Crazy Crow Trading Post
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  • ENGRAVING HISTORIC FIREARMS - FINEST EVER!
    ENGRAVING HISTORIC FIREARMS - FINEST EVER! By far the finest book on hand engraving of firearms & other items. The result of painstaking research, practical knowledge & almost 50 years of experience, it is the standard reference for engravers & collectors alike.
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  • CATALOG 30 FOR 2013 - 140 Full Color Pages
    2014 CATALOG 31- 154 Color Pages Mailing week of March 5, 2014!! Be sure to get yours for the largest selection of Native American Indian, rendezvous & mountain man, & reenactor craft supplies & crafts to be found anywhere.
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  • Trapper's Fringed Buckskin Shirt Pattern - Missouri River Patterns
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  • Flintlocks: A Practical Guide - by Eric A. Bye
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  • 19th Century Powder Horns - KEEP IT DRY!
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  • Bison Leather Bags - American Bison Leather
    Bison Leather Bags - American Bison Leather These quality bags are made with soft & supple, custom tanned American Bison leather. Very fine quality & extremely durable. Color and character in grain & texture make each bag slightly different.
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  • MOCCASINS & FOOTWEAR - Introducing New Styles
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  • Knifemaking Supply - Everything You Need!
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  • Deluxe Kentucky Rifle Cases - 60 or 80 Inches
    Deluxe Kentucky Rifle Cases - 60 or 80 Inches The finest soft cases available today, offering super protection for your fine rifles, and the price is unbeatable due to a special arrangement with an auto manufacture who is producing them using his surplus.
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  • Frontier & Mountain Man Knives - Authentic & Hand Made
    Frontier & Mountain Man Knives - Authentic & Hand Made We have spent years researching & manufacturing the finest line of Throwing Knives, Bowies, Daggers, Scalper, Skinner & other knives used by the American mountain man available today.
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  • American Bladesmith Series - Hand Forged
    American Bladesmith Series - Hand Forged Plain and simple: These knives just feel good in the hand. Their graceful blades are hand-forged from 1905 high-carbon steel and fire-etched for a poor-man's Damascus look. Heavy leather sheath included.
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  • Tomahawks, Pipe-Axes & Smoking Hawks - For Camp or Throwing
    Tomahawks, Pipe-Axes & Smoking Hawks - For Camp or Throwing Years of research & manufacture have resulte in the finest line of throwing tomahawks, belt & camp axes available. Hickory & Ash handles, books & DVDs on tomahawk & knife throwing.
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  • VIDEO BEADWORK SERIES - How to Bead- 5 Vols
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  • Tradecloth Dress Pattern - Missouri River Patterns
    Tradecloth Dress Pattern - Missouri River Patterns Produces a fine quality dress from wool tradecloth or broadcloth, which can be left plain or decorated. Authentically styled variations for Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Blackfoot, Comanche, Kiowa & Kiowa-Apache.
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  • LONGHUNTER DVD SERIES - Living History
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  • Make Moccasins That Fit! - Moccasin Making DVD
    Make Moccasins That Fit! - Moccasin Making DVD Video presentation by Frank White is the perfect companion for the Craft Manual of North American Indian Footwear, on which it was based. The complete, step-by-step instruction in close-up detail.!
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  • WOOL PULLOVER FROCK - Longhunter Style
    WOOL PULLOVER FROCK - Longhunter Style Patterned after an original documented in The Frontier Rifleman, this pullover frock is authentically styled and suitable for the Longhunter, as well as for wear at Rendezvous.
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  • Spanish Brown Oil Cloth - Crazy Crow Exclusive
    Spanish Brown Oil Cloth - Crazy Crow Exclusive Reproduction Oil Cloth, made for 1700s to early 1800s reenactors, is 60 inches wide, 100% cotton canvas, water resistant & mildew retardant, plus the 10 oz weight lends itself to hand or machine stitching.
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  • Felt Hat Blanks - Regular Wool
    Felt Hat Blanks - Regular Wool Make your own unique trapper, tricorn or slouch hat by cutting or modifying the brim, crown or crease, adding a sweatband and hatband, and further trimming it out to your taste.
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  • REVOLUTIONARY COPPER KETTLE - Camp Supplies
    REVOLUTIONARY COPPER KETTLE - Camp Supplies Patterned after an original in the Museum of the Fur Trade, this unique copper kettle has a ring on the lid for lifting & iron socket handle so the lid can be used as a skillet & an iron bail.
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Stoneware Crock Jugs & Alcohol on the American Frontier

Stoneware Crock Jugs & Alcohol on the American Frontier

Crazy Crow Trading Post offers glazed stoneware jugs for use in the home or camp. The early use of stoneware jugs in American in general, and the western frontier in particular, dates back to the end of the eighteenth century when their production began in the East.

Stoneware Jugs: aka Liquor Crocks, Whiskey Jugs & Shoulder Jugs

Stoneware jugs, also referred to as liquor crocks or jugs, whiskey jugs, and shoulder jugs, predate the mason jars and other modern containers that replaced them. While they obviously weren't used exclusively by any means for the consumption of "spirits", the image of a mountain man, pioneer, or other early frontier inhabitant taking a drink from a stoneware shoulder jug is certainly an American cliché, if not icon.

From Pack Mule or Steamer to Tin or Jug

Alcohol was commonly shipped to the mountains in ten-gallon wooden kegs. The weight of a ten-gallon keg and it's contents would have been just about one-hundred pounds. Two such kegs would have been about the optimum weight that a pack mule or horse could carry. Glass bottles, or ceramic jugs were too fragile and delicate to survive the long trip to the mountains. After arrival at its destination, the alcohol was sold in much smaller quantities, often being the customer's responsibility to provide a tin cup, jug or kettle to hold the purchased alcohol.

Alcohol and the Fur Trade

Alcohol was an important element in the fur trade from its origins in the earliest 1600's through the end of the era in the 1840's. During the rendezvous period (and earlier) all distilled liquors were colorless, amber whiskeys and rums not becoming available until much later. Rum and brandy and then later whiskey were used by the traders, whether they were French, English, American or Spanish. Large profits were assured through use of alcohol prior and during trading with the fur gathers, whether they were free trappers, company men or Native Americans. Indians were particularly susceptible to alcohol, because the Indians were culturally unprepared for alcohol and its affects.

Unsuccessful efforts were made to deal with the problem, both by the Indians, and by edict and law decreed by the Colonial powers and later by the U.S. government. Alcohol was most abundant around forts and trading posts, and at rendezvous. Alcohol packed to rendezvous was extremely high proof. Once at rendezvous or trading post, the alcohol was generally diluted with water at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:4. This increased the volume of the product and profits. Rufus Sage in his book, Rocky Mountain Life. records that on one occasion an Indian woman drank a cup of alcohol which had not been diluted: the woman died of alcohol poisoning within a few hours. Typically voyageurs and engageés were allocated one gill of whiskey at the end of every days work. While on the hunt, alcohol was generally not available, although there often seemed to be some around for someone badly injured and requiring an anesthetic or for other medicinal purposes.

A Jug Christens a Lake

Besides the usual use for personal comsumption, Fur Trade Era alcohol seems to have been used for more ceremonial uses. A marker located on the Summit of the hill on the road to Fremont Lake (Sublette County, Wyoming) reads:

"On the edge of this magnificent sheet of water, from 1833 to 1844, Captain William Drummond Stewart of Scotland, camped many times with Jim Bridger and other Mountain Men and the Indians. In 1837 his artist, Alfred Jacob Miller, painted the first pictures of this area. On Stewart's last trip in 1844, eight men in a rubber boat, first boat on the lake, honored their leader by christening these waters as Stewart's Lake in a joyous ceremony near the narrows with a jug of whiskey. Years later this glacier-formed lake with its shoreline of twenty-two miles and over six hundred foot depth was named for John C. Fremont, - the map makers knew not it had been named long before."

What is American Stoneware?

The term American Stoneware refers to the predominant houseware of 19th century North America-stoneware pottery usually covered in a salt glaze and often decorated using cobalt oxide to produce bright blue decorations. The vernacular term "crocks" is often used to describe this type of pottery, though the term "crock" is not seen in period documents describing the ware. Additionally, while other types of stoneware were produced in America concurrently with it-for instance, ironstone, yellowware, and various types of china-in common usage of the term, "American Stoneware" refers to this specific type of pottery.

Stoneware is pottery made out of clay of the stoneware category, fired to a high temperature (about 1200°C to 1315°C). The pottery becomes, essentially, stone. Salt-glazed pottery is a type of pottery produced by adding salt to a kiln to create a glass-like coating on the pottery. At just over 900°C, the salt (sodium chloride) vaporizes and bonds with the clay body. The sodium in the salt bonds with the silica in the clay, creating sodium silicate, or glass. A very commonly employed technique seen on American Stoneware is the use of cobalt decoration, where a dark gray mixture of clay, water and the expensive mineral cobalt oxide is painted onto the unfired vessels. In the firing process, the cobalt reacts to produce a vibrant blue decoration that has become the trademark of these wares.

Salt-Glazed Stoneware Productcion Begins in America

While salt-glazed stoneware probably originated in the Rhineland area of Germany circa 1400's, it became the dominant houseware of the United States of America circa 1780-1890.

Americans began producing salt-glazed stoneware circa 1720 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Yorktown, Virginia. By the 1770s, the art of salt-glazed stoneware production had spread to many centers throughout the United States, most notably Manhattan, New York. By 1820, stoneware was being produced in virtually every American urban center.

While salt-glazing is the typical glaze technique seen on American Stoneware, other glaze methods were employed by the potters. For instance, vessels were often dunked in Albany Slip, a mixture made from a clay peculiar to the Upper Hudson Region of New York, and fired, producing a dark brown glaze. Albany Slip was also sometimes used as a glaze to coat the inside surface of salt-glazed ware.

Decorating American Stoneware

While decorated ware was usually adorned using cobalt oxide, American Stoneware potters used other decorative techniques. Incising, a method in which a design of flowering plants, birds, or some other decoration was cut into the leather-hard clay using a stylus, produced detailed, recessed images on the vessels; these were usually also highlighted in cobalt. Stamped or coggled designs were sometimes impressed into the leather-hard clay, as well. Potters occasionally substituted manganese or iron oxide for cobalt oxide to produce brown, instead of blue, decorations on the pottery.

In the last half of the 19th century, potters in New England and New York state began producing stoneware with elaborate figural designs such as deer, dogs, birds, houses, people, historical scenes and other fanciful motifs including elephants and "bathing beauties."

A significant percentage of American Stoneware was signed using maker's marks and, much more rarely, incised signatures. Many pieces can be attributed to particular makers based on the cobalt decoration, clay body, form, etc. The gallon capacity of the vessels was often denoted using numeral stamps or incised or cobalt oxide numbers or hash marks applied in freehand.

American Stoneware was valued as not only a durable, decorative houseware but as a safer alternative to lead-glazed earthenware pottery produced in America before and during its production there. This earthenware, commonly referred to today as American Redware, was often produced by the same potters making American Stoneware.

Early American Stoneware: 18th Century Tupperware

Stoneware was used for anything we might use glass jars or tupperware for today. It held everything from water, soda, and beer to meat, grain, jelly, and pickled vegetables, and was produced in a very wide variety of forms. These ranged from common jars and jugs to more specialized items like pitchers, water coolers, spittoons, and butter pots, to much rarer banks and poultry waterers and exceptionally unusual pieces like bird houses, animal figures, and grave markers.

Mason Jars Replace Stoneware

With the proliferation of mass production techniques and machinery throughout the century, in particular the breakthrough of John Landis Mason's glass jar (see Mason jar), the production of what had been one of America's most vital handcrafts gradually ground to a halt. By the turn of the 20th century, some companies mass-produced stoneware with a white, non-salt glaze (commonly referred to as "bristol slip"), but these later wares lacked, for instance, the elaborate decorations common to the earlier, salt-glazed stoneware.

American Stoneware Glazing Techniques

Fired at temperatures ranging from 1200 to 1390 degrees centigrade, stoneware had an extremely hard and durable body. Fabric colors include gray, buff, and yellow-reds. The typically thick walls were part of heavy, utilitarian objects such as jugs, crocks, churns, pitchers, inkwells and oil lamps. Stoneware was being produced in eastern North America by the beginning of the eighteenth century. The variations in surface treatments recognized ncludes: unglazed, plain; salt glaze; Albany slip; and Bristol.

Plain, unglazed stoneware is rare, most was at least partially glazed for decorative reasons or to make cleaning easier. The surface of unglazed stoneware has a flat, mat-like texture and is light-brown, cream, or gray in color.

Salt Glazed Stoneware

Salt glazing was a simple technique. Common salt was thrown into the kiln as the object was being fired. Vaporizing, it condensed on the ware as a very thin film of glassy silicate. The distinctive surface is clear and shiny, but textured like orange peel. The color of the vessel will reflect the amount of iron present in the clay and the concentration of oxygen in the firing atmosphere. In the most basic expression the interiors were left unglazed. Equally common, however, were interiors treated with yellow-green lead or dark brown Albany slip glazes. All three forms were popular throughout the nineteenth century, although salt glazed became less common after the 1860's.

Albany Slip Stoneware

Albany slip was a hard, chocolate brown glaze (1) produced by natural clays. The clay was mixed as a watery slurry into which the vessel was dipped. Familiar applications were to the interior only (see Salt Glaze), the exterior only (or just part of the exterior, see Bristol), or to both surfaces. The clay was first extracted from loci near Albany, New York, but was widely produced in the Mid-west during the last three-quarters of the nineteenth century. It became less common after 1910.

Bristol Glaze Stoneware

Bristol glaze was prepared from commercially available ceramic chemicals that included feldspars and zinc oxide. The visual effect was an off-white to white color with the texture of a thick enamel (hard and glossy). The body was always molded and, frequently, decorated. The decoration involved such things as capacity figures, makers' names, and, more rarely, complex designs. A familiar variation was a jug with Albany slip down to the shoulders and Bristol glaze below. Bristol glaze stoneware was first produced in Bristol, England, hence its name. It became increasingly common after 1890 and replaces Albany slip in the twentieth century. The common forms of the product were as jars, crocks, and jugs.

Crazy Crow Trading Post

Crazy Crow Trading Post offers a selection of stoneware jugs and mugs that will compliment your camp or home.

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