Published: July 17, 2007
Anthony and Barbara Zipp of Crocker Farm, Inc, began collecting American stoneware in 1977 and started selling it in 1983. As dealers, they once did 30 antiques shows a year. After becoming auctioneers in July 2004, they now organize specialized sales of American stoneware and redware.
Their sales take place in May and November, coinciding with Jim Burk’s Greater York Antiques Show and Barry Cohen’s York Country Classic antiques show. Crocker Farm’s May 19 sale at York Fairgrounds grossed $585,000 on just under 500 lots. It was the Zipps’ biggest auction to date.
Crocker Farm began on a high note as a one-gallon stoneware pitcher, 11 inches tall, with elaborate bird and floral incised decoration well exceeded its $15/25,000 estimate, crossing the block at $69,000, including premium, selling to a private collector of Baltimore pottery and underbid by Massachusetts dealer David Wheatcroft.
The pitcher is attributed to Henry Remmey, Sr, of Baltimore and dates to about 1815′0. It was dug from a privy in Baltimore earlier this year. “It had rolled under a ledge. When they brought it out, the bottom was missing. They went back and found another piece. We took the pitcher to a restorer who we have used for 20 years. He made an excellent repair,” says Tony Zipp.
The Remmey pitcher was found on property once owned by Jacob Myers, the prosperous Baltimore merchant who once employed Remmey. “We believe that the pitcher was made as a wedding present for Jacob Myer’s daughter. It is one of the best pieces of American stoneware ever. A similar example in pristine condition would have sailed past $100,000,” says Zipp.
Incised “S. Keyes” and stamped “JULIUS NORTON/BENNINGTON, VT.,” an open-handled presentation water cooler with incised bird decorations sold for $36,800 ($15/25,000.) The circa 1840 vessel, 20 inches tall, was probably made for a member of the family of Joseph Keyes, a blacksmith and neighbor to several Bennington potters.
A 13¼-inch-tall cobalt decorated stoneware presentation jar fetched $23,000 ($6/8,000). Incised “S.N. Bailey” and dated 1849, the numbers “6” and “5” were impressed on the jar’s front and “9” was impressed on the handle terminals. “This was consigned to us by an elderly man. He was not sure we would want it because its handle was broken. It was probably made in the town of Beaver, in western Pennsylvania, though it had a lot of New York State attributes,” says Zipp.
Also of note was a J.&E. Norton, Bennington, Vt., five-gallon stoneware crock decorated with a hawk and a rising sun. Measuring 12½ inches high, it sold within estimate at $22,425.
“We offered 11 lots of Anna, Ill., pottery, the biggest group at auction in a decade,” says Zipp. A stoneware “Shoo Fly” jug by Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, circa 1885, fetched $21,850 against an estimate of $2/4,000. The 57/8 -inch high figural work depicts a woman hanging from a jug, a fly between her hands.
An M.&T. Miller, Newport, Penn., jar with cobalt bird and branch decoration sold for $14,375. “The consignor collected stoneware in the 1950s and 1960s. The jar still had a price tag of $24.50 on it,” says Zipp.
“We had more than 90 consignors and an unprecedented number of bids. About a third of our sales were left, phone, or Internet bids,” notes the auctioneer. “The high end of the market is very strong. It won’t be long before pieces that were bringing $50,000 a few years ago will consistently sell for $100,000. On the other hand, pieces that sold for $200 or $300 ten or 15 years ago haven’t increased in price.”
Crocker Farm is a family affair. The Zipps’ three sons each joined the business after college. Luke does all the photography for Crocker Farm’s fully illustrated color catalogs. Mark researches and writes the entries. Brandt Zipp is “computer savvy,” says his father. He designs the catalogs, lasting references that Crocker Farm sells on its website.
Prices include the 15 percent buyer’s premium (20 percent on credit card purchases.) For information, 410-337-5090 or www.crockerfarm.com .
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