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Rockingham Ware in American Culture, 1830-1930
Reading Historical Artifacts
Jane Perkins Claney




UPNE
2004 • 216 pp. 64 illus. (14 color) 7 x 10"
Decorative Arts & Material Culture

$27.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-412-4



“Grand resource for grand USA pottery.”Antique and Collectible News Service

A groundbreaking case study that links social and cultural interpretation with descriptive classification and historical context.

Rockingham ware was an inexpensive brown-glazed ceramic that was ubiquitous in America from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth century. Popular as an antique today, it is regularly sold at venues ranging from flea markets to antique shows. Despite its prevalence in American life for nearly a century and its continued presence as a collector’s item, little has been written on this subject of vast interest to collectors, museum curators, historians, and archaeologists.

Jane Perkins Claney has written the first and only full-scale study of Rockingham ware to consider not just its history as a manufactured object but also its role in domestic life. Both an artifact study and a case study in material culture interpretation, this volume offers a totally comprehensive approach to the study of Rockingham ware and serves as a model for future studies of similar objects.

Following a chapter on her methods of identifying and interpreting historical evidence, Claney describes the physical characteristics of Rockingham ware and its production history. She places Rockingham ware within the context of nineteenth-century design and discusses its "Americanization" by U.S. manufacturers. Turning next to usage and meaning, Claney shows how certain Rockingham-ware vessels were used in the expression and maintenance of cultural identity and the enactment of social roles. Exploring gender and class ramifications, she demonstrates that although the ceramic was used at all social-class levels and in all types of communities from urban to rural, the choice of vessel forms and decoration differed markedly. Rockingham-ware teapots, for example, were favored by working-class women and rarely appeared in middle-class homes, while middle-class men living in cities formed the market for Rockingham-ware pitchers decorated with hunting scenes. Rockingham-ware spittoons, on the other hand were used universally—even by women. With the specific cultural roles of Rockingham-ware vessels so clearly understood, the vessels themselves become texts through which to interpret the past.

The book features fifty halftones, fourteen of which are presented also in color, and an extensive archaeological database.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

Claney does a service by writing about the value of using artifacts and documents interactively to get full use of both sources. This book is a terrific resource and a good example of data-driven resource.IA: Journal of the Society for Industrial Archaeology

“Claney generously guides the reader through the process of her evolving research over a period of approximately twenty years. Those who have been frustrated by the lack of reliable scholarship on these ubiquitous brown pots (and other nineteenth-century wares) and eage to learn about new ways to think about them, will find Claney's often-first-person approach immediately satisfying.”Decorative Arts

“Claney shows how historical archaeology is the only resource for discovering the existence of symbolic meaning in the use of workaday vessels such as large Rockingham ware bowls. Her study helps to visualize the material life of the past and 'fill in the outlines of recorded memory.'”Maine Antique Digest

Dr. Claney has devised a widely applicable method of interpretive, contextual material culture study. Moreover, she has demonstrated the power of the method in her exploration of Rockingham ware, an example of what Daniel Miller called the ‘consumption trivia’ of the Industrial Revolution, and James Deetz regarded as the ‘small things forgotten’ that accumulate to make a lifetime. Her masterful study is firmly grounded in the literature of historical archaeology, material culture study, and American cultural history, and represents a cross-disciplinary breadth that many scholars fail to achieve. The result is a study that smoothly and elegantly leads the reader through a massive compilation of material, archaeological, documentary, and graphic evidence to an understanding of the objects, the society that produced them, and the cultural contexts in which they carried meaning. A model of comparative, synthetic, object-based research, this study demonstrates the interpretive value of archaeological collections of fragmented objects housed in repositories around the world. It represents a compelling argument for the preservation, curation, and conservation of our material culture heritage.Lu Ann De Cunzo, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware

Awards/Recognition:

Winner of the Society for Historical Archaeology James Deetz Award (2006)


JANE PERKINS CLANEY has more than twenty years experience analyzing, researching, writing about, and lecturing on artifacts, focusing especially on historical ceramics. She holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.



Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:15:00 -0500