Rare Hunt Scene Pitcher, "T. Locker," Thomas Locker, Swan Hill Pottery, South Amboy, NJ

July 20, 2019 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 66

Estimate: $800-$1,200  A Note About Estimates

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July 20, 2019 Auction Catalog

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Important and Exceedingly Rare Stoneware Hunt Scene Pitcher, Inscribed "T. Locker", Thomas Locker (1823-1875), Swan Hill Pottery, South Amboy, NJ, circa 1855, molded pitcher with relief designs of hunters on horseback with hounds chasing a stag. Shoulder with relief oak branch design. Base with relief foliate decoration. Twig-form handle. Underside incised with the exceedingly rare signature, "T. Locker", for Swan Hill Pottery owner, Thomas Locker. According to Branin's The Early Makers of Handcrafted Earthenware and Stoneware in Central and Southern New Jersey, Locker was born in Longton, England in 1823 and was first employed at the American Pottery Company in Jersey City, NJ. Around 1852, Locker became a potter at the Swan Hill Pottery, then owned and operated by Staffordshire-trained potter, James Carr. Locker married his wife, Sarah Pointon, in Carr's house in South Amboy, which overlooked the pottery, on July 4, 1854. Locker was involved as a potter, partner, and superintendent of manufacturing at the Swan Hill Pottery circa 1852 until his death in 1875. His name appears on two Swan Hill Pottery billheads illustrated in Branin, p. 199-200 (Branin, pp. 198-203). The highly unusual, unglazed surface of the pitcher and potter's signature on the underside suggest that this object may have been a test or sample piece from the pottery to see the quality of the fired clay. Branin discusses Carr and Locker's attempt at finding a market for their ware in the early 1850s. Carr took samples along the boat "John Potter" to show to crockery dealers on Pearl and Water Street in New York City. His trip was largely unsuccessful; however, Thomas Locker, found customers in Philadelphia (Branin, p. 198). This pitcher is possibly one such "sample piece" taken by Locker to Philadelphia. Its lack of glaze allows for exceptional detail to the relief hunt scene, typically not visible on glazed examples. To our knowledge, this pitcher is the only hand-signed example of pottery made by this significant contributor to New Jersey's 19th century potting industry. Excellent, essentially as-made condition. H 7".


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