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Preservation Virginia > Jamestown Rediscovery > Research Resources > Jamestown Ceramics Research Group > Ceramic Types by Country > Ceramic Types by Country - Italy > North Italian Marbled Slipware

North Italian Marbled Slipware

North Italian Marbled Slipware

Fabric: Same as North Italian Sgraffito.

Glaze: Swirling bichrome or polychrome slips adorn marbled slipware. This decoration is on the exterior of costrels and jugs. Bowls and dishes are covered entirely on the interior and usually to just above the base on the exterior. Occasionally the slip, but not the glaze, covers the exterior base. Bichrome examples are decorated with a mix of white and red slips that are covered with a colorless lead glaze and appear ginger red and cream colored. Polychrome North Italian slips are a blend of white, red, and dark brown slips, which are either applied to a pure white slip ground or directly to the body. The different techniques may be indicative of chronology or perhaps different sources of manufacture. The colors are green-tinged cream, rust, and blackish brown under a lead glaze containing copper oxide.

Form: The ware was made in the forms of bowls, dishes, jugs, and costrels, although bowls are the most predominant form on Virginia sites. Bowls are small with a rounded rim or deep with a round, everted or vertical rim. Footrings are beveled and the concave bases display concentric potting circles as with the sgraffitoed wares. The standing costrels are made in narrow and wide forms. The latter are found in Virginia and consist of two pairs of bilateral lugs, sometimes in the shape of stylized lion heads, attached to opposite sides of an ovoid-shaped body. These are for looping cordage by which the costrel could be transported. The body is constricted above the foot, which has an upturned edge.

North Italian Marbled Slipware Note: An unusual handled bowl was recovered from a ca.1625 deposit at Jamestown. It is a wide form with a rounded everted rim. It is decorated with dabbed, rather than swirled, white and red slip. Copper oxide in the lead glaze gives it a green mottled and streaked appearance.


Pisa does not appear to be the only source of production for the marbelized slipwares as it does for the sgraffitoed wares. Many other centers in Northern Italy were probably also involved.While North Italian slipwares are widely distributed in Britain, they are not found in large quantities and are most heavily concentrated in London and coastal towns. The archival records show little evidence of Italian shipping in English ports during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Instead, Spain appears to be the intermediary in the distribution of Italian wares. North Italian slipwares occur on Virginia sites dating to the second and third quarters of the 17th century, which is a context coinciding with intense Dutch trade with the English colonies. This commerce is believed responsible for the presence of these Italian wares on Virginia sites.

Hurst, John G. et al. (1986) Pottery produced and traded in north-west Europe 1350-1650. Rotterdam Papers VI. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 30-33.

Jennings, Sarah (1981) Eighteen centuries of pottery from Norwich. East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 13. Norfolk Museums Service, pp. 94-95.

Jamestown Rediscovery: Ditch 1, ca.1625-1640
Jamestown NPS collection
River Creek (44YO67)
Jordan's Journey (44PG302)
Pettus Plantation (44JC33)
Flowerdew Hundred (44PG65), (44PG92)
Martin's Hundred, Site A
St. Mary's City; Chapel, Town Center
Hampton University (44HT55)
Hatch Site (44PG51)
Claremont Manor (44SY5)

Prepared by Merry Outlaw

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