Exceptional F. H. COWDEN / HARRISBURG, PA Stoneware Jug w/ Elaborate Gentleman's Bust

July 22, 2017 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 50

Price Realized: $16,520.00

($14,000 hammer, plus 18% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 5 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:  July 22, 2017 Auction | Central PA Stoneware

July 22, 2017 Auction Catalog

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Exceptional Three-Gallon Stoneware Jug with Large Cobalt Decoration of a Gentleman's Bust, Stamped "F.H. COWDEN / HARRISBURG, PA", circa 1881, ovoid jug with semi-squared spout, decorated with a large brushed design of a gentleman's bust with mustache and wavy hair. Cobalt highlights to maker's mark and handle terminals. This jug is regarded as possibly the finest example of stamped Frederick Cowden stoneware known. It is one a few bust-decorated pieces bearing this mark to have surfaced, and is easily regarded as the greatest among them, given its strong color and the design's very large, 10" height. The subject of this important work remains a mystery. The decoration shares similarities with an iconic Cowden & Wilcox jug, decorated with the bust of a Civil War soldier, made in Harrisburg, PA, circa 1865. It is also closely-related to bust-decorated pieces made in Newport, PA, circa 1875, believed to depict the pottery owners, Michael and Theophilus Miller. Frederick Cowden's service during the Civil War offers the possibility that the Cowden & Wilcox soldier-decorated jug was a depiction of the potter himself; similarly, this jug could be a portrait of the potter shortly after he gained sole ownership of his operation, circa 1881, with both bust designs showing Frederick Cowden with slightly different facial hair over an approximate fifteen year span. However, a late 19th century photograph of Frederick Cowden and his pottery workers shows the man with a mustache and beard, a detail that runs counter to this theory. Regardless of the subject, this jug can easily be considered one of the best examples of Cowden Pottery or Central Pennsylvania stoneware to come to auction in years. Provenance: Property of a New York State collector. Ex-Don Walters Collection. A 6 1/4" line to right of decoration, extending 4 1/2" onto underside. Some light wear to midsection. An in-the-firing contact mark with shallow surface chip to left of decoration. A small base chip on reverse and some minor base nicks. H 17".

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