Thomas W. Commeraw


Commeraw's Stoneware JugThomas Commeraw, the well-known New York stoneware potter of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was not--as previously thought--simply another potter of European descent working beside the venerated Crolius and Remmey families. Instead, as was incredibly lost to history until now, Commeraw was a free African American; his surviving body of work represents the largest known by a free black potter before the abolition of slavery in the United States.

My name is Brandt Zipp and I have been working on this project for many years. Thomas Commeraw lived a remarkable life, one that even transcended his status as a prominent black businessman and artist at a time when being one was rare. (For some of the information on Commeraw I have shared thus far, you can read Eve Kahn's article in the Arts section of The NY Times.) Lost not only to the history of American ceramics, Commeraw's story demands to be restored to that of our nation in general. It is my hope to do so. As I near the completion of my book on Commeraw's life, I am asking for your help.

This website is growing, but its initial purpose is two-fold: To keep in contact with those interested in my project, and provide a forum for those who want their relevant stoneware photographed and included in my book. While I do have a significant amount of Commeraw's work photographed, I would like to acquire as many visual documents of his pottery as possible. In many cases I can travel to you, other times I may ask for photos to be mailed or emailed to me. Attendees of my company, Crocker Farm's, regular pottery auctions in Sparks, Maryland, can also have their pieces photographed there. Complete and total anonymity and discretion are, of course, assured. If you would like to be a part of this project, please contact me.

I truly believe that this story is one of the most important of American ceramics to ever be told, and look forward to sharing it with you. Thank you for your interest!   ~  Brandt Zipp