Madison Square

Madison Square
Savannah Under Fire archaeologists work in Madison Square, Savannah, GA, surrounded by visitors and citizens interested in our dig.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mystery ceramics

I have a mystery for the ceramic experts out there!

On several archaeology sites in downtown Savannah (within the bounds of the battlefield) I have a found a mysterious decoration on several ceramics. It appears to be hand painted purple. One shade of the purple is flat, the other is metallic/iridescent.

In the first example I found, the design appeared to be painted on whiteware. Unfortunately, this sherd has been sent into deep storage, and I don't have any pictures of it. The three sherds pictured below were found in the 1980s and labeled "lustrous manganese creamware" or "lustrous manganese pearlware". This decoration style has appeared on porcelain and white earthenware. The earthenware has yellow or blue tints to the glaze, or the glaze is completely white.

Can anyone identify this more specifically than "handpainted"?  Does anyone have a time frame or TPQ for this type of decoration?
Many thanks!

Sherd 1- refined earthenware. white glaze has a blue tint.

Sherd 1, showing metallic purple

back of Sherd 1

Sherd 2- refined earthenware. glaze is yellow-ish. Note there are two shades of purple present.

Sherd 3- porcelain. hand painted glaze is two shades of purple: the lighter, flat color and the darker, metallic color

Sherd 3 side view

Sherd 3


  1. Thanks to everyone who responded to my inquiry about the ceramics, especially Dr. Meta F. Janowitz and Dr. Patricia Samford.

    What we have here are "copper luster decorated sherds". This type of decoration was used on earthenwares and porcelains in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

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