Bill and Florence Griffin Collection, Provenance – Brunk 5-30-09

Collection of Florence P. and William W. Griffin

Bill and Florence Griffin met at an Atlanta Bird Club meeting in 1945. Bill was a published amateur ornithologist; Florence was interested in all of nature – she knew the names of all the plants as well as the birds.

Both were from Georgia, and soon began to see their state changing before their eyes as the New South swept away the Old. They quickly became [...] Click here to continue reading.

The Moravians


In the late 14th century, Jan Hus, a Roman Catholic priest in Prague who had been heavily influenced by reformer John Wycliffe, began to attract followers as he spoke out about indulgences (a key practice Martin Luther would attack again in 1517) and his belief that church members should be able, permitted, and encouraged to study the Bible themselves. Hus’s continual agitation would put him at odds with the Catholic Church and in [...] Click here to continue reading.

Zoar, Ohio – Society of Separatists


In the 1810s, a group of German religious separatists left Wurttemberg in what is now southwestern Germany, after several decades of separation from the primary church in the region, the Lutheran Church. After years of persecution and oppression which included imprisonment and property seizures, the separatists, under the leadership of Joseph Bimeler (sometimes Baumeler), decided to flee to the United States in the hopes that they could establish a new community there.

One [...] Click here to continue reading.

Gemel Pottery Jug or Bottle


The pottery form known as a gemel, also gemel jug or gemel bottle, is one of the rarest forms in American stoneware. The word is derived from the Latin word “geminus,” meaning twin, double, paired, or half-and-half. The plural of this same word, “gemini,” is used to refer to the constellation composed of twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, of Greek mythology. The words “twin” or “double” definitely come to mind when one thinks [...] Click here to continue reading.

Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.

Sewer Tile – Definition

Sewer Tile

Since the dawn of time, as long as there have been people, there has been…sewage. And for almost as long, we’ve apparently been concerned with it. There is concrete (or clay, at least) evidence of this dating back as far as 4000 B.C.E. Babylon, known for many things – gardens, law, sin…., was also known as the birthplace of pipe, pipe that was formed of clay and baked.

Nearly six thousand years [...] Click here to continue reading.

Clarice Cliff Pottery

Clarice Cliff (1899-1972)

Colorful & Quirky Ceramics

The Newport Pottery Bizarre Girls created bold Art Deco ware. Clarice Cliff’s hugely popular Art Deco era pottery features simple, streamlined forms decorated in brilliant colors and eye-catching patterns.

Clarice Cliff, one of eight children in a pottery making family grew up in the heart of Staffordshire pottery country in England. By the age of 17 she was working as a decorator at Wilkinson’s Royal Pottery where [...] Click here to continue reading.

Lithophanes – Definition


Lithophane comes from two Greek words: lithos, meaning stone and phainein, which has a more shaded meaning that is close to making something appear quickly. The term refers to an image or scene that is etched or molded into very thin porcelain, so that the intaglio image “pops” when light is placed behind the porcelain. (Because of their windowpane-like appearance, they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as “lithopanes.”) This makes lithophanes three-dimensional, unlike [...] Click here to continue reading.

Chief Sitting Bull – Sioux – Tatanka-Iyotanka

Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief (circa 1831 to 1890)

Sitting Bull, the man who would later become the Hunkpapa Sioux chief, was born in South Dakota, near the Grand River. His Lakota name was Tatanka-Iyotanka. In his thirties, he began to build his reputation as a warrior, leading war parties in Red Cloud’s War against a number of Dakota Territory forts. Although the U.S. negotiated with the Sioux in order to end the war and [...] Click here to continue reading.

Hires Root Beer, Googly Eyed Man

Hires Root Beer

While traveling in 1875, Charles E. Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist, first tasted root beer. Root beer, traditionally made with sassafras, was a popular “small beer” or low-alcoholic drink in the colonial era, and was becoming popular in an alcohol-free format. While root beer has a long history, it has a wide range of recipes that call for everything from birch bark to vanilla, molasses to juniper berries, so Hires set out [...] Click here to continue reading.

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