Published: June 28, 2022
Submitted By Justin W. Thomas
NEWBURYPORT, MASS. – Auctioneer John McInnis and gallery director Dan Meader conducted a discovery estate auction at the Masonic Temple in downtown, Newburyport on Saturday June 18, where the contents of an old Georgetown, Mass., estate were sold. Among the objects found in the estate were a number of examples of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century New England country and formal furniture, a painted yellow on black side chair from Baltimore that was likely made at the Finlay workshop, a selection of Massachusetts glass from Sandwich and Boston, as well as six exterior lanterns that were originally used on a storefront at Jordan Marsh.
Additionally, there were two wonderful pieces of pottery discovered at the sale, one of which is the exciting “find” of a Nineteenth Century hand-thrown red earthenware urn with a marbled glaze and profiles on either side of what appears to be Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) with a shield, tassels and possibly a sheaf of wheat. The production of this piece relates to pieces made at the Dodge Pottery in Portland, Maine, including the lid’s finial and the glaze. The overall manufacture of this piece is also like that of a green glazed two-piece urn owned by the Maine Historical Society, which is signed by Benjamin Dodge (1774-1838), whose son Benjamin Dodge Junior (1802-1875) succeed him in the family business. However, it should be noted that some of these styles from the Dodge Pottery have been loosely attributed to Thomas Truxton Kendrick (1803-1878) Pottery in Hollis, Maine, but concrete evidence has proven otherwise.
Interestingly, though, if this piece was made in Portland, like I suspect it was, then it is a style that I have only previously read about but have never had the opportunity to examine in person.
The following information is from a paper written by William Goold (1809-1890) that was acquired by the Maine Historical Society’s library in 1928. Goold owned a General Store in Portland that was located near the Dodge Pottery when it was in operation.
“Mr. Dodge made progress in his Art. He commenced to ornament the most expensive jars and pots, especially water pitchers made to order, making them with the initial letter of names.
I remember one piece of ware made in 1825, on one side of which was purported to be a likeness of Lafayette, who was then the nation’s guest and having initials of the lady for whom it was intended on the other.
On some of the ware made by Mr. Dodge, were attempts at the likeness of animals and birds in relief and some modes in the glazing. Of those in relief the legs and tails of animals seemed to have been placed without due care. A horse would have the forward legs of a giraffe and perhaps the tail of a cow. Cats had a severe curl to their tails like the tail of a nervous dog.
Busts of people received more care. Most of these were in profile. After the pieces were finished, they were set in another room to dry, and it was favourite [sic] amusement with some bad boys, whom the good men tolerated notwithstanding, to disfigure the human faces by drawing down the corners of the mouths to produce a ludicrous expression. This disfiguring, the potter did not observe until it was too late to mend, and it was fired in the kiln with the others, set away on the shelf, and sold at reduced prices.”
The other “discovered” pottery at the sale was an unmarked Twentieth Century Chinese blue vase attributed to the Jugtown Pottery in Seagrove, N.C. Aside from being purely a decorative piece with an aesthetic appeal, these types of objects retain a fascinating history.
According to an academic thesis written by Mary Jean Crawford for the University of North Carolina in 1962, titled, Jugtown Pottery: History and Design, “When the present Jugtown first began operations in 1917, its output was almost exclusively the traditional and utilitarian shapes. But some years later, Tiffany Studios in New York, a customer of Jugtown Pottery, suggested that they make some decorative pieces.”
Chinese pottery found in museums and libraries in New York City, especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art, served as inspiration, with an emphasis of the pottery made during the Han, Tang and Sung dynasties. Artist Jacques Busbee (1870-1947) and Jugtown potter Ben Owen (1904-1983) brought these unfamiliar shapes to North Carolina, and ancient pottery made in China, Persia and Korea provided them with motivation.
Crawford additionally says, “The Chinese blue or blue-green glaze was Jugtown’s most prized glaze and, according to one authority, some of the best pieces of Jugtown Pottery, usually the Chinese translations, had the Chinese blue glaze. Mr Busbee mixed this glaze, and after his death, his wife Juliana Busbee (1876-1962) requested that, in memory of her husband, the blue-green glaze not be used on Jugtown Pottery. Ben Owen said only Mr Busbee knew the formula for this glaze.”
Juliana Busbee was also instrumental in the marketing of Jugtown Pottery in the north, by setting up a Village Store in Greenwich Village in New York City in the latter part of 1917, later located at 37 East 60th Street. The shop was originally stocked with wares made by utilitarian potters in North Carolina who had their own kick wheels, manufacturing shapes familiar to them, although the Busbees decided they wanted to go beyond this type of inventory. The Busbees eventually worked with such potters as J.H. Owen (1866-1923), Charlie Teague (1901-1938) and Ben Owen. The marketing efforts of the Busbees eventually paid off by the time the Village Store closed in the late 1920s, with a North Carolina business that was thriving, drawing the attention of pottery enthusiasts from all over, and creating a lasting legacy, where Jugtown Pottery is an institution for pottery production today.
For additional information, www.mcinnisauctions.com or 978-388-0400.
August 9, 2022
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