This highly decorated tin-glazed earthenware was recovered from the excavations at the St. John’s site. When tin oxide is added to a lead it creates a glaze which is thick, white, and opaque – the perfect canvass for painting. The use of the wide range of colors and the color and nature of the ceramic paste identify this as Italian tin-glazed earthenware.





This example, while somewhat later, shows a very similar color palette to our specimen.


This type of pottery was made in a number of European centers. It was introduced to Europe from the Middle East and spread by potters. Some of the first potters making tin-glazed pottery in Europe were the Italians. Some of the finest examples were made in Faenza near Florence.


Italian tin-glazed earthenware is sometimes called maolica because some of the first examples to arrive in Italy were from the island of Majorca. Similar pottery is called majolica in Spain, faïence in France (based on the word Faenza), and delftware (based on the name of the city of Delft, Holland) in both Holland and England.



This illustration is from a 16th-century manuscript titled The Three Books of the Potters Art by Cipriano Piccolpasso.