Published: March 27, 2017
SPARKS, MD. — A rare alkaline-glazed stoneware face jug with kaolin eyes and teeth, Edgefield, S.C., origin, circa 1845-1860, took top dollar at Crocker Farm’s March 25 sale of American stoneware and redware. Estimated $20/30,000, the ovoid jug with semi-squared spout and hand-modeled and applied clay face brought $47,200, including buyer’s premium.
With a large mouth with kaolin teeth, pronounced nose with depressed nostrils, single curving eyebrow, large ears and pierced eyes set into wide lids, brushed with kaolin slip, its surface was covered in an a light-green alkaline glaze over a light, buff-colored clay ground.
The jug, which recently surfaced, is regarded by the auction house as the finest among a group of four Edgefield examples collected in New York State during the 1970s. The first three were sold through Crocker Farm in 2015 and 2016.
Catalog notes indicate that the jug’s form, glaze and quality of workmanship suggest that it may have been made early in the Edgefield District’s foray into face jug production, possibly predating the arrival of the Wanderer slaves. While many Edgefield face vessels exhibit a naive quality, the superior craftsmanship of this example indicates a true artist familiar with hand-modeling, sculpting and the techniques involved in creating this coveted Southern folk art form.
“Good Southern stoneware is in demand,” said Tony Zipp of Crocker Farm. “We had 10 phone lines active on this piece,” adding that it went to a Virginia dealer on the phone.
An auction surprise was a rare miniature stoneware jug with scrolled handle and slip-trailed cobalt foliate and watchspring decoration attributed to Adam States Sr of New York City, circa 1745. It leaped beyond its $5/8,000 presale estimate to finish at $36,580.
Watch for a full report on this sale in an upcoming issue.
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