Exceedingly Rare and Important "Baltimore Union Stoneware Manufactory" Jar, 1808-1810 (Earliest Southern Maker's Mark)

Fall 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 114

Estimate: $1,000-$2,000.  A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2020 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important One-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Iron-Oxide and Cobalt Slip Decoration, Stamped "BALTIMORE / UNION STONEWARE / MANUFACTORY," Michael Grub and John Kilmer, Baltimore, MD, circa 1808-1810, cylindrical jar with tooled shoulder and tapered rim, the entire surface dipped in iron-oxide slip, the shoulder impressed with Baltimore Union Stoneware Manufactory maker's mark above a distinctive one-gallon capacity mark. Capacity mark highlighted in cobalt slip and corresponding cobalt spot decoration on reverse. Decorated in the "iron-dipped" English style, Baltimore Union pieces were made contemporaneously with related Alexandria, Virginia stoneware produced by Lewis Plum, the master under which John Swann apprenticed. The stamp on this jar predates any maker's marks found on Alexandria or Richmond, VA stoneware, pieces produced by the Webster family in Fayetteville, NC, examples of Samuel Smith, Jr. stoneware from Knoxville, TN, or pieces produced at Abner Landrum's Pottersville Pottery in the Edgefield District of SC, making it the earliest Southern stoneware maker's mark known. This example reveals the beginnings of cobalt slip decoration in Southern-made stoneware with the brushed cobalt spots at the shoulder, the use of blue and brown slip together also linking this work to European-made stoneware. One of five or so pieces bearing this stamp known. Literature: Illustrated and discussed in Kille, "Distinguishing Marks and Flowering Designs: Baltimore's Utilitarian Stoneware Industry," Ceramics in American 2005, fig. 17. This jar survives in a remarkable state of preservation for a piece over two-hundred years old. Excellent, essentially as-made condition.

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