Exceptional Pair of Stoneware Snake Jugs, Both Signed by John L. Stone, Limestone and Kosse, Texas

March 2, 2013 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 382

Price Realized: DNMR

March 2, 2013 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important Pair of Texas Stoneware Temperance Jugs with Applied Figural Decorations, John L. Stone, Kosse and Limestone, TX, late 19th century, the first an ovoid jug with rounded spout, decorated with the hand-modeled head of a man, painted white with blue eyes, red lips, and blue shirt, protruding from the shoulder of the jug, the head underscored by the inscription "The Result" within an oval. A snake, which forms the jug's handle, attempts to swallow the man by his head. A second large snake slithers around the reverse and side of the jug. A lizard and centipede further decorate the front. A human body figure wearing a red shirt, pants, and cowboy boots, extends from one side of the jug, surrounded by the incised words "First Attempt". Above the figure is banner with the slogan "Go in lemmons (sic) and come out squeezed". Applied knot holes and a roughly-incised surface give the jug a rustic, bark-like appearance. Incised in a white-painted scroll on one side "J.F. Johnson & J.W. Dillon / MANUFACTURERS/ OF / ALL KINDS OF / STONEWARE / Kosse Texas." Opposite side incised within a white-painted plaque "MADE & PRESENTED TO THE Fire Brick & Tile Company By J.L. STONE". A small applied brick, incised "Timse's Best" likely refers to a potter at the fire brick and tile company, for which the jug was made. This jug paired with a similarly-styled jug by John L. Stone, while working in Limestone, Texas, also embellished with various applied clay figural decorations. These include two snakes, a centipede, a spider, and a crayfish hiding inside a mound of rocks. The legs of a man fitted with cowboy boots protrude from the side of the jug, and the torso and legs of a second figure, also wearing cowboy boots, extend from another side. These boots are incised with stars and include snakes slithering out of them. Jug is incised with the following phrases: Snakes in my Boots, delarious effect, Orders Respectifuly Solisited, Go in Lemons and come out squeased, and I.O.G.T No. 534. The phrase "Happy Jack crawfishing" is incised under the mound of rocks in which the crayfish is hidden. "Crawfishing" is a Southern term meaning "to make a retreat from an earlier commitment," apparently suggesting that alcohol can make people negligent in their commitments. The midsection of the jug is further incised "J L Stone / Manufactuer of all / Kinds of Fancy / Stoneware. / Furgison Pararie / Limestone Co / TEX." The base of the jug is incised "C.A. Clarke & Fowler. / Manufactuers of all Kinds / Of Stone Ware. West-edge / Furgison Pararie / Limestone Co. Texas." This inscription is ended by an incised star of Texas. Jug is decorated with cobalt highlights to one figure's legs, another figure's coattail, and a few of the inscriptions. Temperance jugs modeled in the style of these two Stone examples were evocative of the evils of alcohol consumption. It is unclear whether or not such vessels were actually made in support of the Temperance Movement, serving to warn people of alcohol's dangerous results. Many agree today that such jugs were more light-hearted in tone and did not actually intend to deter casual drinking. A small number of John L. Stone's stoneware products have survived, indicating he was an apt potter and creative folk artist with a style similar to the Kirkpatrick brothers of Anna, Illinois. A stoneware spaniel in possession of the Bayou Bend Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is inscribed "J. L. S." and was also made by Stone; according to an article discussing the museum's accession of the dog--published in the March 2003 issue of The Magazine Antiques--Stone came from Illinois and worked in various potteries in Limestone County, TX. While his Illinois heritage and existing work suggested that he worked directly with the Kirkpatricks, research by Crocker Farm, Inc has essentially proven this fact. A 1923 passport application by potter John L. Stone includes a notarized statement by Cornwall Kirkpatrick's son, demonstrating an apparent life-long friendship between Stone and the Kirkpatricks. This exceptional pair of jugs are two of the finest examples of Texas stoneware to cross the auction block in years. We are privileged to offer them here together as a single lot. Provenance: Both from a private Midwestern collection; Kosse jug ex-collection of William Kelly Young; Limestone jug previously found in a garage in Mexico. Kosse jug in the following condition: Wear to paint on spout. Chip to one snake's upper jaw and loss to much of same snake's body. Missing an applied snake, with only a few segments of body remaining. Loss to lizard's snout. Lizard missing tail. Missing a second lizard or other animal at shoulder, with only two legs remaining. Human figure on front possibly missing hands. This damage is common to pieces of this type, and it appears that much of it occurred in the firing. The smoothness of the lost segments suggest the applied decoration may not have adhered properly to the jug when made and separated from it during the firing. Furthermore, much of the paint on the jug's surface covers the damage, indicating the damage occurred sometime during, or shortly after, its manufacture. Limestone jug in the following condition: Missing snake handle as well as significant sections of the snakes. Missing figure's head and tips of boots. Figure on side of jug is missing one coattail. One snake applied at the base appears to be entirely missing. Losses to centipede. Spider's pincers are missing. Some additional lesser damage to two of spider's legs. A small clay animal was applied to the shoulder but has since been lost, with only portions of its feet remaining. H (of Kosse jug) 11".

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