Published: April 3, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Laura Beach, Catalog Photos Courtesy Crocker Farm
SPARKS, MD. – Given that Crocker Farm represented all the major specialties and regions in its diverse sale of American stoneware and redware on March 24, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Zipp family, in the antique pottery business for the past three and a half decades, has seen it all. In fact, Crocker Farm’s founders are making new discoveries daily. Some are arrayed on these pages.
Just shy of 500 lots, the auction clocked in at $663,190 in total sales, patriarch Tony Zipp told us by phone after the dust settled. Tony is assisted in the business by his wife, Barbara, and his sons Mark, Luke and Brandt, dedicated researchers who are expanding the knowledge base at this academically inclined auction house while also reaching out to new audiences via innovative social-media initiatives. To date, Crocker Farms has no plans for online-only sales, in part because the live events at the Zipps’ 1841 Gorsuch Barn are such engaging affairs.
“We had a lot of new customers and saw some younger faces,” Tony Zipp told us. One of the auction’s top lots, in fact, was a gorgeous circa 1850 Edgefield, S.C., jar attributed to Collin Rhodes. With mossy brown two-slip coloring, it went to a new customer from the Midwest for $29,500.
“Southern pottery is very much in vogue nowadays,” affirmed Zipp, whose top lots were mainly from the Carolinas and Virginia. Two of the best were knocked down to Corbett E. Toussaint and her husband, Philip. The Columbia, S.C., collectors took an imposing 7-gallon Edgefield jar decorated with bold swags in brown and cream for $17,400. The vessel, probably by Thomas Chandler for the Phoenix Factory, circa 1840, is well-known to the aficionados, having previously been in a prominent North Carolina collection.
Face jugs, ever popular with collectors, included a circa 1850-70 Edgefield example with kaolin eyes and teeth, 7¼ inches tall. A significant new discovery in the Southern pottery tradition, it realized $18,880. Among other Southern stoneware, a 4-gallon alkaline-glazed pitcher by Timmerman Pottery, Stockton, Lanier County, Ga., realized $16,520. A 1-gallon milk pan with cobalt fox and chicken decoration, probably by John Poole Schermerhorn of Richmond, Va., circa 1820, achieved $7,080.
Corbett Toussaint’s other purchase was a newly discovered Anna Pottery stoneware pitcher, auctioned for $34,220. After a recent episode on the television series American Pickers included mention of the Illinois maker, with a credit to Crocker Farm, the auctioneer’s web traffic spiked. One query resulted in the consignment of the exceedingly rare Anna Pottery pitcher mentioned above. It was apparently modeled after Daniel Patch, a conductor with the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Crocker Farm sold the only other Anna conductor known in 2014.
An Anna-inspired stoneware temperance jug, 7¾ inches tall, with applied snake, lizard and monkey decorations, went for $20,060 in the March 24 sale. It is attributed to Simeon L. Bray of Evansville, Ind., circa 1885.
The top price of the day was for redware from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. In 2002, Green Valley Auctions of Mount Crawford, Va., auctioned a redware lamb doorstop in multicolored glaze by J. Eberly & Company of Strasburg for $58,000. Consigned to Crocker Farm by the family of the late buyer, the circa 1890 figure, hefty at nearly a foot long, resold here to an online buyer for $49,200 including the internet surcharge. It is a staggering price when one considers that Eberly lambs without the splashy glaze bring roughly $2,500 to $5,000.
Other Shenandoah redware pieces of note included a multiglazed vase in a rare small size, $5,310; a wall pocket, $2,832; and a winsome egg cup or match safe in perky spring green. By S. Bell & Sons or J. Eberly, it garnered $1,121.
Crocker Farm also saw interest in a slip-decorated redware bowl, $4,130, probably from North Carolina, and an initialed redware matchbox with three-color slip decoration by Edward Singer, Haycock Township, Bucks County, Penn., $10,030. Representing an important new discovery, a sugar bowl with a crimped rim went to Colonial Williamsburg for $8,260. The circa 1826 piece is inscribed with the name of Harrisonburg, Va., potter George Kline.
With its mesmerizing swirls of olive, burnt orange and caramel, the copper-glazed redware of Bristol County, Mass., is another crowd-pleaser. Among the limited quantity of this Massachusetts favorite was a charming make-do jug with tin handle. It was a nice buy at $1,003.
As always, Crocker Farm featured a winning selection of New York City stoneware, some of it by the African American potter Thomas Commeraw, the Crolius family or John Remmey II and decorated with bold, blue cobalt swags around the rim or birds on perches. Prices for the New York City pieces ranged up to $2,832 for a swagged and stamped 2-gallon Commeraw jar of circa 1800.
By and large, collectors of New York and New England stoneware prize whimsical, imaginative, unusual subject matter rendered in deep blue cobalt. Chief among pieces of this description was an 1860s 2-gallon jug decorated with a devil’s face by Madison Woodruff and Romanzo Smith, Cortland, N.Y., $20,060. A 5-gallon Troy, N.Y., crock ornamented with a standing mule, circa 1875, went for $17,700.
Coming in at $11,210, a 3-gallon jug with cobalt peahen on stump decoration, stamped “Cowden & Wilcox / Harrisburg, PA”, circa 1865, topped an extensive selection of Pennsylvania and West Virginia stoneware. One wonder was an exceptional circa 1870 harvest jug with profuse, freehand decoration. It made $8,555. Plenty else in this lengthy sequence could be had for under $1,000.
Moving to Ohio, a 1-gallon, floral-decorated presentation jug stamped “Henry Hershberger” and attributed to L.W. Minier of Mogadore in Summit County made $2,714.
If you missed the sale, or just want to learn more, check out the 15 or so video tutorials the Zipps created for the auction’s top lots and posted to their website, www.crockerfarm.com.
Quoted prices include buyer’s premium. Unless otherwise noted, prices do not reflect the internet surcharge, where applicable.
Crocker Farm’s next sale is set for July 21 and will include a Civil War-era stoneware crock by J.B. Pfaltzgraff & Co of York, Penn. The piece is decorated with an eagle carrying a banner reading “We Are After You.” Stay tuned.
Crocker Farm is at 15900 York Road in Sparks.
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