Published: February 22, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Slotin Folk Art Auction
BUFORD, GA. – Of the 368 unreserved lots listed in Slotin Folk Art Auction’s February 12 Southern Folk & Art Pottery Extravaganza, all but one, which had been withdrawn for additional research, sold and the house raked in a total of $136,388. Absentee bids provided ample initial support for online bidding, which was conducted via LiveAuctioneers.
“The sale was great,” Steve Slotin said when we reached him by phone after the sale. “It met all of our expectations and people were really happy with the selection. There were a few surprises, but things were pretty consistent, for the most part selling near or within estimates.”
While most of the sale sold to buyers in the United States, he noted that Southern and folk art pottery is starting to attract interest from international buyers, notably ones in Belgium and England. The trend is beginning to follow that of Outsider and Self-Taught Art, where there is already an established – and growing – market throughout Europe.
“He’s still producing and catching fire with a lot of younger collectors. When you see their price spike, it’s wonderful to see,” Slotin was referring to the work of Roger Corn (Georgia, b 1957), who was represented in the sale by four works, including the top lot of the day: “Jungle Fowl,” which flew to $3,500. At 25 inches tall, Slotin said it was the largest one he’d ever seen. It attracted a lot of interest prior to the sale, and there were enough absentee bids on it that the bidding on the $300/500 work opened at $1,100. A long-time collector in South Dakota bagged the bird.
The three other examples by the artist sold more modestly. At $1,000, “Wild Hog” appealed more than “Wild Hog with Pointy Teeth,” which made $625. Bringing up the rear, a face pitcher with open mouth, estimated at just $50-$75, topped off at $407.
A utilitarian 5-gallon beehive double-handled jug realized $3,250, the second highest price of the sale. It was the subject of much discussion about where it had been made – some people thought it was made in South Carolina, others believed it to have originated in East Georgia. Regardless, the 16-inch-tall jug, which dated to the late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century and had a light color ash glaze, was in excellent condition.
“The thing with a lot of collectors; they’re looking for the best examples they can find,” Slotin said. “The maker of some of this unmarked utilitarian stuff is unknown; we have a very active community of hardcore collectors. The wonderful thing about that jug – its very distinguished, it was a wonderful example. It had a great glaze and was in mint condition, particularly for something that has been used and has survived as long as it has.”
Signed or attributed pieces of utilitarian pottery were led at $1,375 for an 11-inch-tall 2-gallon fluted rim storage jar with ash glaze by Daniel Seagle (Catawba Valley, N.C., 1805-1867). It was followed at $1,188 by a larger 4-gallon storage jar, possibly by Benjamin F. Landrum, which had provenance to the Rick Berman gallery of Atlanta, Ga. Another piece that had also been handled by Rick Berman was a 5-gallon jug by an anonymous Alabama potter, which stood 19 inches tall and topped off at $563.
Works by perennial favorite Lanier Meaders (1917-1998) were in plentiful supply. Of the eight face jugs, a vase, lamp, a churn, two jugs and two pitchers on offer, an early rock tooth politician face jug with a tobacco-spit glaze and retaining all but one of its rock teeth, brought the highest price of the group when it sold for $3,125, just above the low estimate. Slotin said Meaders produced rock teeth jugs for just a few years, early in his career. The rest of the face jugs brought prices ranging from $1,125 to $1,875, largely meeting, or exceeding, expectations.
Southern art pottery was well represented with a Pisgah Forest Pottery 17-½-inch-tall floor vase leading the group at $2,875. Slotin said there hadn’t been one on the market for a long time and it was a beautiful, large example he deemed of “museum quality.” Of similar palette, a group of three Chinese blue and red pieces – two bowls and a vase – by Ben Owen considerably outpaced the $200/400 estimate and sold for $2,000.
Other examples of art pottery in the sale also saw interest, Jane Peiser’s (North Carolina, b 1933) undated vase with salt-fired landscape decoration and provenance to the Ariel Gallery of Asheville, N.C., sold within estimate for $1,188. An 8½-tall-by-13-inch diameter conical bowl with ridged spines and titled “Nature Design” by Douglas Ferguson (b 1912) rounded off at $875, well ahead of expectations.
“To me, Michael and Melvin Crocker are amazing potters. The snakes are very realistic, the Native American faces are very well done. These came out of the Southern Pottery tradition and are made of earthenware. When they went off on their own, they produced amazing things. They are finally getting the recognition they deserved and are having a moment. All of the examples of their work went through the roof this auction,” Slotin said. He was referring to the works created by Michael and decorated by his brother, Melvin. The brothers’ snake and Indian face jugs did exceptionally well, realizing prices high enough to qualify for the sale’s leaderboard. Bidders sprung for “Indian Prince with Open Mouth,” which was entwined with a rattlesnake; it ran to $2,625, while a similar example that followed it across the block finished at $2,250. A triple face jug titled “Hear No, See No, Speak No Evil” brought nearly four times its high estimate, selling for $2,125.
After three decades in the business, there probably is not much Steve Slotin has not previously seen, but the sale was the first time he had ever handled a pig flask for the Blink Hills Central Railroad South Dakota modeled after the pig flasks made by Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick at Anna Pottery in Anna, Ill. If the $100/300 estimate was any indication, he had modest expectations of the 9-inch-long porker, which bidders chased to $1,500.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Slotin Folk Art’s next sale will be a large sale of Masterpiece Self Taught art, April 23-24.
For information, 770-532-1115 or www.slotinfolkart.com.
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