Outstanding and Important Election of 1868 Stoneware Crock w/ Horatio Seymour "Going Up Salt River"

Fall 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 32

Price Realized: $20,400.00

($17,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 4 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.

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Outstanding and Important Six-Gallon Stoneware Crock with Cobalt Figural Decoration and Political Inscription, OH origin, 1868, large-sized, cylindrical crock with applied lug handles, tooled shoulder, and semi-rounded rim, featuring a large slip-trailed design of a standing man with hat and buttoned coat, holding a waving banner, inscribed "Seymour." Further inscribed below in cobalt slip, "I am going up / Salt River!. / Where are you / going Frank." Slip-trailed underscored "6" above. This political cartoon crock references the U.S. Presidential Election of 1868, in which Democratic candidate, New York Governor Horatio Seymour (1810-1886) was defeated by the Republican candidate, Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Commanding General of the Union Army during the Civil War. Seymour, a popular figure in the Democratic Party, had served as the chairman of the Democratic National Convention in 1864 and 1868. After numerous indecisive ballots at the event in 1868, the convention nominated Seymour, a man who was not seeking the presidency, but reluctantly accepted. The choice before the voters between Grant and Seymour was also squarely one between civil rights and encroachment on the newly-found freedoms of blacks. Indeed, the Election of 1868 was the first presidential election after the abolition of slavery, and the entire fate of Southern blacks in particular was at stake, with even the Fifteenth Amendment (which enshrined universal suffrage) not being ratified until 1870. But beyond this, the plain racial dynamic of the election was made clear by Seymour's running mate, Union Major General Francis Blair (the "Frank" on the crock), who made racist invective part of his standard campaign rhetoric. (It's worth noting that one pro-Seymour political ribbon of the time was emblazoned with the motto, "This is a white man's country: let white men rule.") That the public understood the Seymour-Blair ticket to be one entwined with racism is seen, for example, in a couple of the newspaper items illustrated above that specifically reference the Ku Klux Klan. The public repudiated the Democrat ticket, with Grant winning in an electoral college landslide of 214 votes to Seymour's 80. He received strong support in his native state of Ohio, where this piece was made, winning by over 41,000 votes. His victory was in part achieved by 500,000 votes from blacks. The term "going up Salt River" is a slogan dating as early as 1827 that came to symbolize political defeat. It was popularized as a political term in 1839 by Ohio Representative, Alexander Duncan (1788-1853), when he used it in a House of Representatives speech. The Salt River is a 150 mile-long river that runs through Kentucky and empties into the Ohio River, the main waterway of the region. To "go up Salt River," then, is to take an unconventional and treacherous route that leaves you lost or worse. This crock, featuring historical significance, profuse decoration, and an exceptionally-larger 11" height to the rendering of Seymour, is regarded as a masterwork of Ohio stoneware and among the finest examples of regional stoneware to come to auction in years. Scattered exfoliation to base. Some fry to cobalt. Light staining. H 14".

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