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Thomas Ritchie Pottery: Catawba County NC Jar, Signed TR 2

Thomas Ritchie (1825-1909) crafted this jug with his signature “T R” stamp and a distinctive high-fired ash glaze. The jug features a tall neck with three deep score lines beneath a bold collar that extends to the spout. Its loop handle adds movement with its high, ribbon-like design. These characteristics are reminiscent of early American stoneware pieces.

Thomas Ritchie, born in Lincoln County, NC, and later settled in Catawba County around 1860. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Moses Ritchie, as a full-time potter. Ritchie’s pottery continued to be produced until approximately 1900. He was part of a family tradition in pottery making, with his brother Henry, son Marcus, son Luther Seth, nephew Kell, and nephew Jule all contributing to the Catawba Valley pottery legacy.

Examples of Thomas Ritchie’s work are featured in various publications, including “Two Centuries of Potters: A Catawba Valley Tradition” by the Lincoln County Historical Association (pages 34 and 35), “Index of Southern Potters” by Howard Smith (page 224), and “North Carolina Pottery: The Collection of the Mint Museums” edited by Barbara Stone Perry (page 173).

Ritchie’s pieces are highly sought after in Catawba County, North Carolina, and beyond. When assessing southern pottery for purchase, several factors are considered. While condition is crucial, some wear and tear are acceptable given the functional nature of these vessels. However, pieces in excellent, “like new” condition command higher value. Age also plays a significant role, as we primarily seek out antique pottery, typically over 100 years old. Additionally, knowing the provenance, or ownership history, adds value, particularly in cases where authenticity is in question.

Thomas Ritchie Pottery Jar, Signed TR 2, Catawba County NC
Thomas Ritchie Pottery Jar, Signed TR 2, Catawba County NC