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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The 2010’s: A Crocker Farm Retrospective

Baltimore Stoneware Cooler
The World Auction Record for American stoneware: $483,000 for this Baltimore beverage cooler sold in our Fall 2015 auction.
Happy New Year! We’ve returned after the extended fall auction mop-up and holiday break, excited to turn toward our first auction of 2020. Our upcoming March 21 auction–for which we are now accepting consignments–also marks our first of a new decade, and I felt this was an opportune time to reflect on what the 2010’s brought us as a company, and gave the American stoneware collecting as a whole.

As we entered the year 2010, the World Auction Record for American stoneware stood at $148,500, for a heart-shaped inkwell made in 1773 by William Crolius in lower Manhattan that sold at Sotheby’s in 1991. (This wonderful example is now a key part of the American stoneware collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks to a generous gift by prominent collector, David Bronstein.) Our auctions, which we began holding in 2004, had been consistently breaking records for various categories of American stoneware, but our highest price realized as of January 2010 stood at $103,500 for an elaborate water cooler made by the Boyntons in Albany, NY in 1817. (This remains, to this day, the World Auction Record for a piece of Albany stoneware.) At that time, exceedingly few pieces of American stoneware had ever sold for six figures, and this represented the highest price ever paid at a stoneware specialty auction.

Boynton / Albany, NY Stoneware Cooler
Our first six-figure sale, this wonderful 1817 Albany stoneware cooler was sold at our March 2009 auction for $103,500.
We sold that cooler in March 2009 at our then-auction home at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania (commonly called the “York Fairgrounds”). That site had become a well-known antiques mecca, beginning (I believe) with the establishment of what is now called the Original York Antiques Show in 1934. This show was famously taken over by Paul Ettline in 1956 and eventually Melvin Arion in 1996, who continues to operate it today. Various other antiques and collectibles expos have been held in York over the decades and our close proximity to this location made it a great fit for us. (Baltimore County borders York County on its south.) At the York Expo Center we also sold the now well-known Fenton & Hancock (St. Johnsbury, VT) water cooler that brought $88,000; the $71,500 M. & T. Miller (Newport, PA) birdhouse; an incised Baltimore bird pitcher by the Remmeys that brought $69,000; and a Western PA canning jar bearing the profile of a baseball player that realized $65,550. (A couple of these remain World Auction Records for their places of origin.)

I would say, though, that things really changed dramatically for our company (and by extension the American stoneware market) over the past decade, in 2010 and beyond. One huge step in the development of Crocker Farm was our acquisition in the summer of 2010 of the 1841 Gorsuch Barn, a place that has become the auction home of American stoneware and redware–an ideal location for us, and one we feel blessed to have. I grew up visiting “the Barn.” It was an antiques shop called Glencoe Gardens and had been a local institution for decades; with the death of its owner, Emma Carroll, in 2009, we were able to acquire it, restore much of its former nineteenth century glory, and transform it into the space you know today.

New York Stoneware Churn
A New York State stoneware churn, sold for $402,500 at our July 2014 sale–a world auction record for New York pottery.
We held our first auction at our new gallery in the fall of 2010, and in March 2011, we realized a new highest price at $138,000 for the heavily-incised memorial jug for drowned potter, Benjamin Herrington. This was a big milestone for us, but as the decade progressed, we would come to surpass that mark many times over, beginning in the summer of 2013. That July’s auction saw two prices in the neighborhood of $200,000 each: $230,000 for one of the finest examples of Baltimore stoneware in existence, and $195,500 for an extremely fine New York City jar bearing an incised federal eagle and 1802 date. (The Manhattan jar still holds the World Auction Record as the highest price ever paid for a piece of stoneware from this all-important production center.)

The catalog for the following summer’s auction was already at the printer when we were contacted to sell one of the greatest examples of American stoneware ever to hit the auction block: an upstate New York churn bearing the wonderful design of four marching soldiers. Only in our hands for a few weeks leading up to the auction and inserted into the sale as an addendum lot, it realized $402,500, eclipsing our previous highest price by almost two-fold. This was followed up in the fall of 2015 by our sale of the now-iconic early Baltimore water cooler with heavily-incised federal eagle design that realized $483,000, still the World Auction Record for American stoneware.

Southern Stoneware Face Jug
The world auction record for a Southern pottery face jug is held by this great example, which sold for $100,300 at our July 2017 auction.
Besides the extreme growth of the American stoneware market as seen at our auctions, we were very gratified over the past ten years to see our auction develop into a very well-rounded institution that takes pride in bringing the best objects to market from essentially all areas of American stoneware collecting. Our sales have always been known, since the outset, for offering a very diverse selection of American stoneware and redware. But I would say over the past decade, the diversity of our auctions has been realized in new ways. Perhaps no greater example of this is the number of wonderful Southern face vessels and other important Southern ceramics we have been privileged to handle during this time period. The Edgefield face jug we sold in the summer of 2017 for $100,300 remains the World Auction Record for one of America’s most beloved ceramic forms, the Southern face jug, and that sale is only one key highlight in a long string of great Southern material for which we have become known.

Piggybacking off of this, it has been gratifying for us to see Baltimore begin to receive more recognition as an extremely important Southern production center for American stoneware. This new understanding of Baltimore’s role in the development of the Southern stoneware craft and American stoneware craft as a whole is due to our very own Luke Zipp’s heavy research on the subject since around the year 2000. From the outset, our sales have been known for their attention to detail and extreme focus on accuracy and incisive, original research. And indeed it has been our key new discoveries and publication of original research in our auction catalogs and elsewhere that we are perhaps most proud of. The establishment of Baltimore’s Remmey and Parr families as essential ones in the history of American stoneware production; the discovery and establishment of Thomas Commeraw as a key early African-American businessman; even smaller, less-sweeping new discoveries that have filled in important gaps and enriched our understanding of the handicraft we love–all of these that happened or truly took hold over the past decade are achievements that have transcended the antiques market and broadened American decorative arts scholarship as a whole.

With the 2010’s behind us and the 2020’s now marching forward, we are excited about more new discoveries, fun auctions, and comradery with our fellow ceramics friends this year and beyond! Again, Happy New Year and from all of us at Crocker Farm, you have our sincerest gratitude for your interest in our auctions and your patronage over the decades.

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Thanks to the American Ceramic Circle and MESDA!

Thomas Commeraw Lecture, Nov. 2019I just wanted to quickly thank the American Ceramic Circle and Old Salem / Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts for having me over the weekend. It was my privilege to present my latest talk on Thomas W. Commeraw, the free African-American potter of federal era New York City. All of the folks at both organizations made this one of the best ceramics-related events I have ever attended.

Want to send us a comment or ask a question? Feel free to contact us anytime!