Dave the Slave

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Dave the Slave (also "Dave the Potter" and "David Drake") (c.1801-c.1870s[1]) was an influential American potter who lived in Edgefield, South Carolina and produced alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery from the 1820s to the 1860s. An enslaved African American, he often signed his works "Dave."[2]

After emancipation, he adopted the surname "Drake." Historians believe this is after Harvey Drake, his master until 1832, who is presumed to have taught him to be a potter.[3]


  • Dave frequently adorned his work with short poems and couplets. This unusual feature of his work is one of his most famous trademarks. Some collectors and scholars have suggested that Dave's poetry should be characterized as an early act of sedition in the cause of civil rights, because at the time it was generally forbidden for African-Americans to read and write.[4]
  • Pieces by Dave frequently feature the initials "LM." This stood for Lewis Miles, the man who owned the pottery workshop where Dave worked (and possibly owned Dave for a time).[4]
  • In contemporary auctions and sales, his work has sold for over $40,000 per piece.[3]
  • Recently (2014) a ceramic jug sold at a public auction, at rural western North Carolina, Forest City, for $620 had born the mark of an upside down horseshoe on the bottom. The buyer claimed it was worth much more and its creation was by Dave the Slave. I seek confirmation of my eye-witness account in the hopes that the upside down horseshoe can be confirmed on other pieces.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dave the Slave", Leonard Todd website
  2. ^ [1], Dave the Slave website
  3. ^ a b "Dave the Potter", University of South Carolina
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ "Dave Drake: Jar", Civil War, Smithsonian Institution

External links[edit]