Exceptional Anna Pottery 1884 "Shoo Fly" Flask

Spring 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 106

Price Realized: $16,800.00

($14,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

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Auction Highlight:  Spring 2020 Auction | Anna Pottery | Face Jugs

Spring 2020 Auction Catalog

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Exceptional Anna Pottery Presentation Stoneware "Shoo Fly" Flask in Original Polychrome-Painted Surface, Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, Anna, IL, Dated 1884, wheel-thrown flask with flattened form, semi-squared spout, and Albany-slip-glazed surface, featuring an applied figure of an African-American woman with one arm wrapped around the neck of the flask and the other swatting at a molded and applied figure of a fly. Shoulder of flask incised with the inscription, "Shoo fly." Excellent sculpted detail to the figure of the woman, including incised facial features, deeply-carved hair created with a looped stylus, impressed triangular designs to the cuffs of her blouse, and textured patterning to her dress. This flask is the first example of Anna's "shoo fly" form that we have seen with a dress and blouse cuffs embellished in this manner. The texture on the dress was likely created by pressing the clay against burlap. The figure features an outstanding original painted surface in red, white, and blue. As is the case with all Anna "shoo fly" pieces, when the flask is tipped over for pouring, it is revealed that the woman is wearing no underwear. A second molded fly with original green paint to the head appears below the woman, along with the incised inscription, "Dont Bodder me," after T. Brigham Bishops' 1869 song, "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me." (According to Bishop, he wrote the song while serving with African-American soldiers during the Civil War. One soldier had used this exclamation in response to remarks made by other soldiers, thus inspiring the famous song. Bishop even used the name of his company, "Company G," in his lyrics.) The base of the jug is incised with the presentation inscription, "S.J. Heath. / I.C.R.R. / Chicago-Centralia / 1884," referring to a railroad employee who worked the Chicago to Centralia line of the Illinois Central Railroad. This flask is among the finest "shoo fly" vessels by the Kirkpatrick brothers that we have seen. Such pieces are commonly referred to as "shoo fly jugs;" however, this example is potted in an extremely rare flask form, one of two in this style that we have ever offered. The flask's wonderful patriotic paint and exquisite modeling of the woman, down to subtle incised details to her fingernails, is among the best that we have seen on this desirable Anna form. Additionally, this flask is the only example of its kind that we have seen featuring the words, "Don't Bodder me," in the place of the usual slogan, "The Original Package." Lastly, it is the only "presentation" shoo fly vessel that we are aware, as it features a unique inscription by the Kirkpatricks for the person it was made for, in the same vein as their famous pig bottles. As with their pigs, conductor pitchers, and various other decorative forms, Wallace and Cornwall have made this piece for an Illinois railroad worker, presumably someone that they were very familiar with. Indeed, the specialness of this object is born out not only in the inscription to its owner, but also in its other noteworthy characteristics: its flattened liquor-flask form, the refined modeling of its applied figure, and the lyrical inscription below her. Among the most significant discoveries in the field of Anna Pottery of the past several years. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, which descended in an Illinois family. Excellent condition. While this form typically succumbed to significant losses to the delicate dress of the woman, this flask survives with only shallow chipping to the edge of the dress, some wear to the woman's hair, and expected wear to its original paint. H 6 1/4".



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