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Dave the Slave (also "Dave the Potter" and "David Drake") is the most commonly used moniker of an influential American potter who lived in Edgefield, South Carolina and produced alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery from the 1820s to the 1860s. He was an enslaved African-American, and often signed his works "Dave." [1]

After emancipation he adopted the last name "Drake," presumably after Harvey Drake who was his owner until 1832 and who is presumed to have taught him to be a potter. [2]

The dates of Dave's birth and death are not known.


  • Dave frequently adorned his work with short poems and couplets. This unusual feature of his work is now one of his most famous trademarks. Some collectors and scholars have suggested that Dave's poetry should be characterized as an early act of sedition in the cause of civil rights, because at the time it was generally forbidden for African-Americans to read and write. [3]
  • Pieces by Dave frequently feature the initials "LM." This stood for Lewis Miles, the man who owned the pottery workshop where Dave worked (and possibly owned Dave for a time). [4]
  • In contemporary auctions and sales, his work has sold for over $40,000 per piece. [5]
  • His pottery is part of the Civil War collection at the Smithsonian. [6]