Border Ware is a very diverse group of coarse earthenware with a fine-grained paste in a range of colors: pale gray, yellow to pinkish buff or very pale brown. Lead glaze colors include yellow, apple green, olive green and brown. A variant with a light reddish paste, sometimes streaked with the white/gray clay, is known as Red Border ware. Generally Border ware vessels are glazed only on the interior surfaces.
The term Border Ware is used to describe earthenware produced along the border between Surrey and Hampshire, starting in the late 16th century and continuing to the beginning of the 18th century. Several production sites continued a long-standing tradition of potting in this region that grew out of the medieval Surrey whiteware (white pasted coarse earthenware) industry (Museum of London 2015). By the second half of the 17th century, Border Wares were finding their way in quantity to London and the south of England. They turn up on colonial sites in North America as well. In the Chesapeake, researchers have sometimes identified light gray-pasted, apple green-glazed Border Wares as "Surry ware" (Miller 1983), with these wares appearing on sites pre-dating 1650. Additional research shows that Border Wares are found on later dating sites as well. These sites include two in Calvert County, Maryland: Melon Field (18CV169) dating 1660 to 1685 and the King's Reach site (18CV83) dating to 1690 – 1715 (Pogue 1997).
During the first half of the 17th century (ca. 1600 – 1640), Border wares are found in the forms of flanged dishes, wide flanged bowls, deep bowls, drinking jugs, and porringers. Yellow and green glazes predominate, but olive green and brown glazes also occur. Red Border ware is found only in a skillet form during this time period (Pearce 1992:95-96).
By the middle of the 17th century (ca. 1640 – 1700), Border wares have become one of major everyday wares on London area sites, and the most common forms are tripod pipkins, flanged dishes, bowls, chamber pots, and porringers. New forms such as mugs, colanders, chafing dishes, bottle costrels, and upright candlesticks are also found. Red Border wares make up a slightly larger proportion of these later assemblages than in earlier ones, and are found in many of the same forms as Border ware. During this period, new styles of rims on pipkins and porringers appear to be influenced by ceramics in the Low Countries. Ribbing on the bodies of chamber pots, pipkins, and porringers gradually lessens, and plain forms are made. Pinched or "pie-crust" rims appear on some vessels for the first time (Pearce 1992:96-101). Red Border wares are found, as a minor ware, in association with the white Border wares in English archaeological assemblages from London and the Surrey-Hampshire area. There does not seem to be a time or context difference between the two wares (Pearce 1992). Although white-bodied Border Wares ceased production in the 18th century, red-bodied wares continued to be manufactured (museum of London 2015).
This ware is not as well defined for archaeological sites in the Chesapeake, and may sometimes be confused with Dutch coarse earthenware of the same time period. On sites dating towards the end of the 17th century, the yellow glazed Border wares may be confused with a similar ware known as Midlands Yellow. This pale buff to white pasted ware is usually glazed on both surfaces, while Border wares are generally only glazed on their interior surface. Because of their similarities, caution should be used when identifying these ware types.
The fabric is composed of a chalky, compact paste that measures 3.0 on the Moh's hardness scale. Pastes exhibit a range of colors: pale gray (Munsell 2.5Y9/0), yellow to pinkish buff (2.5Y 7/2; 5YR7/6, 8/4; 7.5YR7/2, 8/6, 9/3) or very pale brown (10YR 7/6, 8/2-8/4, 9/2-9/4). Lead glaze colors include yellow, apple green, olive green and brown. The red Border ware variant has a light reddish to pale brick-red paste (Munsell 2.5-7.5 YR 7-8/6-8, 7/10) ftn1, sometimes streaked with the white/gray clay. Generally Border ware vessels are glazed only on the interior surfaces.
Lead glaze in yellow or green is thinly applied, with inconsistent coloring. Clear lead glaze over buff-bodied vessels produces a yellow appearance to the glaze. The green glazes were created by the addition of powdered copper and manganese to a clear lead glaze. Sometimes dark brown or red spots are seen within or under the glaze, and are produced by iron-rich compounds. Sometimes a vessel would have the glaze applied to the interior surface, and when swirled around some spillage would occur over the vessel sides. Brown lead glaze appears with more frequency after 1650 to the end of the 17th century.
Infrequent incised geometric line decoration, pie crust rims, and raised cordons occur. Encrustation or rustication from bits of clay can be occasionally found on cups and mugs.
Flanged dishes, wide and deep bowls, drinking jugs, single handled tripod pipkins, pitchers, cups, mugs, tankards, bowls, porringers, colanders, and chamber pots are the most prevalent forms manufactured.
Bloch 2015; Miller 1983; Museum of London 2015; Noël Hume
Ftn1 These Munsell colors are taken from Pearce 1992, pages 5 and 6.
The 17th century Border
wares developed out of the Medieval Coarse Border Wares made
during the 15thand 16thcenturies along the borders of Surrey and Hampshire counties, southwest of London. The Surrey-Hampshire whitewares were the most common
Border wares, and were important to the London market during most
of the 17thcentury. From the mid-17thcentury into the early 18thcentury they were one of the main sources of good quality household pottery in London. Competition from the tin-glazed wares and the rising prominence of white salt-glazed wares from the Staffordshire potteries caused the Surrey-Hampshire whiteware industry to go into a decline (Pearce 1992:102).
This ware is not as well defined for archaeological sites in the Chesapeake, and may sometimes be confused with Dutch coarse earthenwares of the same time period. On sites dating towards the end of the 17thcentury, the yellow glazed Border wares may be confused with a similar ware known as Midlands Yellow. This pale buff to white pasted ware is usually glazed on both surfaces, while Border wares are generally only glazed on their interior surface. Because of their similarities, caution should be used when identifying these ware types.