Exceptional CHARLESTOWN Stoneware Keg w/ Elaborate Incised Bird and Brushed Butterfly Decoration

October 17, 2015 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 13

Price Realized: $4,312.50

($3,750 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 9 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:  October 17, 2015 Auction | New England Stoneware | Incised Stoneware | Massachusetts Stoneware

October 17, 2015 Auction Catalog

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Monumental Eight-Gallon Stoneware Keg-Form Display Cooler with Incised Bird and Floral Motifs Decoration Flanked by Cobalt Butterflies, Stamped "CHARLESTOWN", MA origin, circa 1840, large-sized, ovoid form with tooled banding and stepped bung hole, the front decorated with an incised and cobalt-highlighted design of a bird feeding on the bud of a flowering vine. Excellent dashed details throughout incising. Decoration is flanked by two brushed cobalt butterflies, a rare treatment among known Charlestown products. Eight-gallon capacity mark at shoulder flanked by incised wing-like flourishes. Additional brushed wing-like decoration appears above the bunghole. Body of cooler further decorated with heavily-brushed cobalt highlights to the raised banding and surrounding base of the bung hole. The interior base of the cooler was fashioned before firing with a clay block pierced with two holes, which extend through the bottom of the cooler. This highly unusual treatment suggests the cooler may have been made to serve as a trade sign or advertising piece of sorts, with the holes serving as a means of supporting the vessel atop a post or shelf. The extravagant decoration and monumental size seem to support the idea that this cooler was made as a show piece promoting the abilities of the maker. Also of note is the quality of the incised decoration, which exhibits a high level of artistry in the drawing itself as well as the manner in which the decorator has applied varied concentrations of cobalt slip to highlight the design. An alternating pattern of light and dark cobalt is evident in the petals of the large blossom at the end of the vine. The bird's wing and tail are also set off with darker cobalt against a lighter application to the bird's body. Impressive in form, size, and decoration, this cooler ranks as the finest example of signed Charlestown stoneware we have ever offered. A 2 3/8" x 1" loss to underside, adjacent to one of the original holes pierced through the bottom of the cooler. A long crack extends from this loss, continuing up to midsection on reverse side of cooler. An additional chip adjacent to original hole in underside with a 2" T-shaped line extending from it. A shallow rim chip on reverse. H 18 1/2".

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