Extremely Rare Stoneware Jar Inscribed "B. C. M." (B. C. Milburn / Alexandria, VA)

October 28, 2017 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 170

Price Realized: $1,770.00

($1,500 hammer, plus 18% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 3 years old, and the American ceramics market frequently changes. Additionally, small nuances of color, condition, shape, etc. can mean huge differences in price. Please Contact Us for a Current, Accurate assessment of your items.

October 28, 2017 Auction Catalog

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Important and Possibly Unique One-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Elaborate Cobalt Floral Decoration, Incised on Underside "B C M", Benedict C. Milburn at Hugh Smith's Wilkes Street Pottery, Alexandria, VA, circa 1825-1830, ovoid jar with tooled shoulder, small applied tab handles, and semi-rounded rim, decorated on the front with a boldly- brushed flowering plant featuring leaved stems extending to the left and right. Reverse with large brushed chain link decoration around the shoulder. Brushed cobalt highlights to handle terminals. This jar carries strong significance to Alexandria stoneware history as it is possibly the earliest documented work by the celebrated potter, Benedict C. Milburn. Its decoration and form indicate it was made when the Wilkes Street Pottery was under the ownership of merchants, Hugh Smith, and his son, Hugh Charles Smith, one in which the impressed mark, "H. SMITH & CO.", was employed. The simple initialed signature relates to the incised "D" marks on the underside of other Wilkes Street pieces, believed to have been made by the African-American potter, David Jarbour. Additionally, the jar's design is closely-related to the signed "D. Jarbour / 1830" jar in the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, NC, indicating Jarbour may have decorated the piece or played a significant role in Milburn's formative years as a potter. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, from a Virginia private collection. Literature: Illustrated in Wilder, Alexandria, Virginia Pottery, 1792-1876, p. 339. Very nice condition with a 1 1/8" in-the-firing base chip on reverse, a small chip to underside at edge, a few minuscule base nicks, a minor chip to one handle, and two tiny nicks to opposite handle.

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(Our next auction takes place March 21, 2020.)

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