Important Limestone Co, Texas Snake Temperance Jug by John L. Stone, c1870

March 14, 2015 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 340

Price Realized: $18,400.00

($16,000 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 7 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.

Auction Highlight:  March 14, 2015 Auction | Anna Pottery | Southern Pottery | Texas Stoneware

March 14, 2015 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare Cobalt-Decorated Stoneware Temperance Jug with Elaborate Applied Figural Decoration, Signed "John L. Stone. Maker / in W.C. Knox's Factory / $10.00," Oletha, Limestone County, TX origin, circa 1869-1874, ovoid jug with semi-rounded spout, featuring a hand-modeled and applied figure of a bearded man submerged into the wall of the vessel, his head being devoured by a rattlesnake forming the jug's handle. A lizard, two smaller snakes, and a spider decorate the jug's surface. Excellent, folky incised and impressed details to figural decorations, including heavy impressed triangular scales to snakes, incised stripes to lizard, and impressed eyes, finger nails, and buttons to figure. Brushed cobalt highlights to man's clothing, belly of rattlesnake handle, and eyes of smaller snake. Designs of a jug and sailing ship appear on the left side of the jug, applied in a diluted Albany slip or faded brown cold paint. Incised signature and price at base. Stone's work is quite possibly Texas stoneware at its finest. Few examples from the state share its decorative quality and creativity. His most expressive products are his temperance jugs, which mimicked the style of Illinois' Anna Pottery, where he had been previously employed. While consistent in overall style with the temperance jugs of the Kirkpatricks of Anna, Illinois, Stone finds ways to add Southern culture to his works. In this example, he has added a rattle to the end of the snake handle, creating an animal well-known to the region. A very interesting addition to this jug is its price of $10.00, incised at the base. It is often unclear whether special pieces such as this were always presentation or advertising items, or whether they were actually made available for sale. The $10.00 price on this jug, while possibly tongue-in-cheek, suggests that Stone may have actually tried to sell some of his work as a novelty or art form. Ten dollars in 1870 is roughly equivalent to $175 today. With its unusually small size, nicely-glazed surface, and well-preserved central figure, this example is the best of the three Stone temperance jugs we have had the privilege of offering over the years. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, which descended in the family of the consignor. This jug was eagerly sought by pioneer collector and scholar, Georgeanna Grier, although the owner was unwilling to sell at the time. It was also featured on the first season of the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow. This jug survives in the best condition of three Stone temperance jugs we have offered. Typical in-the-firing losses to some applied decorations on left side of jug. Snake to left of central figure is missing its head. Snake to right of figure is reglued at the neck. Losses to tips of figure's boots and a chip to tip of figure's chin. H 9".

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