Published: November 22, 2021
SPARKS, MD.— An incised, signed and dated 1854 jug by enslaved African American potter Dave Drake sold for $420,000 at Crocker Farm’s November 5-19 sale. The result ranks as the second highest to date for the potter, who holds the auction record for any piece of American pottery at $1.56 million.
Incised to the three-gallon alkaline glazed stoneware jug is the message “Lm says this handle will crack,” a message that has captivated audiences and scholars alike as writers began telling its story in 2005. It has been published and discussed eight times since.
Lewis Miles, the slaver of Dave Drake, owned the Stony Bluff Manufactory in Edgefield, S.C.
The auction house wrote, “Few of Dave’s inscriptions reveal the potter’s personality and add to the mystique of this artisan as these words do. In his large, deeply-scrawled script, Drake boldly defies the opinion of his master in words that are literally set in stone for all to see. As such, this inscription is regarded as one of Dave’s most powerful, subversive, and enigmatic incised quotations–one which also, almost paradoxically, imbues the work with a strong sense of humor. Adding further significance and humor to the story is the fact that the handle, to this day, has not broken or even cracked, proving Miles wrong and vindicating the craftsmanship of Drake.”
Crocker Farm’s sale saw a number of other notable results including $240,000 paid for an elaborately incised ship jug and $96,000 for one of the finest jugs made by Thomas Commeraw. Watch for a full review in an upcoming issue.
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