Monumental 50-Gallon Midwestern Stoneware Cooler w/ Bust of George Washington

Spring 2021 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 29

Price Realized: $31,200.00

($26,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 3 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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Spring 2021 Auction Catalog

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Important Fifty-Gallon Salt-Glazed Stoneware Beverage Cooler with Cobalt Decoration of George Washington, Signed "A.F.G.," probably Ohio origin, circa 1876-1889, monumental jug-form cooler with octagonal bunghole, cylindrical spout, and two open handles at the shoulder, both embellished with three deeply-scored grooves to their lower terminals. Front decorated in brushed cobalt slip with a large and well-detailed decoration of George Washington's bust, signed on the subject's shoulder, "A.F.G." Additionally inscribed in cobalt slip with the capacity, "50 gal.," at base. Interior of spout and bunghole brushed with Albany slip. This painterly rendering of America's first president, depicted wearing an ascot and buttoned coat, was likely copied by the decorator from one of Gilbert Stuart's portraits of Washington. Undoubtedly designed for a large place of business or public gathering, this cooler may have commemorated the American Centennial in 1876, George Washington's 150th Birthday in 1887, or the Centennial of Washington's Presidential Inauguration in 1889. Probably the largest example of American political-themed pottery known, this object dwarfs stoneware pieces that are otherwise considered oversized, with the bust of Washington alone measuring an astounding 16 1/2" tall. Combining form and decoration, this work is made truly spectacular by its size. Standing 40 3/4" tall, it is among the largest examples of 19th century American stoneware in existence, which, when full, would weigh well over four-hundred pounds. A true "Washington Monument" in clay. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market work, purchased by the consignors in 1978 from a home in Missouri. The previous owner had acquired the cooler in 1928 from his uncle, a man who came to Missouri from Virginia. A long, tight spider line to shoulder on reverse. Two salt drips to reverse. A few lines to base area on front. A tiny nick to bunghole. An in-the-firing fissure in underside. Cooler is slightly warped on underside, keeping it from sitting perfectly flat. H 40 3/4".

Special Note: Due to this object's large size, we are unable to ship it using our normal in-house shipping service. It must either be picked up by the high bidder, or special arrangements must be made by the high bidder for pick up and / or shipping by a third party. If you have any questions, please contact us; we are certainly able to recommend options for third party shippers ahead of time that you can contact for a quote.

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