Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thomas Chollar, local potter in the1840's

I've copied a portion of an email that Jack Troy sent me in November of last year...

"Have you read about the potters who lived and worked in the Homer area in the 1820s and 30s? Thomas Chollar worked "on Albany St at the northwest shore of the Tiooghnioga," according to William Ketchum, Jr. whose book, Potters and Potteries of New York State, 1650-1900 is one of my favorite reads. (Sadly, it's out of print and Amazon lists a used copy for $225!) Earthenware was made there around 1820, so there might be some good local clays. Maybe you've prospected some. If you can find some red clay, you can sometimes make a nice slip glaze with it combining it about 50-50 with wood ash. Always a treat to keep things local with our work."

This is the small town that I live near. I have stopped at the house where Chollar's pottery was a few times, trying to see if I could look for any remains of the old kiln site. Worth a try... Today I was greeted by an ederly gentleman that welcomed me and joined me in a look about the yard. After a few near misses with the ducks there, and I didn't even get that close to them...testy little buggers... I had checked around and found nothing of note, a bottle cap, early 1990's maybe, and then there it was. A shiney little piece of white poking up through the dirt. I didn't have a camera with me, but dug it up and as you can see, it's a piece of 1840's pottery from Chollar!! Not as nice as finding an almost whole one but nice little piece of local history in hand. The back hoe is showing up tomorrow.... I probably should tell the owner... ;-) He did say I could come back with a shovel anytime! I'm bringing him a real nice tumbler, as he drinks a lot of soda and lemonade.

This is an example of Thomas Chollar's water coolers he made back in the 1840's.

"Wonderful large bulbous four gallon pedestal ovoid cooler with attached handles, 16"H. decorated with a large incised floral design filled with cobalt. The handles are highly unusual with screw heads at the terminals highlighted in cobalt as is the spigot hole near the base The cooler is attributed to the Thomas D. Chollar, Cortland, New York, ca.1844. A identical piece in form and similar floral design marked Thomas D. Chollar/Cortland was sold at auction in 2004 for $25,000. Pedestal cooler were always turned in two separate pieces and jointed prior to the firing process."


  1. Very Cool! Very Interesting! Have fun with the dig, hope you find something spectacular - don't forget the camera:)

  2. Here's hopin' you stumble into buried jug or something next time you're looking.

  3. Wow that has to be exciting! Esp when its your passion!!