Extremely Rare att. Stephen Sweeney (Henrico County, VA) Jug w/ Richmond Advertising

July 20, 2019 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 125

Price Realized: $4,720.00

($4,000 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 20, 2019 Auction | Virginia Stoneware

July 20, 2019 Auction Catalog

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Extremely Rare Two-Gallon Stoneware Jug with Richmond, VA Advertising, attributed to Stephen B. Sweeney, Henrico County, VA, circa 1838-1863, ovoid jug with shoulder, stepped spout, and ribbed handle, the front featuring the hand-incised and cobalt-highlighted inscription, "Dove & Isacks / Druggists / Richmond / Va /2". This inscription is surrounded by a wavy cobalt-slip border. Brushed cobalt highlights to handle terminals and highlighting the impression at the base of the handle. This jug is attributed to Sweeney based on its form and color. In addition, a pitcher attributed to Sweeney shows a distinctive, vertical cobalt stripe to the lower handle terminal, as found on this jug (see Russ, Hunter, Mueller-Heubach, "The Remarkable Stoneware of Virginia's Lower James River Valley", Ceramics in America 2013, fig. 48). This vessel is significant in its hand-incised inscription, surviving as one of only a small number of James River Valley of Virginia stoneware pieces featuring this treatment. Other examples, produced earlier by Samuel Frayser, are inscribed with the vessel's owner and/or fruit names. To our knowledge, no other intact Sweeney stoneware pieces are known with any sort of inscription, although an excavated sherd from his site includes part of an incised name above the tail of an incised fish or bird and a partial Sweeney signature (see Russ, Hunter, Mueller-Heubach, fig. 56). Adding further import to this object is the inclusion of the city name, "Richmond / Va". While Richmond and its environs served as a major potting center for much of the 19th century, only one piece that we are aware of features this city's name incised into the clay by hand: a jar attributed to Samuel Wilson or his associates, which is incised "Richmond" on the underside. The partnership of Dove & Isaacs was formed on August 28, 1847 when Samuel E. Dove took in William B. Isaacs and the two traded out of Dove's "old stand" on Main Street, at the "Sign of the Black Boy and Mortar." (As one Richmond resident remarked in the late 19th century, "Who of the old residents does not remember the sign of the black boy and mortar, standing at the drugstore of Dr. Samuel E. Dove, 33 Main? It was an amusing object to me, and was the target for many a snow-ball." The Slave Schedule of the 1850 federal census shows two enslaved men of African descent under the ownership of Dove & Isaacs, one sixty and the other fifty years of age. On February 4, 1851, Dove & Isaacs was dissolved in favor of a new partnership, that of Dove, Isaacs & Co. (a third partner named Alexander Archer having been brought into the firm), giving a tight window of August 1847 - February 1851 for the manufacture of this jug. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, which recently surfaced in Michigan. Excellent condition with three minor base chips.

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