Samian Ware

Samian Ware A lot of our readers like to cruise flea markets, and we are often asked what type of pottery shapes, etc. they should be on the lookout for. If you find anything that looks like Samian ware, that would be a real find.

Samian ware is a bright red, glossy pottery that was primarily made in Gaul. It is fairly sturdy and difficult to chip or break. It is usually mold-formed an has small figures or decorations on the outside. It resembles Wedgwood pottery with the raised figures, but the figures and background are the same glossy red. Let me explain here that “bright red” in this case does not mean “fire-engine” red. It is bright clay red, the color you most often associate with barns.

East Gaulish Dr 37. On the left is a design in the style of the Rheinzabern potter Cobnertus III and bearing his name-stamp. The connection with the Antonine Central Gaulish potters is obvious. On the right is a design in the style of Dexter of Trier showing an original desing with his vase ovolo but a rather repetitive use of the same porçoa. Both styles c. 150-90.

Central Gaulish Dr 30. On the left, a design in the style of the Hadrianic potter Butrio and bearing his advertisement stamp. On the right, a free-style scene by the dominant Antonine potter Cinnamus and also bearing his name-stamp.

South Gaulish Dr 30. Composite drawing showing on the left a design of c. 40-55 with an elegant winding scroll and on the right a panel design more typical of the second half of the first century.


South Gaulish Déchelette 67 jar (left) and Kaorr 78 bowl (right). Produced mainly in the period c. 70-100.

Samian ware was very popular. Liversidge says that in Roman Britain all households of any standing possessed at least one table service of Samian.

If you are interested in making some Samian ware, the book Samian Ware from the Shire Archaeology Series has detailed drawings showing how the forms were made.


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