Rare Small-Sized Bray Brothers Stoneware Temperance Jug, Illinois, Kentucky or Indiana, c1880-90

Fall 2020 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 48

Estimate: $2,000-$3,000.  A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2020 Auction Catalog

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Very Rare Small-Sized Stoneware Temperance Jug, attributed to Simeon, J. Wallace, or William Bray, IN, IL, or KY origin, circa 1880-1890, semi-ovoid jug with tall neck and semi-squared spout, the surface profusely-decorated in a rustic manner with applied and sculpted sawed limbs and incised bark. Body decorated with applied figural decorations in the style of the Kirkpatrick brothers of Anna, Illinois, including a snake-form handle with smaller snake above, a lizard, and turtle, facing a central molded man's bust with hat, protruding from the front of the jug. As with related jugs evocative of the Temperance Movement, the figure is depicted as helpless, trapped inside the jug with only his head exposed, while the animals move forward in an attempt to devour him. Molded and applied figure of a swan on nest below. Surface covered in a chocolate-to-reddish-brown Albany slip glaze. The applied figures including impressed eyes, various incised details, and scaling produced with two different sizes of coggle wheels. Two of the figures are molded, the hatted man and the goose, and the remainder are hand-modeled and sculpted. (A related jug featuring the same molded man was sold as lot 115 in Crocker Farm's July 18, 2015 auction.) The Bray brothers, Simeon, J. Wallace, and William, were all potters raised in Anna, Illinois, and appear as children living there in the 1860 census. The itinerance of the three potter-brothers is evidenced in census and city directories of the period. Simeon, the oldest of the three, is listed in the 1870 census as a "Turner in pottery" working in Anna, where he presumably adopted the temperance jug form in his production at Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatricks' Anna Pottery. Ten years later, Simeon appears as a potter in Evansville, Indiana, along with his brother, William; William is also shown working in Mound City, Illinois, the same year. Wallace Bray is listed in the 1880 census as a "clay artist" working in Metropolis, Illinois, assumedly at Metropolis Pottery, and in the 1890 Paducah, Kentucky, city directory as a potter. In all, less than ten Bray family temperance jugs have been documented, making them significantly rarer than the Kirkpatrick examples on which they are based. The goose seen on this jug is a previously-undocumented figure for this form. Provenance: A recently-discovered example. Restoration to lower half of small snake, the turtle's head, and the goose's head extending partway into the neck, as well as restoration to a flake on the goose's breast. (Restoration like this is common for this form.) Minor unrestored chips. H 7 3/4".



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