Jackfield ware teapot handle fragment with measurement scale.This Jackfield ware teapot handle is typical of the gnarled, tree-branch-shaped handles and spouts, called crabstick, that are found on some eighteenth-century Staffordshire tea and coffee wares (Nöel-Hume 1969: Figure 1.29).

Kathleen Cande (Arkansas Archaeological Survey)
Artifact of the Month - July 2018

This handle from a Jackfield ware teapot was found in Feature 1 at Jacob Garrett’s tavern in Davidsonville Historic State Park. From 2004 through 2009 the Arkansas Archeological Survey conducted excavations at this early nineteenth century county seat town in Randolph County, Arkansas (Cande 2008). Now protected as a state park, Davidsonville was the first county seat town in Arkansas. It was platted in 1815–1816, and served as the Lawrence County seat of justice until 1829.
This photograph shows what the whole Davidsonville Jackfield teapot might have looked like (Shrewsbury, England Museum Services Image sy1714). Part of a lid and a finial were also found.
This photograph shows what the whole Davidsonville Jackfield teapot might have looked like (Shrewsbury, England Museum Services Image sy1714). Part of a lid and a finial were also found.
No buildings have survived at Davidsonville, and little was known about the layout of the town. Archeology is a way to discover facts about whatever is left behind under the ground — foundations and other building remains can reveal their exact locations, the materials used, and how people lived and worked in them.
Population in the town fluctuated depending on when court was in session. A number of taverns and boarding houses in private residences were available for visitors coming to Davidsonville for court. Jacob Garrett’s tavern was one such place. County records show that in 1819 he was licensed to “keep a public house of entertainment” in Lot 35, just across the street from the courthouse (Dollar 1979:27–31; Lawrence County Deed Record Book B).
In 2004 and 2005 we excavated a large feature that would have been beneath or just outside the residence. It was either a cellar, or perhaps a trash pit. The feature and surrounding midden deposits contained 76 whole or reconstructable ceramic vessels, fragments of redware pitchers and food-storage pots, bone-handled cutlery, candlesticks, glass bottles, beads, buttons, and coins. All of these items were either brought to Davidsonville by settlers or were purchased from area merchants. All of the ceramic dishes and fragments were made in England.
According to historical archeologist Ivor Nöel-Hume (1969:123), Jackfield ware was manufactured in quantity from about 1745 to 1790 in England. As he describes it, “the body is usually fired to purple or gray and is coated with a deep-black glaze.” The Davidsonville Jackfield ware was probably produced by Thomas Whieldon, since his Jackfield ware had a red body. Both Whieldon and the Jackfield Pottery in Shropshire, England produced tea wares and pitchers.
We know that five Frenchmen owned the land that became the town of Davidsonville in the early 1800s. It is possible that one of them, or another settler, owned the teapot and brought it to Davidsonville. There is no other evidence of Euroamerican settlers at Davidsonville during the late eighteenth century when the teapot was manufactured. With its shiny black exterior and bright brick red paste, it is a very striking type of vessel among all of the other white-bodied ceramics from Davidsonville.


Cande, Kathleen H.
2008    Rediscovering Davidsonville, Arkansas’s First County Seat Town, 1815–1830. Arkansas Historical Quarterly 67(4):342–358.
Dollar, Clyde
1979    An Archeological Assessment of Historic Davidsonville, Arkansas. Research Report No. 17. Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville.
Lawrence County Clerk’s Office
1818–1836      Lawrence County Deed Record Book B. On file, Lawrence County, Arkansas Courthouse, Walnut Ridge.
Nöel-Hume, Ivor
1969    A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Artifact of the Month Series

A first principle of archeology is that the significance of artifacts depends upon documented information about the context of their discovery. At what site was the artifact found? Can we figure out the age of the artifact? Where was it found in relation to site features (houses, trash deposits, activity areas, etc.) and the distribution of other artifacts? Only with knowledge of those facts can we assess further information about the manufacture and use of artifacts, and their role in other spheres of activity such as social organization, trade and exchange, and religious practice.
In this series, we feature select artifacts that are extraordinary both for the context of their discovery and for their unique qualities that contribute exceptionally important information about Arkansas culture and history. New artifacts will be added monthly throughout 2018. Find the list of artifacts here.