.

Glaze: Salt-glazed. The vessels typically have cobalt blue decoration, and after about 1665, sometimes have manganese purple (Noel Hume 1991:281). Examples without applied color, "monochrome stonewares," are sometimes found. Made in Siegburg, Raeren, and later Hohr at the end of the 16th century, the monochrome style reappeared in the Westerwald about 1675 and continued into the 18th century (Gaimster 1997a: 179).

Form: In 17th-century Virginia, the most common form is the jug, with most of the surface covered by relief molding, stamps, and sometimes carving. Occasionally found are jugs with narrow mouths, stamped decoration, and one to three relief-molded medallions on an otherwise undecorated body. Smaller drinking jugs, or rounded mugs, are found, but cylindrical mugs are rare before the later 17th century. Chamber pots with 1630s dates exist (Hurst et al. 1986:224), but the form is not known in Virginia before 1650 and remains rare until the 18th century, when they become extremely common.


The cobalt blue decoration characteristic of Westerwald, and adopted onto American stoneware, actually originated in modern Belgium, at Raeren. In the late 16th century, Raeren potters moved to the Westerwald, in some cases even taking Raeren molds, and in the first half of the 17th century, Raeren and Westerwald products are "virtually identical" (Noel Hume 1991:280; Gaimster 1997a:251). Hurst et al. recommend calling all blue decorated examples "Westerwald," or if they are known to be Raeren, "Westerwald-type," using the Raeren name only for brown vessels (1986:221).

Westerwald is frequently found in the colonial Chesapeake, although not on all sites. In early 17th-century Virginia, the most common form is the biconic, a simplified variation of the baluster jug which was first produced at Raeren in the 1570s (Gaimster 1997a:225). Baluster jugs are found in relatively small numbers, and the form appears to fade in the 1620s, although one Virginia example is as late as the 1660s (Markell 1990:72). Biconics were popular in Virginia into the 1630s but the basic style, with carved vertical gadrooning on the lower section, essentially disappears in the 1640s.

By 1625, Westerwald was experimenting with less-intricate decoration (Reineking-von Bock 1986:324). The major difference between the new types and the baluster/biconics was the return to a simplified, rounded form, without ridged cordons and carved vertical gadrooning on the lower section of the vessel. These transitional pieces continued to use the stamped, applied, and carved ornamentation typically found on baluster-style jugs, but now stretched to the base cordon.

In Virginia, the most commonly found style growing out of this transition used the simplified rounded shape dotted with individually applied ornaments of relief molding. This molding generally consists of rosettes or prunts, and numerous variations exist, including stamped devices, but the general type is a rounded body dotted with small decorations. This style had emerged by the 1630s and was extremely popular through the middle of the century, with some examples being made as late as 1694 (Reineking-von Bock 1986:348).

By about 1675, the "rosettes" were sometimes arranged like flower bouquets with "stems" of three or four incised parallel lines leading to a common point. This style continues into the early 18th century, when the decorative molding is generally reduced to a single medallion and all other decoration is incised.

In addition to the highly-decorated types, a more conservative style of Westerwald is occasionally found in the 17th-century Chesapeake (de Bodt 1991:70, #113; Gaimster 1997a:262). In form, these vessels usually have narrow mouths and a squat, rounded shape closely related to that of 16th-century Bartmann jugs. At least one Virginia example has a base cordon and a rounded foot, like the more elaborate Westerwald jugs.

Like the Bartmanner, the main decorations are large relief-molded medallions placed on the front and sometimes also on the sides. At least one Virginia example has the arms of Amsterdam. The central medallion often has separately applied lion supporters, and the vessel can be additionally decorated with floral stamps. The use of cobalt blue is generally confined to the molding and the cordons.

This type of jug appears to have a strong connection to chamber pots. The same style of decoration, with medallions and lion supporters, appears on a chamber pot dated 1632 and continues on that form, largely unchanged, to the mid-18th century (Hurst et al. 1986:183, 224-225).

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Chancellor's Point, Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland
Bennett Farm 44YO68, Virginia
Chesopean 44VB48, Virginia
Flowerdew Sites: 44PG82; 44PG92
Gloucester 44GL407, Virginia
Hampton 44HT44, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia
Jordan's Point Sites:
  • Jordan's Journey (44PG300)
  • Jordan's Journey Jordan/Ferrar (44PG302)
  • Jordan's Journey (44PG307)
Kingsmill Tenement, 44JC39, Virginia
Mathews Manor, Virginia
Richneck, Virginia

Prepared by Taft Kiser

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