Standout Stoneware And Redware In Crocker Farm Sale

March 2, 2011

On March 5, Crocker Farm, Inc. will conduct what is potentially its finest auction of American stoneware and redware in years. Two exceptional Northeastern stoneware jugs will headline the 400 lot sale, both newly-discovered and offered without reserve. The first, a 10 inches tall Connecticut jug, inscribed “BENJAMIN HERINGTON / June the 1st, 1823,” is one of the most elaborately incised examples of American stoneware known. Made to commemorate Herington, a young potter who drowned in Norwich Harbor, the jug is decorated top-to-bottom on one side with an incised flower and three birds, below a heart initialed “B.H.” The reverse is decorated with a lidded urn below the potter’s name and date of his death, surrounded by impressed circles. Anthony Zipp, partner in Crocker Farm, Inc., comments, “This jug is the best example of incised stoneware to sell in years. The size is highly unusual, the decoration is elaborate and artistic, and rarely is such emotion conveyed in a piece.” The initials of the potters who made the jug in honor of their lost friend are incised under each handle. Estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, the jug was found in the closet of the consignor’s California home. It had been in the family for years.
The auction will take place at the firm’s new venue, the historic Gorsuch Barn, located thirty minutes south of York, Pennsylvania, in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland.
The second jug stands an impressive 21-1/2 iches tall and is attributed to the potting firm of Riedinger & Caire of Poughkeepsie, New York, circa 1865. Probably designed as a storefront piece to advertise the pottery and its various decorations, the large jug (estimate $15,000 to $25,000) features slip-trailed cobalt designs of a seated dog and reclining doe, flanking a large tree holding four birds. The unusually tall, slender form of the jug was created in two sections and sealed together prior to firing in the kiln. “In terms of form and decoration, I've never seen another like it,” says Zipp. “The shape of the jug appears to be designed at least in part to make room for the tall tree decoration. The decoration, which combines various motifs this pottery was known for, is extraordinary.” It was discovered in New York State this year.
Equally important is an extremely rare Pennsylvania redware heart-shaped inkstand (estimate $15,000 to $25,000). Recently discovered in York County, Pennsylvania, the finely-modeled and glazed piece bears the impressed maker’s mark, “Adam Ownhouse,” on the top surface. Ownhouse, born in Bavaria about 1810, was active in Pennsylvania in the 1840s, as evidenced by a son, William, born in that state in 1841. By 1850, he had traveled westward, establishing a long-standing pottery in Iowa. The inkstand, which is believed to be the only signed example of Ownhouse pottery known, indicates he was an apt potter. The curvaceous piece was expertly-constructed by hand using thin clay slabs, and the surface heavily-decorated with heart-shaped foliate designs, applied in four colors of slip. “Both the form of the piece and the slip decoration are exceptional,” says Zipp. The stand’s distinctive heart shape is well-known and coveted among collectors of early American ceramics. The form made waves in the antiques community twenty years ago, when a heart-shaped stoneware inkwell, made by William Crolius of New York, broke $100,000 at auction.
Another significant Pennsylvania lot is a large-sized redware figure of a dog (estimate $7,000 to $10,000), strongly attributed to Waynesboro potter, John Bell. Various characteristics of the dog, including the elaborately-stamped basket of apples it holds, point to Bell as its maker. Once owned by noted Holicong, Pennsylvania, collector, Paul Flack, the figure is one of a few Bell dogs of this quality to be sold at auction in the last several years.
A number of fine examples of early stoneware from New York and New Jersey will be offered. Leading the group is a very rare jar with incised floral decoration, impressed “COERLEARS HOOK / N. YORK” (estimate $15,000 to $20,000). The jar, found in the attic of a home in Virginia Beach, is one of a small number of surviving pieces known bearing an early stamp used by Manhattan potter, Thomas Commeraw. A miniature Manhattan, New York, jug with cobalt “watchspring” decoration (estimate $3,000 to $5,000), is possibly the earliest example of American stoneware to come on the market in years. The jug’s color and distinctive decoration are comparable to a stoneware pouring vessel made by potter Adam States, Sr., for his wife, Elizabeth, in 1745. Estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, a Manhattan stoneware pitcher with incised floral decoration carries a strong Remmey family attribution based on the style of the leaves in the decoration. It was purchased from a Maryland home thirty years ago and has never been offered for sale. A South Amboy, New Jersey, jug (estimate $4,000 to $6,000), made by the potting firm of Thomas Warne & Joshua Letts and impressed “LIBERTY FOREV,” is a desirable example of early 19th century stoneware from a region rich in potting history.
Several Northern figural-decorated pieces will cross the block, including a very rare one-gallon Norton jug with pheasant (estimate $3,000 to $5,000), a one-gallon Farrar jug with elaborate bird motif (estimate $3,000 to $5,000), and a four-gallon White Utica crock with standing dog (estimate $2,000 to $4,000). Many good-quality pieces from New York State were consigned as part of the collection of Lynn White of Readfield, Maine, including a Riedinger & Caire crock with reclining deer design (estimate $2,000 to $4,000). White made most of her purchases during the 1960s and 1970s.
A good selection of Virginia stoneware and redware will be sold. A two-gallon Alexandria stoneware pitcher, impressed “H. SMITH & CO.” (estimate $2,000 to $4,000), is one of a few examples of the form bearing this difficult-to-find mark. Also from Alexandria is an extremely rare stoneware jar, stamped “J. MILLER / ALEX” (estimate $2,000 to $4,000). This jar, made between 1824 and 1826 by Alexandria-trained potter, James Miller, is one of less than ten intact examples known bearing this short-lived potter’s mark. A scarce cobalt-decorated stoneware preserve jar by a member of the Coffman family of Rockingham County (estimate $1,000 to $1,500) is a good example of a desirable Shenandoah Valley form. Several fine examples of Strasburg multi-glazed redware will cross the block, including a fine 3-1/4-inch ovoid jar (estimate $1,500 to $2,000) and an ultra rare food mold ($2,000 to $3,000), which is pictured in H.E. Comstock’s definitive book, “The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region.”
Other highlights from the South include three signed Lanier Meaders face jugs, an open-handled Kentucky stoneware jar (estimate $800 to $1,200), and an extremely rare Great Road redware jug with copper slip decoration (estimate $1,500 to $2,500). The Great Road jug is attributed to Greene County, Tennessee potter, Christopher Alexander Haun, based on similarities to other Haun examples. It is possibly the most heavily-decorated jug known from the Great Road school of potters.
Among a variety of Midwestern lots, March 5’s auction will include an important stoneware pitcher in the form of a frog with monkey handle. The pitcher carries an attribution to the famous Kirkpatrick Brothers of Anna, Illinois, and is estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. Molded from a more sophisticated ceramic pitcher, probably majolica, the pitcher depicts a large crouched frog with an open mouth forming the spout. The handle is molded in the form of monkey wearing a derby. The pitcher’s salt-glazed surface is decorated with cobalt dashes, and the frog’s eyes are decorated with a light brown slip. Zipp comments, “This is certainly one of the finest pieces of molded stoneware we have seen. The color is great, the form is exceptional. It has a great folk art look about it.”
“We are excited about our new location and equally excited about the great things we will be offering in 2011,” says Zipp. Their new address is 15900 York Rd., Sparks, Maryland, 21152. An auction preview will take place on Friday, March 4, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. As well as live, absentee, and phone bidding, all lots will be available for online bidding at For more information, call (410) 472-2016, or visit Crocker Farm’s Website,


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