Published: November 13, 2017
GAINESVILLE, GA. — Southern Edgefield face jugs continue their hot streak as Slotin Folk Art hammered a 6-3/4-inch example for $72,000 including the buyer’s premium in its November 11-12 sale, which presented the contents of The Acacia Collection of African-Americana and the contents of South Carolina’s historical Old Slave Mart and Museum. The vessel was slave-made, dating to the 1860s, with its signature kaolin eyes and wide smile under an alkaline glaze. The piece originally hailed from the Paul Blatner collection, a Savannah, Ga., historian and antiques dealer who passed away in 2015. Blatner was the co-founder and first curator the Great Savannah Exposition, now called the Savannah History Museum. It was then in The Acacia Collection and The Old Slave Mart Museum.
On the rising popularity of Edgefield face jugs, Steve Slotin, auctioneer, said, “The slave-made face jugs have continued into the tradition of Southern folk pottery. It’s one more thing that African-Americans or Africans have brought to this country that are ingrained into our culture and in the fabric of the South.”
The piece came with an appraisal certificate that documented the jug’s provenance, stating that it was originally purchased from Mrs. Mamie DeVeaux, a successful voodoo practitioner from Savannah, Ga.
“In this area, there was a particular form of voodoo that was used and practiced,” said Slotin. “So, there is a chance and a possibility that this was used in voodoo or someone who practiced it, but it’s really hard to say that it’s true or correct. Typically, there is a grain of truth to it and the region was known to practice it.”
The piece sold to well-known African-Americana decorative arts collector Derrick Beard.
“I was a friend of Caroll Greene, Jr., the director-curator of the Acacia Collection, and we would talk about it. So, when this opportunity became available, I wanted to seize it. You probably won’t see another one like this in generations.”
Beard also purchased the third highest lot in the sale, a Thomas Day secretary with mirrored doors from the Acacia Collection, for $54,000 including the buyer’s premium. The piece featured mahogany veneer with poplar and pine secondary woods. Slotin noted that Day is believed to have more no more than four secretaries with mirrors during this lifetime.
“I have probably the largest private collection of Thomas Day in the country,” said Beard. “It is just incredible, the knobs, the fascia, the overall design, he was one of the greatest furniture makers in the South and North Carolina in the 1860s, despite that he was a free man of color.”
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