“If at first you don’t succeed, find something you have an aptitude for.” FACE JUGS – Face jugs – or at least “pictures” of people’s faces - are as old as mankind, being found on everything from cave walls to pottery, cloth and canvas to mosaics and statuary around the world and in every culture. It has been suggested that the origin of face jugs in Southern Pottery came over with the slaves from Africa and were used as grave markers. I guess this is as good an explanation as any and certainly makes for a good story in a book but seeing the history behind faces on items of all kinds it would seem a strech to think that the above should be cast in stone.  And having been around a pottery I have a different take as to how they came about in the South. If one notices, many different “whimsical” items made of clay can be found – snakes, birds, animals, etc.  These were probably first made by children or young adults during slow times in a shop – maybe while a kiln was being burned or at the end of the day and little else was being done. I have seen times like this, seen someone pick up a piece of clay and mold something.  Seen someone standing around just pick up a piece of clay and put a face on a jug. Maybe it was one of the grandchildren, making a face of Grandpa.  Maybe one of the older children making a face of a sister or brother. At any rate, the piece ends up being burned and then someone indicates they want to buy it and, voila, guess what gets made in the future? But from whatever source they came, there is no question but that the Brown family was one of the early and most prolific of those making face jugs.  There are representative pieces from several family members going back many years – I personally have one that Grandpa made and gave to Charles Lynch in 1929.  His son, Charles Junior, gave it to me in 1992.  In the picture of the second Arden shop, several are shown in the display.  I have seen no early pictures from any other potters having made them. Since they were not an item that had much useful purpose - although they could be used like any other jug - and therefore not big sellers, they were made in small numbers. It seems there was little interest in them until one of Grandpa’s “Devil Jugs” – a 5 gallon jug with a face some consider the Devil’s and horns on top – sold at auction in New York for some sixth five thousand dollars.  At the price pottery was going for when he made it – around $0.10 per gallon - Grandpa maybe got a dollar for it, $0.50 for the 5 gallon jug and another $0.50 for putting the face on it. But after that sale, everyone jumped on the band wagon and suddenly, “Been making them for years.” Ring jugs are another item that was rarely made.  Other that family, I have only seen one other picture of a ring jug made by anyone other than the Browns – Ms Dorothy Cole Auman is holding one in a picture from Nancy Sweezy’s book, “RAISED IN CLAY”.  There is no note as to who made the ring jug but I assume it was made in the Seagrove or Sanford, North Carolina, area.  The Hewell’s in the Gillsville, Ga., area made some as well and in recent years, Chester has been making some ware in the old style but I have not seen any ring jugs. Let a ring jug sell for a lot of money and everyone will start making them - “Been making them for years”.  :)
BROWN’S POTTERY - from the inside