David Drake was an African- American potter and slave. David Drake was born in the year 1801 on a plantation in the state of North Carolina.
Drake is given credit for being the first slave potter to sign his work. He signed them Dave.
The artist is also known as Dave the Slave.
David Drake was not only a gifted artist, but he could also read. This was very unusual for the fact most slaves were illiterate. Its thought that his owner taught him to read by showing Dave the Bible.
Dave often inscribed his vessels with poetry.
In South Carolina just teaching an African- American to read or write could lead to a fine and prison term.
Historians argue over the number of works the artist actually produced.
Price range information: During the era that David Drake lived a person could buy one of his vessels for 50 cents. At auctions recently some have sold for more than $50,000! What an investment!
In this clip a closer look at work produced by Dave in 1857:
David Drake passed away in the 1870’s. He died a free man. His name doesn’t appear on the census taken in 1880 so its thought he passed away in the 1870’s.
Works by Dave the Slave can be found in the permament collections of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. ,and the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art.
What an amazing artist and person. Drake overcame many obstacles in order to produce wonderful art and make a legacy for himself. At a time when most African- Americans were not allowed to learn to read and write David Drake must have been a beacon of hope for a person of color. Drake was a reader, writer, and gifted visual artist.