"Moravian potters in North Carolina during the 1700s could not misbehave on the job without leaving paper trails. The stern, German-speaking leaders of their communities kept detailed minutes of their meetings, discussing ceramists who gossiped, complained or disobeyed church rules. Transcripts survive, scolding artisans like Jacob Meyer and Rudolph Christ who led a “bad way of life,” allowed apprentices “too much freedom about the selling of the wares” or “heated the kiln too much” and singed the pottery.

“I can’t think of any other decorative arts tradition where we know more about the personalities of the makers,” said Luke Beckerdite, an author of a new book, “Ceramics in America 2009” (Chipstone Foundation), about North Carolina’s colonial ceramists.

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