Extremely Rare RICH WILLIAMS (African-American Potter) South Carolina Stoneware Jar

July 20, 2019 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 100

Price Realized: $8,260.00

($7,000 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. If you're interested in having us sell a similar item for you, please contact us here.

Auction Highlight:  July 20, 2019 Auction | Southern Pottery

July 20, 2019 Auction Catalog

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Extremely Rare and Important Small-Sized Stoneware Jar with Alkaline Glaze, Stamped "RICH WILLIAMS", Gowensville area, Greenville County, SC origin, late 19th or early 20th century, semi-ovoid jar with narrow collar and flared rim, the surface covered in a mottled dark-olive alkaline glaze. Base impressed with the mark of South Carolina African-American potter, Richard "Rich" Williams. Williams is distinguished as one of a few African-American potters to own his own pottery or mark his ware with his own maker's mark. A picture of Williams turning a jug in his shop, illustrated on p. 89 of Baldwin, is regarded as the only period photo of an African-American potter at work. This jar is highly important in its impressed maker's mark. While a number of unsigned Williams pieces have been documented, very few examples are known bearing the potter's impressed signature. When found, the maker's mark typically reads "WILLIAMS" at the vessel's base. This jar, however, includes the potter's full name, "RICH WILLIAMS", an even rarer mark that we have seen on only one other example. It appears that two individual stamps, one for "RICH" and another for "WILLIAMS" were used to create this mark. The fact that other examples only bear the stamp "WILLIAMS" suggests that the "RICH" stamp may have been lost by the time they were made. According to Cinda K. Baldwin's Big Ware Turners, Williams is listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as a farmer, age fifty, living in the Gowensville area of Greenville County, SC and owning a farm. Baldwin notes that Williams is possibly related to freed black Edgefield potter, Milage Williams, who is listed in the 1880 Census as living in Shaw's Creek Township, Aiken County, SC. A Rich Williams jar, illustrated on p. 161 of Baldwin and bearing a "WILLIAMS" mark, exhibits stamping closely related to the well-known "Landrum cross" from Edgefield, indicating a possible connection to that region's potting tradition (Baldwin, pp. 128, 160, 161). Featuring a desirable small size and elusive maker's mark, this jar is among the most significant discoveries in African-American ceramics of the past several years. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, which recently surfaced in the Southeastern U.S. Excellent, essentially as-made condition. H 7 1/4".

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