Extremely Rare and Important COWDEN & WILCOX / HARRISBURG, PA Civil War Soldier Jug


October 25, 2014 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 76

Price Realized: $97,750.00

($85,000 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 10 years old, and the American ceramics market frequently changes. Additionally, small nuances of color, condition, shape, etc. can mean huge differences in price. If you're interested in having us sell a similar item for you, please contact us here.

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October 25, 2014 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important Two-Gallon Stoneware Jug with Cobalt Decoration of a Civil War Soldier, Stamped "COWDEN & WILCOX / HARRISBURG, PA," circa 1865, ovoid jug with semi-squared spout, decorated with a large brushed design of a Civil War soldier's profile with mustache, goatee, long hair, and distinctive shako hat with plume. Brushed cobalt highlight to maker's mark and handle terminals.

During the Civil War, Harrisburg was a significant, strategic location for the Union, and it was during that conflict, in 1863, that the partnership of John Cowden and Isaac Wilcox was formed. Not only was Harrisburg the state capital of the second largest state in the Union, it also served as an important Union troop training ground, and a rail center, which connected the East to the Midwest. As a result, it was considered a target of great interest to the Confederate army. In June of 1863, during a second Confederate attempt at capturing Harrisburg, Union militiamen were rallied to protect the city. Common militia headgear included the shako, a visored cap adorned with a plume or pompom on the front, illustrated on the soldier on this jug. Adding interest to the story of this outstanding jug is the fact that John Cowden's son, the potter, Frederick Cowden, served in the Civil War in the 201st Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry C. It is possible that the design on this jug was related to Frederick's involvement in the war, or possibly represents a portrait of the man himself.

Very few examples of Cowden & Wilcox stoneware exist with human figural decorations. This example is possibly the finest, as other human designs from this pottery exhibit a more naive, cartoon-like quality. This jug is considered one of the finest examples of Cowden & Wilcox stoneware known, and arguably the finest example to come to auction in decades. Excellent condition with some chipping to spout. H 13 1/2".

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