Extremely Rare Adam Kern Shenandoah Valley Redware Pitcher and Bowl Set (Winchester, VA or Thurmont, MD)

Fall 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 350

Estimate: $2,000-$4,000.  A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2020 Auction Catalog

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Extremely Rare Shenandoah Valley Redware Pitcher and Bowl Set, Inscribed "A. Kern," Adam Kern, Winchester, VA or Mechanicstown (now Thurmont), MD, circa 1881-1883, ovoid pitcher with upswept spout, elegant spurred handle, and footed base, the surface covered in a yellowish slip, decorated with splashed manganese, and covered in a clear lead glaze; included with its original bowl, potted with rounded sides, a pronounced foot, and flattened rim, featuring a matching glaze scheme. Underside of pitcher and bowl each incised with the signature, "A. Kern." This beautifully-glazed set features an unusual small size to the bowl and the exceedingly rare incised signature of Shenandoah Valley regional potter, Adam Kern. The distinctive glaze is closely-related to that seen on a few surviving flowerpots bearing the mark, "BAECHER & KERN / WINCHESTER, VA," made during Adam Kern's partnership with Anthony Bacher in 1883. According to Comstock's The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region, Kern, like Bacher, was a native of Bavaria. He was employed at the Big Hunting Creek Pottery in Mechanicstown, MD in 1882, the year it closed, while it was under the ownership of J.E. Simons. In 1883, he moved to Frederick County, Virginia to become Anthony Bacher's partner. An advertisement noted in Comstock reads, "We are requested to announce that Mr. Anthony Bacher, the well known Potter has taken in as partner, Mr. Adam Kern of Pennsylvania who is a native of Baveria, Germany and a skilled potter. The new firm is preparing to do an extensive business the coming season, as they expect to manufacture pots and enough earthen-ware to supply the entire Valley." This partnership, however, was very short-lived, dissolving by 1884, when Kern moved to Pennsylvania (Comstock, p. 430). This pitcher and bowl set is the only example of this prized regional form that we have seen by Kern as well as the only script-signed piece by this potter that we are aware of. Pitcher with a 1 1/2" triangular chip to bottom edge, other chipping to base, and some sporadic glaze flakes. Bowl with wear to rim, minor wear to foot, some relatively minor glaze flakes (primarily to interior base), and two minor in-the-firing contact marks to body. H (of pitcher) 11 1/4"; H (of bowl) 5 1/8" ; Diam. (of bowl) 12 1/4".



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