July 20, 2019 Face Cooler on Antiques Roadshow

Monumental American Stoneware Face Water CoolerAs many of you will remember, Lot 43 in our July 20, 2019 Fifteenth Anniversary Auction (the monumental face jug cooler) was made famous about twenty years ago when it appeared on a 1998 episode of Antiques Roadshow (filming from Louisville, Kentucky). For those of you who haven’t seen that segment (or want to rewatch it), it’s available at this page on PBS’s website:

Appraisal: 19th-Century Folk Art Jug

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Some Quick Notes About New York City Stoneware in Our 11/2/2013 Auction

If you’ve gone through our November 2, 2013 Stoneware & Redware Auction catalog, you might have seen a couple of references to museum pieces and how they relate to two examples of early Manhattan stoneware we are offering this time around:

Lot 8 in our 11/2/2013 Stoneware & Redware Auction, an early Thomas Commeraw jar--related to an example at the Smithsonian.
An outstanding Thomas Commeraw jar from his early period of production (during which he was incising his work with elaborate designs as opposed to his later stamped decorations) is closely related to an example currently in the collection of the Smithsonian. You can view that Smithsonian example by clicking here. I was, needless to say, very happy to receive this for our Fall sale, and that particular group of Commeraw’s stoneware (bearing, I might add, one of the earliest documented maker’s marks ever employed on American stoneware) is perhaps my absolute favorite of all American pottery.

Lot 12 in our 11/2/2013 auction: A jug made by a mystery potter, related to one of the greatest surviving stoneware vessels, currently at The Met.
An important New York City jug belongs to a group of stoneware by a mysterious maker, responsible for what is considered one of the very greatest examples of American stoneware, the “Elizabeth Crane” punch bowl currently on display at the Met (part of the collection of American Folk Art Museum). You can view that punchbowl here. The interior features a great incised and cobalt-highlight fish, and if you own Georgianna Greer’s American Stonewares, you can see a photo of the fish there. This bowl has been attributed to the shop of John Crolius, Jr. If you don’t know much about early Manhattan stoneware, some of the following may be a little “inside baseball,” but if you are interested in this sort of thing, feel free to read on:

John Crolius, Jr. was the older brother of who may be the most famous American stoneware potter of all, Clarkson Crolius. Clarkson would eventually take over his father’s shop, which was apparently the very same pottery established by his grandfather, William Crolius [the 1st], who had emigrated from Germany circa 1720. During the Revolutionary period, John, Jr. would inherit the shop of his uncle, William Crolius [the 2nd], which was basically located down the block from his father’s / Clarkson’s shop. John, Jr.’s manufactory operated for many years (and this is not an indictment at all of whoever performed that initial attribution of the punch bowl decades ago; he or she could be correct) but there is a problem with that attribution–there are no signed extant examples from John Jr.’s shop to use as a basis for an attribution. There is a larger body of work known for the maker of the punchbowl and the jug, and determining who that maker was is of extreme interest to me. Hopefully we are able to get to the bottom of it before too long!

Anyway, I just thought it would be fun to share links to the museum pieces we referenced in the catalog, and put these two examples of Manhattan stoneware into a better context.

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When Stoneware Ruled the Earth: The Flemington, NJ Dinosaur Crock

When Stoneware Ruled the Earth!
My brother, Mark, recently posted a photo on Facebook that a lot of people got a kick out of (see right). He captioned it with the clever phrase, “When Stoneware Ruled the Earth,” and as something of a dinosaur buff himself, he dug up (no pun intended) some interesting information on the history behind the dinosaur crock we will be offering on November 2, 2013. (By the way, if you don’t follow us on Facebook, please consider doing so. It’s a great way for us to keep in contact with everybody, and we try to add fun or interesting pottery-related posts on a frequent basis. You can check us out Facebook here.)

Late 19th century depiction of the duck-billed dinosaur Hadrosaurus by illustrator Charles R. Knight--reminiscent of the great hand-illustrated dinosaur books I loved as a child.
If you had asked me when the first nearly-complete dinosaur skeleton was excavated I don’t know what I would have said. It seemed to me, at least, that man has had a good conception of dinosaurs for quite some time–but it was interesting to me to learn that the first aforementioned skeleton was not actually excavated until the relatively late date of 1858. Just as interesting, this momentous feat that informed our entire conception of prehistory took place not in some distant, untamed land, but in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Early mounted skeleton of Hadrosaurus.
The man who accomplished the excavation of this now-famous dinosaur was named William Parker Foulke. I hate to quote Wikipedia, but I liked this summation of him, from his Wikipedia page: “… Foulke was an abolitionist, prison reformer, pamphleteer, philanthropist, lawyer, historian and geologist.” Two decades before Foulke’s discovery, a local farmer named John E. Hopkins had found bones of dinosaur-sized proportions in a marl pit and proudly displayed them in his home. Following up on this, Foulke went full-bore in search of the rest of the skeleton, and what he pulled up came to be known by the scientific name Hadrosaurus foulkii. Joseph Leidy, a paleontologist who worked with Foulke, pronounced Hadrosaurus to be bipedal (walking to two legs), which was a big deal–the prior consensus being that dinosaurs were quadropeds.

Hadrosaurus was an herbivorous duck-billed dinosaur. By the late 1860’s, Foulke’s skeleton had been properly mounted and put on display in Philadelphia; at least one late nineteenth century rendering of the creature shows–like the mounted skeleton–a bipedal dinosaur with long tail and front limbs smaller than the hind ones.

Dinosaur crock, stamped FULPER BROS. / FLEMINGTON, NJ, circa 1890.
About thirty years after Foulke’s discovery, roughly sixty miles north of Haddonfield, the potters of Fulper Brothers’ Flemington stoneware manufactory were also playing around in the mud–this time creating the only example of American stoneware we have ever seen bearing the image of a dinosaur. But what is remarkable to me–besides the striking, unique image emblazoned across the front of the vessel–is how close that image is to Foulke’s Hadrosaurus, bearing the same physical attributes I just described in the previous paragraph. It seems pretty apparent that this pot created in New Jersey is intentionally decorated with the image of the famous dinosaur likewise pulled out of New Jersey mud a few decades before. Indeed, New Jerseyans still take pride in their Hadrosaurus–in 1991, it became their official state dinosaur.

We are very happy to include, as part of our November 2, 2013 stoneware & redware auction, this amazing example–one in which New Jersey (and American) history and prehistory meet in a remarkable way.

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Two April 2013 Stoneware Lectures

April 14, Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg and Central PA Stoneware. April 27, Old Greenwich, CT: Manhattan Stoneware, 1795-1820.
Mark, Luke, and I will be giving a couple of stoneware lectures to be held next month:

On Sunday, April 14, at 2:30pm, Luke and I will be giving a new talk, Excellent Ware: The Harrisburg Stoneware Potters and Their Contemporaries, at the Historical Society of Dauphin County in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Afterwards we will be holding an appraisal event, during which we will evaluate attendees’ stoneware and redware. Admission is by donation at the door, but is free to members. The HSDC will also be charging a small fee for appraisals to help support their important organization. For more information, please visit the HSDC website, or call 717-233-3462.

On Saturday, April 27, at 2pm, Mark and I will again be delivering our lecture, Manhattan Stoneware, 1795-1820, as a special program during the Westchester Glass Show in Old Greenwich, Connecticut (at the Greenwich Civic Center). A well-respected event, the Westchester Glass Show is for the very first time encouraging exhibitors to offer ceramics for sale, as well, so this should be a fun time for stoneware collectors. Our talk will be essentially the same one we gave at the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum back in October, so if you missed that event, this is an opportunity to get an incisive look at the big three Manhattan stoneware makers–Clarkson Crolius, John Remmey III and Thomas Commeraw–as well as the former Manhattan potter who completely revolutionized Mid-Atlantic stoneware production–Henry Remmey, Sr. Our talk is free with admission to the show ($7). Here’s a link to a show circular with the important details.

We have really enjoyed sharing our love of this great American art form with you, and look forward to doing so many times this year!

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