Published: March 29, 2011
Crocker Farm achieved new heights at its March 5 stoneware and redware auction that saw two records set for rare and unusual pieces of stoneware.
The sale, the company’s second in its new location, the 1841 Gorsuch Barn, was a strong one, seeing more than 100 lots offered here than in its previous sale in November. Prices also were robust, especially on the rarest of items. The sale kicked off with a bang, with its two top-earning lots early in the sale, which gave the sale a higher gross by lot 15 than the fall sale overall.
Auctioneer/owner Tony Zipp said the sale was “great &†with a very, very large crowd,” and reflected sentiment that the economy is improving. “Stoneware is really strong now,” he said.
The top lot was a rare and important double-handled stoneware jug with copious incise decoration and was inscribed to Benjamin Herington, a potter who died June 1, 1823, by drowning in Norwich, Conn., harbor. Likely of Connecticut origin, the jug attracted a record number of phone bidders at any Crocker auction, with nine phones vying for the lot.
Conservatively estimated at $20/30,000, the jug opened at $10,000, moving along in $5,000 jumps until it hit $60,000, when bidding was down to two phones and bidding was in $10,000 increments.
The jug attained $138,000, including premium, going to stoneware collector and upstate New York businessman Adam Weitsman, who said after the sale that he bought this piece expressly to donate to the New York State Museum in Albany, where he has already donated the bulk of his massive stoneware collection. The price is said to be the highest paid at a stoneware specialty auction.
The jug was found in a California home, and the doctor who consigned it was watching the auction action intently online, Zipp said. The consignor was evidently quite shocked at the price as he emailed the Zipps while the sale was still going on to ask if the price he had seen online was correct. From the phone bidding desk, Tony Zipp happily emailed the man back that it was, indeed, correct.
A few lots later, Weitsman bid on and won another profusely decorated stoneware jug for $103,500, a world auction record for a post-1825 New York/New England stoneware piece. This one was a very tall jug with slip trailed cobalt animal scenes, attributed to Riedinger & Caire, renowned Poughkeepsie, N.Y., potters.
The 21½-inch-tall jug came out of a New York home and was likely made to sit in a storefront window, possibly the potter’s window to advertise its wares. The designs are characteristic of Riedinger & Caire, depicting fan-tailed birds, a dog, a doe and a tree with graduated limbs. Weitsman also said this piece would be donated to the museum.
“The New York State Museum in Albany is in the process of building one of the finest stoneware collections known, and many of the amazing pieces have come from past Crocker Farm auctions,” Weitsman said.
The redware category was led by a rare and important heart-shaped inkstand stamped “Adam Ownhouse” of Pennsylvania origin, circa 1840, that was recently found there in York County. It sold just over estimate at $28,750. The slab-constructed stand bore elaborate decorations of hearts in green, cream, brown and yellow slip.
Another redware standout was a large redware figure of a seated dog with basket, attributed to John Bell, Waynesboro, Penn., mid-Nineteenth Century, which nearly doubled its high estimate to fetch $19,550. The hand molded dog with incised face holds a basket of apples in his mouth. The figure rattles when shaken, due to loose pieces of clay forced inside prior to being fired. Bell was renowned for his animal figures and this piece shows great attention to detail.
Choice stoneware jars were liberally sprinkled around the sale, with the star of this grouping being a rare and important 2-gallon ovoid jar with elaborate incised floral decoration that was stamped “Coerlears Hook / N. York,” an early variation of Thomas Commeraw’s maker’s mark. Dating to the late Eighteenth Century, the jar fetched $25,875.
Rounding out the auction were an Anna Pottery stoneware pitcher in the form of a frog with a monkey handle, circa 1880, that took $17,825 and a Norton stoneware jug with cobalt decoration of a pheasant, selling for $10,925.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Crocker Farm’s next sale will be an antiques and decorative arts auction on June 4, followed by a stoneware/redware sale July 16.
For information, 410-337-5090 or www.crockerfarm.com .
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