Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave Community Reviews - Find out where to download Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave available in multiple formats:Hardcover Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave Author:Leonard Todd Formats:Hardcover Publication Date:Oct 17, 2008


The compelling story of a slave, owned by the
author's ancestors, who became one of the singular artists of the
nineteenth century.

He is known today, as he was then,
only as Dave. His pots and storage jars were everyday items, but
because of their beauty and massive size, and because Dave signed and
inscribed many with poems, they now fetch six figures at auction. We
know of no other slave artist who dared to put his name on his work, a
dangerous advertisement of literacy.
Fascinated by the man
and by this troubling family history, Leonard Todd moved from Manhattan
to Edgefield, South Carolina, where his ancestors had established a
thriving pottery industry in the early 1800s. Todd studied each of
Dave's poems for biographical clues, which he pieced together with local
records and family letters to create this moving and dramatic chronicle
of Dave's life―a story of creative triumph in the midst of slavery.
Many of Dave's astounding jars are found now in America's finest
museums.
8 pages of color; 31 black & white

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.17

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Reviews for Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave:

4

Feb 04, 2010

I absolutely loved this book. Even if you don't love antiques or pottery, this book gives you an incredible look at one man's live as a slave in South Carolina. Dave was owned by the author's ancestors. He did exhaustive research into Dave's life in Edgefield, SC. Todd's ancestors had built a thriving pottery industry and Dave was their best potter. Dave not only dared to put his name on the pots, but inscribed them with poems as well. Dave's pots are now worth hundreds of thousands and are in I absolutely loved this book. Even if you don't love antiques or pottery, this book gives you an incredible look at one man's live as a slave in South Carolina. Dave was owned by the author's ancestors. He did exhaustive research into Dave's life in Edgefield, SC. Todd's ancestors had built a thriving pottery industry and Dave was their best potter. Dave not only dared to put his name on the pots, but inscribed them with poems as well. Dave's pots are now worth hundreds of thousands and are in some of the finest museums in the country. ...more
4

Nov 10, 2019

As a ceramic artist with ties to South Carolina, I really enjoyed this book and the ceramic history it offers. Research on the Slave Potter named Dave is slim, and this author does a nice job of explaining what is fact versus what is speculation regarding Dave and the communities he worked and lived in. I came away from this book with a better understanding of the South’s ceramic history, and the particular role that the Edgefield Pottery District played. This book also offers great perspective As a ceramic artist with ties to South Carolina, I really enjoyed this book and the ceramic history it offers. Research on the Slave Potter named Dave is slim, and this author does a nice job of explaining what is fact versus what is speculation regarding Dave and the communities he worked and lived in. I came away from this book with a better understanding of the South’s ceramic history, and the particular role that the Edgefield Pottery District played. This book also offers great perspective on Civil War history. I’m not sure I would recommend this book to general readers, but for those with an interest in ceramic and Civil War history, it’s perfect. ...more
4

Jun 15, 2017

A little dry but an amazingly detailed examination of what was to be discovered about David Drake, his owners and the world of Edgefield. In addition the author describes so much history of the period.
0

Feb 19, 2010

Perhaps you know of Dave from having seen one of his remarkable, inscribed pots from the Civil War era discussed and appraised on The Antiques Roadshow. This book provides the closest thing to a coherent narrative of Dave’s life we are ever likely to have. The moving parts of the book come in shards—or sherds, to use the variant the author employs throughout this book. Like the literal sherds of the “great and noble”storage jars Dave made, they are definitely worth finding. Author Todd’s Perhaps you know of Dave from having seen one of his remarkable, inscribed pots from the Civil War era discussed and appraised on The Antiques Roadshow. This book provides the closest thing to a coherent narrative of Dave’s life we are ever likely to have. The moving parts of the book come in shards—or sherds, to use the variant the author employs throughout this book. Like the literal sherds of the “great and noble”storage jars Dave made, they are definitely worth finding. Author Todd’s ancestors owned the potteries where Dave worked as a slave and then a freedman, and Todd uses family documents to reconstruct or, sometimes, just to imagine the life story of the renowned maker of four foot high jars. Except during years when the anti-literacy laws were most harshly enforced against slaves, Dave dared to inscribe his storage jars with his name and, sometimes, with cryptic poems powerful enough to move us 150 years later. If Todd is correct, Dave had wife and children sold away from him at least twice. Yet, one of Dave’s jars bears this inscription: “I wonder where is all my relation/ Friendship to all—and, every nation.” (Mary H., Reader's Services) ...more
3

Feb 11, 2016

The story of the life of "Dave the Slave," later known as Dave Drake, a potter who worked principally just before the civil war in South Carolina, written by the descendant of one of his owners. Dave is the slave potter who was known for writing verses on his pots, in the time when it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write. The author collects the known facts about Dave as well as a general history of this area of the country, near Edgefield District and Hamburg District, South The story of the life of "Dave the Slave," later known as Dave Drake, a potter who worked principally just before the civil war in South Carolina, written by the descendant of one of his owners. Dave is the slave potter who was known for writing verses on his pots, in the time when it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write. The author collects the known facts about Dave as well as a general history of this area of the country, near Edgefield District and Hamburg District, South Carolina, and Aiken County (a short distance from Augusta, Georgia), from about 1800 through the civil war period and shortly afterwards, including reconstruction times.
A good book though as a history book it is a little bit dry compared to what I have been reading. ...more
5

Apr 21, 2009

Marvelous....Leonard Todd did an excellent job with the research. I have read as many accounts on Dave as I have been able to locate, and this is, by far, the best. If you are interested in pottery, and especially the potters of the Edgefield, SC district, this is the book for you, a must read. The book also includes lots of interesting info about South Carolina during slavery and the during Civil War.
3

Dec 18, 2008

The author is careful not to overdramaticize Dave's life, but carefully extrapolates from skimpy evidence. His life was full of events, emotions, friends, family,and accomplishments, but a biographer has to tease out the details from a mention in a bill of sale here or a quote in a diary there. It reminded me of the "Love Letters" play, where the audience gasps out loud as the actors merely read a few lines of a letter that moves the plot forward. A great story, wonderfully underplayed.
3

Jan 15, 2009

While this book was interesting, it was much too speculative for my tastes. The text was littered with "possibly" and "perhaps," to the point that I started wondering what in the book was actually known. The information about ceramics and Dave's inscriptions was great. Probably not enough genealogical information exists to fully flesh out Dave's life, so the personal side of the story felt a bit hollow.
4

Feb 11, 2009

I'm really sad that I didn't finish this book and will probably pick it up again. I read over half. I really enjoyed it. Made me want to dig out my pottery tools and get busy. Not only that but I found it fascinating how brave this man Dave was to write on his pottery when it could have gotten him in some serious trouble as it was illegal for slaves to write. Makes you want to do some family history too.
4

Jul 04, 2009

Interesting account of one man's search for information, encompassing the history of slavery in the US, SC history, personal information about families and slavery, particularly in SC, and, of course, lots of information about pottery--how it's made from beginning to end, and more! Oh, yeah, and some Civil War history as well.
5

Dec 15, 2010

Amazing! Thanks to Leonard Todd for bringing this man to light.
4

Jan 17, 2009

Great South Carolina history. Nice pictures of some of Dave's works. Impressively researched and documented. Even better if you're from South Carolina AND love pottery.
5

Jul 22, 2009

Very interesting book about Potter Dave. I learned a lot about my Miles family heritage from Edgefield,Sc in this book. Autho is a distant relaive of mine on the Miles side.
3

Dec 16, 2008

A good reference book for pottery collectors, folk historians and anyone interested in Dave's amazing works.
5

Jul 12, 2015

Great book, a very interesting and in depth look at the life of a slave who was an artisan and left a lasting legacy and mystery with his pots.

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