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Agate and Agateware


Lawrence H. Conklin


I have long admired that particular type of pottery that was made, for the most part, in Staffordshire, England in the eighteenth century and that is known as “agateware.”

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Figure 1.  A snuffbox of agate, Scotland, circa 1750.
Width: 3-1/8, depth: 2-1/4 and height: 2 inches.

For certain, it was the name that initially attracted me. Many examples of it came to my attention over the years and I liked what I saw even though they did not look like any agate that I had ever seen. In my lifetime most agates in the marketplace, in museums and private collections came from Brazil and Mexico and were of the banded type.

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Figure 1a. The Scottish agate snuffbox in the open position.

Recently, I added to my private collection an eighteenth century, Scottish snuffbox made of agate and the confusion finally ended. However, today we would probably designate the rough material as a jasper-agate due to its complete lack of translucency. (See figures 1 and 1a.)

Pictured also are two specimens of (solid) agateware, a “slopbowl,” used in the service of tea and a child’s mug. (See figures 2 and 3.)

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Figure 2. A solid-agateware slopbowl about 5 inches in diameter.
Staffordshire, England, circa 1740.

Anyone viewing these items and comparing them to the agate snuffbox can see the connection made by the Staffordshire potters. Eighteenth century agate, especially that from Great Britain was, and still is, quite different from that of the modern world.

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Figure 3. A solid-agateware child’s mug about 2 1/2 inches in height.
Staffordshire, England, circa 1750.


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Lawrence H. Conklin
Wallingford, CT 06492

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