SPARKS, MD.— “This delicately potted and decorated work ranks among the finest examples of Massachusetts stoneware known and the finest bearing a Boston maker’s mark,” wrote the Zipp family of Crocker Farm Auction, concerning the “Mrs Elesebeth Tarbell” Boston stoneware jar that sold for $180,000 in a sale that closed April 9. The jar was produced in Charlestown, Mass., in 1806 at the merchant-owned Frederick Carpenter pottery. It features an incised and cobalt-highlighted bird perched on a branch, the reverse decorated with a flowering plant bearing two fan-shaped blossoms.
Elizabeth Cook Tarbell of Lynnfield, Mass., was the wife of Revolutionary War veteran Jonathan Tarbell, who was the first cousin to William Tarbell, the Danvers-trained potter who operated an earthenware shop in Beverly, Mass., from 1782 to 1810.
“Its exquisite floral motif draws inspiration from the Manhattan stoneware tradition,” the firm wrote, “related to such works as the famous Elizabeth Crane punch bowl at the American Folk Art Museum.”
The condition on the 10-inch high jar was excellent, Crocker Farm said, describing it as essentially “as-made… appearing as it would have to Elesebeth Tarbell when she received it 215 years ago.”
The jar descended in the Tarbell/Hawkes family where family lore said it was made by Jonathan and Elizabeth’s son, Nathaniel, though the firm said the misspelling of the name may suggest it was made by another Tarbell family member and commissioned by Nathaniel instead. The jar was bought from the family by dealer Bill Samaha in the 1970s, who sold it to the consignor.
The jar sold to a private collector and it set an auction record for Massachusetts stoneware. Watch for a full review of Crocker Farm’s sale in a future issue.