Ernest H. Galloway: Paducah, Kentucky Stoneware Face Jug Maker

Ernest H. Galloway / Paducah, Kentucky Face Jug

From both a research and collecting perspective, the last two decades have seen an incredible amount of interest focused on the wildest folk art creations of the American stoneware potters: face jugs, snake jugs, pig flasks, and other related forms. Often bursting with life and displaying a very high level of skill, these objects exude the personality of the potter himself in every component and fun detail.

In particular, I can think of no two schools of American ceramic production that have captivated museums, collectors and researchers more than those spearheaded by the Kirkpatrick Brothers of Anna Pottery in Illinois and the alkaline-glazed stoneware producers of Edgefield District, South Carolina. The former were the preeminent makers of American pig bottles and snake jugs; the latter, the most influential producers of face vessels. Rarely are these two schools of pottery production mentioned in the same breath, let alone studied as a cohesive whole. But there was an almost psychedelic spirit that overtook the American stoneware craft as the nineteenth century began to move toward its close, with ideas and styles being shared amongst all of the potters who allowed themselves to be captivated by it.

An Edgefield face jug beside an Anna Pottery snake jug. These objects, both sold at our auction in recent years, hold the world auction records for an American face jug and a piece of Anna Pottery, at $100,300 and $141,600, respectively.

It is in this context that we can discuss an exceptional example of American stoneware folk art that we’ll be selling as part of our Fall 2020 auction of American stoneware & redware pottery: an elaborate Albany-glazed face jug made in the early 20th century by a young potter named Ernest H. Galloway in Paducah, Kentucky. Like, say, the well-known John Dollings in Muskingum County, Ohio, Galloway was a potter working in the shadow of Anna Pottery who, unlike the Kirkpatricks in Anna, enthusiastically embraced the face jug form. Born July 25, 1878 in Paducah, he and his brother, John, appear in that town’s 1900 census as potters. Their father was a railroad engineer, and indeed Ernest himself would take up the railroading profession, as well–his obituary calls him “a former Illinois Central fireman.” This has bearing on the pottery influencing Galloway in his own artistic life: Anna, Illinois, was not only about 45 miles as the crow flies from Paducah, but its own stop on the Illinois Central. Indeed, Anna pig flasks are frequently inscribed with railroad maps of which the Illinois Central was the primary line.

1892 map of the Illinois Central Railroad.

Also near Paducah was the heavily Anna-influenced pottery center of Metropolis, Illinois. Galloway was actually married in Metropolis to a local girl, their 1903 marriage record noting his occupation as “Potter.”

1903 marriage record for Ernest H. Galloway and Murtie Taylor in Metropolis.

The 1910 census shows Galloway living in Paducah with his wife and two young children, his occupation given as “Jug Maker.” (Between the 1900 and 1910 censuses, he is also listed in Paducah city directories between 1900 and 1910. Some note his work on the railroad, but the 1904, 1908 and 1910 directories all reference his trade as a potter, the 1908 and 1910 ones specifically referring to him as a “jiggerman” at the Paducah Pottery Company. This long-lived manufactory run by pottery magnate J.A. Bauer was located at the corner of 7th and Trimble Streets.)

1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map detail of the Paducah Pottery Co.

Ernest H. Galloway died young. On December 12, 1910, at only 32 years of age, his life was cut short by what the local death records call “heart disease.” Looking at his jug (which is signed on the bottom, “E. Galloway. Paducah. Ky.”), it is clear that Galloway had a considerable amount of skill. This is the only signed example of his we’ve seen, but there are a very few others attributed to him, based in part on one very distinctive feature: the pronounced part in the middle of the hair. A very unusual feature, we might ask ourselves why Galloway went out of his way to add this touch to multiple examples. In looking at family genealogies and photos of Galloway, we have our answer:

Ernest Harvey Galloway, modelling the distinctive hairstyle that informed his ceramic work.

I have never seen another face vessel for which we have such a clear inspiration for one of its decorative elements. There has been much written, discussed and conjectured over the last many years on the origin of American face jugs, what their exact intended use was, what informed the so-called “grotesque” faces you see on many of them, and so on. This is an important new discovery, to see the potter in this case actually caricaturizing himself, delighting in giving his vessel a prominent attribute of his own.

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Signature of Ernest Galloway on the bottom of the jug.

Clarkson Crolius Stoneware Oyster Jar for Thomas Downing

Thomas Downing and Clarkson Crolius
Thomas Downing and Clarkson Crolius. In their day, each was the most famous practitioner of his trade in the United States.

A newly-surfaced Thomas Downing oyster jar holds the distinction of being the first we have seen that was clearly made by Clarkson Crolius. Few stoneware jars made for America’s most famous oysterman of his day, the African-American entrepreneur Thomas Downing, are known. But every other example we have seen can be firmly attributed to a stoneware shop that relatively few American stoneware collectors have paid significant attention to: that of Dennis McClees and later T.G. Boone in Brooklyn. This Brooklyn stoneware manufactory, located at the corner of Sands and Navy Streets, was founded in or about 1839, and the distinctive typeface used to compose its various maker’s marks is a match for that found on all previous Downing examples we’ve seen. (For more on this shop, see William Ketchum’s Potters and Potteries of New York State … and Mark Smith’s great article in the Jan-Feb 2007 issue of Bottles and Extras.)

Brooklyn stoneware maker's marks
The impressed “T. DOWNINGS / PICKLED / OYSTERS” mark juxtaposed with that of the Brooklyn potters who manufactured stoneware jars for him.

The appearance, then, of the following jar is significant:

Attributed Clarkson Crolius Stoneware Oyster Jar for African-American OystermanThomas Downing
Clarkson Crolius’s version of a Thomas Downing oyster jar.

It does not bear the aforementioned, cruder typeface used at the Brooklyn manufactory. Rather, it features a refined style only seen locally on the signed work of Clarkson Crolius, who happened to be not only New York’s most prominent stoneware maker but the most famous American stoneware potter of his day. Crolius employed a progression of numerous maker’s marks over his roughly forty-year career, and of these we particularly see an extreme similarity between this newly-discovered Downing stamp and Crolius’s oval-shaped “STONE-WARE MANUFACTURER” mark. This maker’s mark appears on some of Crolius’s more typical stoneware vessel forms, but it notably tends to appear specifically on his well-known preserve jars–stamped with the fruit names “PEACHES,” “PEARS,” “QUINCES” and “PLUMBS.” How fitting, then, that the jar at hand, made to preserve Downing’s pickled oysters, should perhaps date to the same time period.

One of Crolius’s maker’s marks juxtaposed with the newly-discovered Downing stamp. Note the refined, similar composition of the stamps and in particular the italic fonts being used.

And indeed this brings us to the other notable similarity between this new Downing jar and the work of Crolius: its distinctive, chocolately Albany glaze. Brown Albany slip, used extensively on American stoneware beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century, was made using clay found in a specific mine in Albany, New York. You would think this would mean that Albany glaze would have a consistent appearance across all stoneware potters, but this is not the case. And indeed the overall appearance of the Albany glaze on this Downing jar matches very well that seen on Crolius’s work; see, for instance, the marked similarity between this oyster jar and a Crolius “PEACHES” jar:

A Crolius jar bearing his aforementioned “STONE-WARE MANUFACTURER” mark (along with the impressed word “PEACHES” on reverse), next to the newly-surfaced Downing jar. Note the distinctive runny, chocolatey Albany glaze on both.

While the Brooklyn-attributed jars should date to something like an 1839-1846 window based on the lifespan of that shop, theoretically for Crolius’s we could place a date as early as 1825–the first year Downing appears in the local city directory as an “oysterer” at No. 5 Broad Street. And while I think that’s probably about as reasonably early as we could go with these jars, we should also keep in mind that based on period advertisements, Downing definitely seems to have been running an oyster stand out of No. 5 Broad even prior to 1825, when oystering was not his primary occupation:

A relatively early ad for Thomas Downing and his whitewashing business, also referencing his “old established stand No. 5 Broad …, where he will keep his oyster stand also, as usual.”

As someone who personally takes an inordinate interest in New York City stoneware, African-American ceramics and the history of the African-American community in New York City, this jar stands out to me as one of the truly remarkable artifacts we have had the privilege of handling. Indeed, even from a pure stoneware perspective, signed or attributed Crolius oyster jars are extremely rare in their own right! If you aren’t familiar with Thomas Downing and his remarkable life, please see, for instance, this great article from The Virginia-Pilot. To see the last Downing jar we handled, which set a world auction record for an American stoneware oyster jar, visit our Summer 2020 online catalog.

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Summer 2020 Auction Retrospective

Thank you to everyone for making our Summer 2020 auction such a success. Like our Spring sale, this auction was another “white-glove” event (all items sold) with a gross of over $1.1 million for 442 lots. A number of record and near-record auction prices were achieved, including a world auction record of $96,000 for a single-handled stoneware jug by the Edgefield, SC potter, Dave. Other highlights included:

$72,000 – Anna Pottery / IL Stoneware Temperance Jug
$72,000 – Dave / Edgefield, SC Double-Handled Stoneware Jug
$42,000 – Ft. Edward, NY Stoneware Urn (World Auction Record for Form)
$36,000 – Solomon Bell and John Bell Stoneware Presentation Jar
$25,200 – J. & E. Norton / Bennington, VT Stoneware Deer Jug
$20,400 – J. & E. Norton / Bennington, VT Stoneware Double-Pheasant Churn
$20,400 – Anna Pottery / IL Salt-Glazed Stoneware Pig Flask
$19,200 – Anna Pottery / IL “Horace Greeley” Stoneware Pig Flask
$19,200 – NC Moravian Redware Fish Bottle
$18,000 – Remmey / Philadelphia, PA Stoneware Presentation Bank with Bird Finial
$15,600 – Cowden & Wilcox / Harrisburg, PA Stoneware Jug with Bird and Grapes
$13,200 – B.C. Milburn / Alexa., VA Stoneware Jar (World Auction Record for Form by Maker)
$12,000 – Thomas Downing / NY Stoneware Oyster Jar (World Auction Record for Form)
$12,000 – Thomas M. Jackson / NY Stoneware Oyster Jar (World Auction Record for Form)
$10,800 – NC Moravian Redware Bowl with Three-Color Slip Decoration
$6,600 – 18th New England Redware Bottle with Slip Decoration
$5,400 – Lanier Meaders / Cleveland, GA Stoneware Devil Jug

A recent write-up on this auction from Antiques & The Arts Weekly is available here or via their own website here.

(For highlights from this auction, see ; for full results, see .)

As evidenced by prices in our last two auctions, the market for high-quality American stoneware and redware is stronger than ever. We want to thank you for your participation as both consignors and bidders, and are encouraged by the positive feedback that we have again received regarding our current online bidding format. Our NEXT AUCTION will be conducted in the same manner, with an online session opening on Friday, November 20 and closing on Friday, December 4. A telephone callback session will be held on Saturday, December 5 for the top four bidders on lots that have reached a bid level of $2,000 or more.

While we may live in uncertain times, there is still an intense need among collectors and institutions for objects that speak to the creativity and history of our great nation. For those wishing to consign, whether it be one high-quality piece or an entire collection, please contact us as soon as possible for a free and confidential evaluation of your pottery.

Stay safe, everyone, and be sure to check our website in the coming weeks for highlights from our Fall 2020 Auction of American Stoneware and Redware.

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Summer 2020 Auction: Introduction and Gallery Walk

First of all, thanks so much to everyone for your tremendous response to our last (Spring) auction, held in April and May. A number of world auction records were broken and we were truly overwhelmed by your participation in what, out of necessity, was a brand new format for us.

Our Summer sale will again be held in this remote-only, online format (with phone and absentee bidding also available for those who prefer it). The sale begins on Friday, August 7, at 10am and the main bidding session ends on Friday, August 21, at 10pm. Lots that have reached a threshold of a $2000 bid level by that point are sold as part of the Saturday, August 22, callback session–a phone bidding period that is as close to a live Crocker Farm auction as possible, available only to the top four bidders on any $2000+ lot. This same basic format is what we used in the Spring auction and it worked extremely well. For more information on how all of this works, please visit our How to Bid page.

Our Summer 2020 auction is defined by its quality. Many of the lots in this auction are exceptional, some are unique, and some are considered masterworks. A number have comparable examples in the nation’s leading public and private collections. The broad scope of American pottery represented, from Clarkson Crolius stoneware to Bennington flint enamel to George Ohr art pottery, makes this catalog read like a survey of American ceramic history.

Highlighting this auction is an extremely rare, double-handled stoneware jug with alkaline glaze by the enslaved potter, Dave, of Edgefield, South Carolina. The double-handled jug form is among the most artistic and coveted in the Edgefield stoneware tradition and Dave’s surviving oeuvre indicates he rarely produced it. Beautifully-glazed and inscribed in large script, “Lm / August 31. 1852 / Dave”, this jug is among the finest examples of Dave stoneware to come to auction in years.

Other highlights in this auction include: A Three-Gallon Alkaline-Glazed Stoneware Jug, Inscribed “Lm / Aug 17. 1852 / Dave,” Edgefield, SC, 1852. An Anna Pottery Stoneware Temperance Jug with Stopper, Anna, IL, circa 1865. A Monumental Two-Piece Stoneware Urn with Cobalt Chicken Pecking Corn, Bird, and Foliate Motifs, attributed to Ft. Edward, NY, circa 1875. A Five-Gallon Stoneware Crock with Cobalt Horse and Jockey, Stamped “C.W. BRAUN / BUFFALO, N.Y.,” circa 1870. A Five-Gallon Stoneware Water Cooler, Stamped “JOHN BURGER / ROCHESTER,” NY origin, circa 1860. A Six-Gallon Cobalt-Decorated Lidded Stoneware Presentation Jar, Incised on Underside “January the / 1 1874 / Made by Solomon Bell / for Tillie Bell / Waynesboro, Pa,” Stamped “JOHN BELL / WAYNESBORO’,” 1874. A Fine Stoneware Face Harvest Jug Depicting an African-American Man, Northeastern U.S. or Ohio origin, circa 1830-1860. Benedict C. Milburn’s Finest Known Stoneware Jar, Alexandria, VA, circa 1850. A Five-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Impressed Decoration and Cobalt 1854 Date, Stamped “T.W. CRAVEN,” Randolph or Moore Counties, NC, 1854. A Copper-Glazed Moravian Redware Fish Bottle, Salem, NC origin, circa 1801-1829. A Glazed Redware Pig Flask, attributed to Daniel or Joseph Henne, Bern Township, Berks County, PA, circa 1830-1860. A Slip-Decorated Redware Bottle, probably Charlestown, MA, 18th century. A Three-Gallon Stoneware Beer Cooler with Elaborate Cobalt Flowering Urn Decoration, Mid-Atlantic or Ohio River Valley origin, circa 1830. A Four-Gallon Stoneware Jug with Cobalt Bird and Grapes Decoration, Stamped “COWDEN & WILCOX / HARRISBURG, PA,” circa 1865. A Fine Selection of Anna Pottery Stoneware Pig Flasks, Anna, IL, circa 1870-1885. Two Ceramic Log Cabin Banks, Signed by Thomas Haig, Jr., Philadelphia, Dated 1852. A Cobalt-Decorated Stoneware Presentation Bank with Bird Finial, made by Richard C. Remmey, 1892. One of the Finest Selections of West Virginia Stoneware Ever to Come to Auction. A Selection of George Ohr Pottery, Biloxi, MS, late 19th or early 20th century.

This sale features well over 400 lots of quality American stoneware and redware pottery. If you enjoy previewing items in person, we’d welcome your visit to our gallery. Previews are available by appointment only, weekdays, 9-4pm, August 7-21. Please feel free to contact us to set this up.

And finally, we shot a video of Mark taking us through the gallery, highlighting things he finds interesting, and providing a great overview of the auction as a whole. Take a look:

All Our Best,
The Zipps

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