Variety And Discoveries In Latest Crocker Farm Pottery Auction

May 28, 2010

On April 10, Crocker Farm, Inc. held its Spring Auction of Antique American Stoneware and Redware pottery at the York Expo Center Old Main Building, in York, Pennsylvania. The 357-lot sale included a number of significant new discoveries in American ceramics, as well as a few important offerings from long-term collections. As is typical of Crocker Farm auctions, pieces from a variety of regions, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, and Midwest, were offered. The sale grossed $355,045 and 100 percent of the lots in the sale sold - with only three having carried reserves.
While prices were streaky for low-value items, high-end pieces held their own. “Prices for high quality pieces are as strong as ever. This is especially true for items that are fresh-to-the-market,” commented Anthony Zipp, co-owner of Crocker Farm, Inc. Several of the highest selling lots in the sale were newly found in consignor’s homes or at small estate sales, previously unknown to the collecting community. Others had been off the market for decades.
The top lot of the sale came in the form of an extremely rare one-gallon stoneware jug with incised American warship decoration, stamped “N. CLARK & CO. / MT. MORRIS”. Pictured in William Ketchum, Jr.’s book, American Stoneware, the jug had been owned by its consignor for the last thirty years. After fierce competition between a floor and absentee bidder, the jug ended up selling to the absentee bidder for $32,200, well above its $10,000 to $20,000 estimate. Other better examples of stoneware from New York State and New York City brought strong prices. A one-gallon “LYONS” stoneware jar with cobalt running horse decoration brought $19,550, against an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. A six-gallon stoneware crock with large cobalt bird design, stamped “W. ROBERTS / BINGHAMTON, N.Y.,” (estimate $1,200 to $1,800) sold for $2,760. A one-gallon New York State stoneware jug with large incised bird decoration (estimate $3,000 to $4,500) sold for $5,750. From Manhattan, an extremely rare open-handled stoneware jar with incised fox decoration (estimate $3,000 to $5,000) crossed the block at $7,475. A rare squat-formed jar with incised decoration, also from Manhattan and estimated at $2,000 to $3,500, brought $3,680. A signed Crolius “PEACHES” jar with Albany slip glaze (estimate $600 to $800) brought $2,070; and a very fine “COMMERAWS STONEWARE” jug (estimate $2,000 to $4,000) sold for $4,025.
New England stoneware sold well. A large stoneware jar with applied eagle, inscribed “Gen’l. Andrew Jackson” on one side and decorated with the date of the Battle of Bunker Hill on the reverse, brought $10,925, over twice its $2,500 to $4,500 estimate. It had been purchased at an estate sale in Northern New Jersey earlier this year. From Bennington, Vermont, a two-gallon Julius Norton stoneware pitcher with cobalt butterfly decoration (estimate $1,200 to $1,800) sold for $3,220; and a rare two-gallon Norton jar with incised long-billed bird (estimate $1,500 to $2,500) brought $2,530. An Edmands stoneware crock with cobalt standing deer design (estimate $3,000 to $5,000) crossed the block at $5,175. An early incised stoneware pitcher attributed to Hartford, Connecticut (estimate $1,500 to $2,500) sold for $2,645.
Several pieces of Midwestern pottery were offered, and most sold extremely well. An Anna Pottery pig bottle with Albany slip glaze sold to a floor bidder for $14,950, far beyond its estimate of $3,500 to $5,500. The bottle, which came from a North Carolina consignor who had owned it a very long time, featured an elaborate incised map as well as the highly unusual inscription "From Kirkpatricks / Anna Ills." A very rare two-gallon Ohio stoneware crock with cobalt horse decoration crossed the block at $5,750 against a $1,500 to $2,500 estimate. A glazed redware jar, stamped “J M T & CO / LONDON” and made by Morgantown, WV-trained potter, James M. Thompson, brought $4,370, well above its $800 to $1,200 estimate. A 39-1/2-inch tall stoneware jug cooler, the largest piece of pottery Crocker Farm has ever sold, drew interest during the preview and from bidders during the sale. Covered in an Albany slip glaze and made by Joe Armstrong for the E.M. Ransbottom pottery in Roseville, Ohio, the massive vessel sold above its $2,500 to $4,500 estimate at $5,865.
Southern redware and stoneware in the sale was well-received. Leading the group was an extremely rare Great Road redware jar, signed by Greene County, Tennessee, potter, Christopher Alexander Haun. Haun was hanged by the Confederates in 1861 after participating in a bridge-burning as a Union sympathist. This incident is well-known among Civil War enthusiasts. With several interested parties, the jar ended up selling to a phone bidder for $29,900 against an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. A second Great Road jar with original lid, believed to be from Smythe County, Virginia, sold for over twice its $2,000 to $4,000 estimate at $8,200. The jar had a circular piece broken out of it that had been stapled back in place years ago. The damage did not seem to deter interest. “This was a great-looking piece,” noted Zipp. “We found the jar in the bottom of a consignor’s cupboard in Ohio. She was consigning some early New York stoneware, and couldn't believe we would want to sell it given the condition.” An extremely rare Texas stoneware temperance jug with applied decorations of snakes, two human figures, a crayfish, and a spider, garnered significant interest from a number of phone bidders. Signed by Limestone County potter, J.L. Stone, the jug was consigned by a man from Mexico, who found it while cleaning out his garage. Despite losses to the applied decoration, the whimsical folk art piece brought $11,500, over twice its estimate of $2,500 to $4,500. Other Southern highlights included an Albany slip glazed face vessel (estimate $1,200 to $1,800), which sold for $2,850, and an Edgefield, South Carolina, jar attributed to Dave the Slave (estimate $1,200 to $2,000), which brought $2,180.
A selection of rare Shenandoah Valley pottery brought competitive prices. A painted redware spaniel, impressed “JOHN BELL / WAYNESBORO” and dated “1874,” crossed the block at $5,405 against a $5,000 to $7,000 estimate. It was the second signed Bell spaniel sold by Crocker Farm within the past year, the other being a glazed example from the Kelly Young Collection offered in October 2009. A hand-modeled redware dog (estimate $2,500 to $4,500), attributed to John’s younger brother, Solomon, of Strasburg, Virginia, sold for $3,450. Recently discovered in Missouri, an important Rockingham County, Virginia, stoneware jar with bluebell decoration (estimate $3,000 to $5,000) was hammered down at $4,600. Signed “John H. Coffman 1853” across the reverse side, the small jar is believed to be the finest signed example of John Coffman pottery known.
A large number of Pennsylvania stoneware items were sold, the most noteable of which were made in the Western half of the state. An extremely rare six-gallon stoneware jar, stamped “J. SWANK & CO. / JOHNSTOWN, PA,” was cobalt-decorated on each side with the early date 1857 between two large flowers. Although the jar had a section reglued at the base, it sold for nearly three times its high estimate at $7,475. A profusely-decorated stoneware churn, impressed “HAMILTON / Greensboro, Pa.” (estimate $2,000 to $3,000) brought $4,025, and an A.P. Donaghho stoneware cream jar with stenciled eagle decoration ($1,000 to $1,600) was hammered down at $1,840.
There was significant interest in Baltimore, Maryland, stoneware. A 19-1/2-inch stoneware jar with a slip-trailed cobalt floral decoration, incised on the underside “Morgan & Amoss / Makers / Pitt Street / Baltimore / 1820,” brought $6,900 against a $2,500 to $4,500 estimate. Believed to be the largest example of William Morgan and Thomas Amoss stoneware known, it had been found earlier this year in the basement of a home in Charlottesville, Virginia. A smaller unsigned Morgan jar (estimate $600 to $1,000) brought $1,380. An extremely rare four-gallon advertising crock, made for a Chestertown, Maryland, merchant and marked by potter Peter Herrmann, brought over high estimate at $1,438.
Adding diversity to the auction were over thirty lots of yellowware from a thirty-year private collection. Included were examples of utilitarian tableware as well as several rare food molds. Highlights included a master salt with seaweed decoration, estimated at $300 to $500 and selling for $719, a very rare lion’s head mold (estimate $400 to $600), which sold for $690, and a rare Centennial mold ($75 to $150), which brought $518.
Consignments are now being accepted for Crocker Farm’s next auction, which will be held on July 17. Several significant pieces are already on hand, including an extremely rare Anna Pottery stoneware hanging urn, a Norton stoneware jar with deer decoration, a “NEW-HAVEN” stoneware gemel with incised birds, and finely-decorated examples of Cowden & Wilcox stoneware. For those interested in consigning, contact Crocker Farm by phone at (410) 337-5090, by e-mail at, or through the firm’s Web site,


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