Stoneware Cooler

Paul Cushman (1767-1833), Albany, NY
Date: 1805-1833
Maker: Paul Cushman (1767-1833), Albany, NY
Dimensions: 15 1/2 H x 9 5/8 Dia. (at waist)
Materials: Salt-glazed stoneware with incised and cobalt-glazed decorations
Marks: Impressed: PAUL:CUSHMAN
Provenance: Purchased from George Abraham and Gilbert May, West Granville, MA
Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1957.14
Comments: Coolers were designed to dispense liquids from a stationary position, unlike portable jugs and pitchers. A wooden spigot was inserted into the bunghole near the base; that controlled the flow of liquid into a waiting mug or pitcher. Coolers were usually decorated to transform the utilitarian container into an aesthetic attraction. Their broad surfaces also favored incised decoration and cobalt-glaze highlights. This cooler's birds and fish are liberally coated with blue glaze, as are the incised bands that mimic the bands found on wooden kegs. This cooler's top opening is large enough to allow large chunks of ice to be added to cool drinks. Paul Cushman was one of the founders of a regional stoneware industry that spanned the Upper Hudson Valley. When he moved to Albany around 1800, there were few local potters, but his pottery works became a long-lived and successful business that also initiated a century of tremendous growth and expansion in regional stoneware manufacturing.